Archive for the 'species extinction' Category

Big Step In Restoring Tribal Pupfish Habitat

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“A Native tribe based in the Owens Valley is applying for a permit to move an endangered desert fish to a specially prepared refuge on the tribe’s land, in an effort to restore a species that was once vital to the tribe’s survival.

The Bishop Paiute Tribe, whose 2,000 or so enrolled members live on and near the tribe’s 875-acre reservation in Bishop, has been working to restore the federally endangered Owens pupfish along with other native fish species on the reservation’s Native Fish Refuge. A pair of ponds at the Refuge have been ready to receive the fish since 2012, when the conservation area formally opened. But these days you can’t just toss an endangered fish in a bucket and move it to a new pond. That would put the Tribe in violation of the federal Endangered Species Act.

So for the last couple of years, the Tribe has been working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to craft a permit that would allow moving the pupfish to their new home. And members of the public will have an opportunity to comment on that permit starting Thursday.

The Owens pupfish, Cyprinodon radiosus, is the largest of the pupfish species native to the California desert, reaching up to two inches in length. Once widespread up and down the Owens Valley in the network of ponds and sloughs that make up the Owens River watershed, the Owens pupfish was once a staple food item for the local Paiute, who caught fish by the hundreds and dried them for storage and later eating.

That bounty ended with the advent of European settlement and resource exploitation. Water diversions and introduced predatory fish such as largemouth bass depleted the Owens pupfish’s numbers to the point where it was actually considered extinct by the mid-1940s.

Fortunately for the pupfish, a small group held on in a series of pools in Fish Slough, north of Bishop. Rediscovered in 1964, the fish were listed in 1967 as Endangered under the Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966, a precursor to the current Endangered Species Act.”

Read more: KCET


Battle for the Mekong takes new turn

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“Laos reached an agreement with downstream countries Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand more than a year ago to suspend construction of the US$3.5-billion (Bt113 billion) dam while independent studies were made on fish migration patterns and the possible threat posed by the dam to food security.

About 60 million people depend on the Mekong River for their livelihoods through a hand-to-mouth existence.

However, Vientiane ignored what amounted to a moratorium, Thai construction companies went to work immediately in November at the site and plans for further dams were released.

At last week’s meeting of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) in Luang Prabang, Cambodia demanded that all construction be immediately halted and argued that Laos had misinterpreted previous agreements. Meanwhile, Vietnam insisted that no dams be constructed until an agreed upon independent study is completed.

Thai general contracting and infrastructure development group Ch Karnchang – through its 50 per-cent-owned subsidiary Xayaburi Power Co – has a 29-year concession to operate the dam’s 1,285-megawatt power plant, as well as assurances from Thailand that it will purchase about 95 per cent of the electricity generated.”

Read more: Save the Mekong


Mali’s Lush Wetlands Drained by Foreign Agribusiness

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“Nearly two million Malians live on the delta. “Everything here depends on the water,” said the mayor. “But”—and here he paused gravely, pushed his glasses down an elegant nose, and began waving a long finger—”the government is taking our water. They are giving it to foreign farmers. They don’t even ask us.”

What is happening here in Mali is happening all over the world. People who depend on the natural flow of water, and the burst of nature that comes with it, are losing out as powerful people upstream divert the water.

As the mayor talked in the schoolyard of Akka village, on an island in the heart of the Niger inland delta, women rushed around putting straw mats on the ground, and bringing bowls of food. By torchlight, we savored a supper of smoked fish, millet porridge, and green vegetables, all products of the waters around us.”

Read more: National Geographic


Feds urge extra water to prevent repeat of salmon kill

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“Federal authorities want to send some extra water to the lower Klamath River in Northern California to prevent a repeat of a 2002 fish kill that left tens of thousands of salmon dead before they could spawn.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has proposed releasing additional flows down the Trinity River, the Klamath’s biggest tributary, late this summer in anticipation of record returns of fall chinook.

There is no extra water to be had from the upper reaches of the Klamath River itself, where court battles have long dictated how scarce water is shared between farms and fish.

“We are really glad the bureau is taking this seriously, but we are really concerned that no extra water will be coming out of the Klamath reservoir,” said Regina Chichizola, spokeswoman for the Hoopa Valley Tribe. “It seems that after the fish come past the Trinity River, the ones that come up the Klamath will be in danger of a fish kill.”

The proposal came from a team of scientists from tribes, and state and federal agencies involved in restoring salmon in the Trinity.”

Read more: The Register-Guard


Salmon revival in sight as Elwha River dams fall in U.S. Northwest

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“The two dams, about 80 miles northwest of Seattle, blocked migratory routes of salmon and steelhead trout to some 70 miles of tributary habitat, in the process robbing Native Americans of income by halting a treaty-guaranteed reservation fishery.

The river teemed with thrashing pink salmon before the Elwha Dam was built to generate electricity for the nearby mill town of Port Angeles, with a current population of around 19,000, and later, to a naval shipyard in Bremerton, about 80 miles away.

The Elwha Dam’s removal, completed in late March, was hailed by Governor Christine Gregoire as a significant environmental milestone that “shows what happens, when against many odds, a river is restored to its natural beauty.”

Supporters of the dam’s destruction say the benefits to the environment of tearing it down outweigh the loss of its aging power-generating station.

The destruction of the Glines should be finished in about a year to 18 months, ending the biggest dam demolition in U.S. history.

The removal of the two dams – ordered by a 1992 law signed by then-President George H.W. Bush – is aimed at restoring the natural habitat of more than 300,000 salmon. Economic and environmental impact analyses delayed the project’s start.”

Read more: Reuters

Panama: Village of the damned

Photo retrieved from:“Panama’s largest indigenous group, the Ngabe, had decided to take a stand against the unlawful encroachment of their homeland. Since the time of the conquistadors, the Ngabe have been pushed to the margins of the country – forced to live on the land that no one else wanted. Twenty years ago the Panamanian government finally ceded what was considered a useless tract of land to them. The Ngabe had in fact lived there for centuries, so by rights it has always been theirs.

But now this land, rich in mineral deposits and rivers, is considered priceless. And Ricardo Martinelli, Panama’s authoritarian president who is a close friend of former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi, wants it back.

His plan is to open the Ngabe heartland to foreign mining companies and push hydroelectric power projects onto an unwilling population. The problem is that the Ngabe have nowhere else to go. So the scene was set for a dramatic showdown, which started when the Ngabe closed the Pan-American Highway in Chiriquí province in the west of the country – bringing Panama to a standstill.”

Read more: Aljazeera


China to flood nature reserve with latest Yangtze dam

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“China’s Three Gorges Corp. on Thursday marked the beginning of construction for a dam that will flood the last free-flowing portion of the middle reaches of the Yangtze, the country’s longest river.

The 30 billion yuan ($4.75 billion) Xiaonanhai dam is decried by environmentalists because it will flood a nature reserve designed to protect about 40 species of river fish.

Completion of the dam would turn the middle section of the Yangtze into a series of reservoirs, leaving “no space for fish”, said environmentalist Ma Jun, who has been active for over two years in trying to prevent the dam.

“This is the last one, the last section in 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) along the Yangtze that was left for endangered or local fish species. This would be their last habitat,” Ma told Reuters.”

Read more: Reuters


Re-mapping the Amazon

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“Brazil’s River of the Dead is teeming with life, tropical birds, fish and turtles. The river is one of the hundreds of tributaries of the mighty Amazon.

But even this remote region is being developed. Not far from this part of Brazil construction has begun on the huge and hugely controversial Belo Monte hydroelectric dam. When finished, it will generate a vast amount of electricity and flood a vast area of the rainforest. It’s just one of 60 dams planned in the Brazilian Amazon.

Balancing Brazil’s growing need for energy and protecting the rainforest was front and center back in January 2011, when Dilma Rousseff addressed Congress after being sworn as Brazil’s first female president.”

Read more: International Rivers


Scientists Warn of Catastrophe for Food Security in the Mekong

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“So far 51 dams have been built or are being built on tributaries to the Mekong River, mostly in Laos. At least 27 more could begin construction between 2015 and 2030. The PNAS study found that “the completion of 78 dams on tributaries, which have not previously been subject to strategic analysis, would have catastrophic impacts on fish productivity and biodiversity.” Many of these dams are not being discussed or monitored at the regional level.

89 dams appear, 100 fish species disappear

The Mekong River Basin is home to 65 million people. Dr. Guy Ziv, the lead author of the PNAS study and an environmental scientist now at Stanford University, told Nature that “Most of the people are poor and get 81% of their protein from subsistence fisheries.” As a result, the fates of the Mekong’s fish and people are closely intertwined. The study warned that if all of the proposed dams are built, fish productivity would drop by 51% and 100 fish species would become critically endangered.

Ziv and his colleagues highlighted the Lower Sesan 2 Dam in Cambodia, which will soon begin construction. The dam will block fish migrations on two of the major tributaries of the Mekong River, the Sesan and Srepok rivers. The impacts will likely be more serious than some of the dams proposed for the mainstream river. The PNAS study found that the Lower Sesan 2 Dam alone would cause a 9.3% drop in fish biomass for the entire river basin. Projects like this are not just a local concern, but a regional concern.”

Read more: International Rivers


A Damming Assessment Of Mekong Development

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“With a watershed of 800,000 square kilometres, the Mekong River basin supports the world’s largest inland fishery and is home to 65 million people in six countries: China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. “Most of the people are poor and get 81% of their protein from subsistence fisheries,” says Ziv.

The steep topography of the region makes the Mekong an attractive place for hydropower development. Driven by increasing demand for electricity and a desire for economic development, 11 dams are being planned on the main river, with 41 on the tributaries expected to be completed within the next 4 years. Another 10–37 tributary dams are likely to be built between 2015 and 2030.

Using a fish migration model, Ziv and his colleagues found that if all of the proposed dams were constructed, they would reduce fish productivity by 51% and endanger 100 migratory fish species.

The steep topography of the region makes the Mekong an attractive place for hydropower development. Driven by increasing demand for electricity and a desire for economic development, 11 dams are being planned on the main river, with 41 on the tributaries expected to be completed within the next 4 years. Another 10–37 tributary dams are likely to be built between 2015 and 2030.”

Read more: Nature