Smart ways to reduce bycatch

Entries for WWF’s Smart Gear competition close 31 August 2011. The competition – which awards prizes worth US$57,000 to the inventors of fishing gear that reduces the accidental capture of marine life – has gained a number of successes with winning entries being adopted in many fisheries around the world. Flexi grids, which won in 2006, are now mandatory in blue whiting fisheries in the Faroe Islands, and are used in a growing number of countries all over the world. “The Eliminator” – a winning idea from 2007 – designed to reduce bycatch of cod, is now being used by fishermen in the northeastern U.S. haddock fisheries, as well as being adopted by the EU as a mandatory measure under certain conditions. Be sure to checkout the website:

Boost for MSC-certification

Icelandic Group, one of the world’s ten largest seafood companies, has submitted its cod and haddock fisheries for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification and if successful will extend sustainable fish choices for consumers on a global scale. Icelandic Group purchases and markets 35% of the total fish quota caught in the seas of Iceland, in value terms the world’s 11th largest exporter of seafood. For the first time, consumers can buy MSC-certified cod caught in the Baltic Sea. From being close to collapse seven years ago, through effective conservation work Baltic cod are now healthy and abundant, and consumers can eat this fish and support a sustainable fisheries economy in the Baltic region.

Discarding bad practise

For the first time, guidelines on reducing discards – a practice that is damaging to the marine environment, especially to recovering fish populations – have been adopted by the UN FAO’s Committee of Fisheries. This decision will help solve a hugely wasteful fishing practice and by emphasising overall good fisheries management, sets an important course for the future. Discards in the North Sea are being tackled through the EU-Norway fisheries agreement, which allows EU countries to incentivise their fleets to adopt modern technology of onboard cameras to record all catches, making fishermen accountable for their catches, not their landings. WWF has pushed strongly for this action as key to its efforts to reform the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

Mekong merry-go-round

A final decision on construction of the Xayaburi dam in Laos has been deferred by the Mekong River Commission (MRC) to the ministerial level, following concerns raised by Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. This follows mounting evidence highlighting risks to biodiversity, fisheries and livelihoods of millions of people in the Mekong River Basin. A WWF-commissioned review found the Environmental Impact Assessment and Feasibility Study for the proposed dam woefully inadequate and well below international standards for such studies. WWF supports a 10-year delay in the approval of lower Mekong mainstream dams, including the Xayaburi hydropower dam, to ensure a comprehensive understanding of all the impacts of their construction and operation.

Global river partnership

WWF is developing a major freshwater partnership initiative to improve water governance in key rivers of the world to achieve a balance between human needs for agriculture, industry and urban areas, and the needs of nature by maintaining natural water flows. Both governments and the private sector are abruptly realizing the risks that mismanaged water resources pose to their future – especially in the face of huge anticipated impacts of climate change and human population increase. WWF will work in partnership with government and water management authorities, the private sector, and other stakeholders in key rivers such as the Ganges and the Yangtze, and countries ranging from India and China to South Africa, Kenya and Pakistan.

Pangasius and tilapia head for certification

WWF has introduced a new category in its seafood guides – “moving towards certification” – to give consumers information so they can support fisheries and fish farms that have committed to achieve the highest standards of sustainable production. This category also recognises genuine effort to reduce the environmental impacts of aquaculture. Working with aquaculture producers and fisheries authorities in Vietnam – which produces almost the entire world supply of pangasius (also known as tra and basa catfish) – and Honduras and Indonesia on production of tilapia, WWF is confident they are on course to comply with the standards to be used by the newly-formed Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC). These products will be indicated as “moving towards certification”.

Stopping climate emissions from forest los

Projects that reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), which also benefit local communities and conservation are key to WWF’s efforts to reduce the 15 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions contributing to climate change. WWF is helping pilot such projects in key forest countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In March 2011, an event in Kinshasa with participants from civil society, government agencies and international organizations launched the Moabi RDC – a platform for civil society to participate in the REDD+ process which supports the DRC government’s REDD policy and helps identify competing legal claims e.g. for logging, mining, and agriculture to facilitate forest management to REDD+ standards.

Korean pine logging ban to help tigers

The Russian government has taken a huge step to save key Amur tiger habitats by banning Korean Pine logging. “Korean Pine has a crucial importance for tiger conservation: its cones are fodder for wild boars, and wild boars are tiger prey” says Igor Chestin, CEO of WWF-Russia. This ban was included by WWF-Russia in the list of top eight measures that must be taken in Russia for tiger conservation, which were presented to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of Russia in 2010. Korean pine harvest is important for at least 50 species, including the wild boar, one of the main prey species of the Amur tiger. The endangered Amur tiger, numbering fewer than 500 in the wild, is found primarily in southeastern Russia and northern China.

Towards sustainability for biofuels

The Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels (RSB) was launched in March as a multistakeholder initiative that has developed a global sustainability standard and certification system for biofuel production. Implementation of the RSB standard is central to WWF’s Bioenergy Strategy, which aims to achieve by 2015 15% global biofuels production to be certified under RSB or other WWF supported credible scheme. Following years of cooperation, the Chinese State Forest Administration (SFA) released guidelines for sustainable bioenergy plantations, including jatropha. China has ambitious plans to expand bioenergy plantations, and the guidelines incorporate key concepts advocated by WWF and certification schemes such as the RSB.

Forest solutions to climate change

At an event in January in Jakarta to celebrate the UN Year of Forests, 600 government and industry leaders joined former US Vice President Al Gore and WWF Indonesia CEO Dr Efransjah, to discuss the private sector’s role in sustainability and addressing climate change. WWF launched its Green Business Network, a business-to-business platform supporting transformational change in the forestry, palm oil and mining sectors in the 22 million hectare Heart of Borneo (HOB). WWF and its partner, The Borneo Initiative, launched a third group of companies with forests totalling 900,000 hectares committed to pursuing Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. This innovative approach has now secured FSC commitments totalling 2.3 million – 10 percent of the HOB.

Check Your Paper

WWF’s Check Your Paper tool for rating the sustainability of paper products now has more than 100 paper products ranked ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ in the coated and uncoated categories, such as copy paper, and printing and writing paper. The tool is designed to help buyers find products with the lowest environmental impact. It assesses forest management, CO2 emissions, water and energy use and legality of source. Go to “WWF urges all paper buyers to check the tool before purchasing and encourages other paper makers to join Check Your Paper,” says Rodney Taylor, Forest Director, WWF International.

WWF’s Energy Report – a call to action

The world’s energy needs could be provided cleanly, renewably and economically by 2050, according to WWF’s Energy Report, which breaks new ground with its consideration of total energy needs including transport, and making adequate and safe energy available to all. The report shows that in four decades we can have a world of vibrant economies and societies powered entirely by clean, cheap and renewable energy and with a vastly improved quality of life. Prepared with energy consultancy Ecofys, the report shows that by 2050 all major energy needs could be met with only isolated residual uses of fossil fuels – vastly reducing anxieties over energy security, pollution and not least, catastrophic climate change.

Clean Energy Ambassadors

Leaders of several major companies, along with key policymakers and thought leaders have demonstrated their support for WWF’s 100 per cent renewable energy vision by signing-up as “Clean Energy Ambassadors”. This initiative, launched in conjunction with The Energy Report brings together a group of influential industry leaders and visionaries to provide an authoritative and knowledgeable voice in the push for a global transition to renewable energy sources. The Energy Report articulates an ambitious but achievable vision that outlines the key changes required to achieve a fully clean energy future and avoid catastrophic climate change. WWF’s Clean Energy Ambassadors will be real allies in helping bring to the table the key questions to be addressed and the key decisions that will need to be taken.

Beyond the Hour

On 26 March, Earth Hour went beyond the hour, sparking environmental commitments from heads of state, companies, cities and individuals in 135 countries. Nepal committed to stopping logging in the 2.3 million ha Chiruya forest. In China, each of the 84 cities participating made commitments – Chengdu will put 80,000 bikes on the streets and Shenyang will reforest 40,000 ha. Earth Hour was hugely popular on social media – videos on YouTube were viewed 2.8 million times, there were 68 million interactions through Earth Hour apps and Facebook, MySpace and other sites, and supermodel Miranda Kerr drove tens of millions to the website. An estimated 2 billion people were reached by Earth Hour. Beyond the hour is helping achieve broader and deeper engagement.