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  • WWF objection prompts review of Mexican tuna fishery's impact on dolphins in the Eastern Pacific

    Common dolphin, Azores Isands. © Brian J. Skerry / National Geographic Stock / WWFGLAND, Switzerland, 23 June 2017 – The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification of an Eastern Pacific tuna fishery has been placed temporarily on hold following strong concerns raised by WWF that impacts of the fishery on depleted dolphin populations in the region have not been fully examined and addressed. 

    In October 2016, WWF filed an objection to an MSC assessment conducted by an independent certifier of the Northeastern Tropical Pacific purse seine yellowfin and skipjack tuna fishery based on two factors: that the information used to assess fishery impacts on depleted dolphin species was not transparent and that the assessment ultimately did not accurately account for impacts of the fishery on dolphin populations.

    The independent adjudicator assigned to consider WWF's objection during a hearing in May has now remanded the decision to certify the fishery. The certifier must now reconsider whether there is sufficient evidence that the fishery is not hindering the recovery of the dolphin species in question. 
     
    "The existing science does not support the conclusions made in the original assessment and is insufficient to show that this fishery meets the MSC standard when considering all fishery impacts on depleted dolphins in the region," said Franck Hollander, Seafood Officer for WWF-Germany and the global team lead for WWF on this certification effort. 

    In the waters of the Eastern Pacific, one of the techniques used for decades to catch tuna involves targeting schools of tuna associated with dolphins, a practice with a history of contributing to high dolphin mortality. Despite reductions in the number of dolphins killed by this practice in recent years, it is unknown whether populations have recovered from dramatic declines that began in the late 1950s and continued though the early 1990s.

    Hollander added, "Given the historical impact of the fishing technique used by this fishery, it was critical to WWF that the MSC assessment was done carefully and in strict accordance with the MSC requirements.  We are committed as a stakeholder to use our collective expertise to hold the process to account and push for the best possible outcome for the marine environment, fisheries and local communities."

    WWF is calling for scientific evidence that the fishery does not likely hinder the recovery of the depleted species directly impacted in order for it to be certified. The certifier now has ten days to respond to the remand. A final decision on the certification is expected once the remand process is complete.

    "As this fishery strives to meet the MSC standard, there is an opportunity for all stakeholders to work together to improve fishing practices and the availability of up-to-date scientific information on the impacted dolphin stocks," said Enrique Sanjurjo, Lead, Food Practice, WWF-Mexico.

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    For more information, please contact:

    Rucha Naware | WWF International | rnaware@wwfint.org | +91 961 916 0232
    Scott Edwards | WWF International | sedwards@wwfint.org | +44 7887 954116
     
    About WWF
    WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit www.panda.org/news for latest news and media resources and follow us on Twitter @WWF_media
     

  • Croatia: Watershed moment for the Great Waterfall and Plitvice Lakes National Park

    The Great Waterfall in Plitvice National Park, Croatia © WWF / Petra Boic PetracZagreb – This week, local communities living in and around Croatia's Plitvice National Park and veterans' associations came together to symbolically halt traffic at a wooden bridge near Plitvice Sela to draw attention to the numerous threats facing Croatia's only UNESCO World Heritage site.

    Known worldwide for its lakes, Plitvice National Park has long attracted thousands of visitors and interest but in recent years, unprecedented pressure from tourism and ill-planned construction projects threaten to impact the park's waters and biodiversity.

    Excessive water use has left the park's Great Waterfall running dry, with only 40 per cent of its maximum water capacity currently available. Unless urgent action is taken, Plitvice National Park could be inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger. 

    "A series of ill-informed decisions have left Croatia's most precious natural pearl at unprecedented risk. Waste water flows, one of the impacts we are seeing of the uncontrolled increase in tourists and irresponsible construction projects in the area, are already affecting the Great Waterfall and the survival of its unique flora and fauna," said Irma Popović Dujmović, project officer, WWF-Adria. "We cannot risk losing Croatia's icon of protected nature, and the many jobs entire local communities depend on."

    1.3 million people are estimated to visit Plitvice National Park annually and since 2010, overnight stays in Plitvice have increased as much as 12-fold to about 39,000. As visits increase, it is critical that the park adopts a sustainable management plan that balances the potential for growth with the need for greater environmental protection.

    In the past year, the ministry of construction and spatial planning has issued permits for the construction of 35 new private apartments, bed and breakfasts and restaurants. Even the bridge where people gathered on Wednesday 21 June, is estimated to be crossed every day by dozens of trucks weighing up to 40 tonnes while its maximum capacity is stated to be 3.5 tonnes only.

    WWF is calling on the Croatian ministry of construction and spatial planning to urgently start working with the ministry of environmental protection and energy to prevent the destruction of Plitvice Lakes.

    In addition to being a UNESCO World Heritage site, Plitvice National Park park is also part of the Natura 2000 network of protected areas requiring the Croatian government to ensure legal protection of the site against destructive projects.

    "We urge the government to work together with local communities and relevant stakeholders to ensure a more sustainable management of the park. By planning projects that involve local communities and take into consideration the natural values of the park, we can ensure Plitvice's beauty and biodiversity are protected while promoting social and economic development for all," added Popović Dujmović.

    A WWF report "Protecting people through nature: places of world natural heritage as a driver of sustainable development" published last year as part of the Saving Our Shared Heritage campaign showed that nearly half of the world's natural heritage sites are endangered by harmful industrial activities.
     

  • WWF stands with victims' families of the devastating forest fire in Portugal

    Portuguese forests - a unique heritage © WWF Med POLisbon, 18 June 2017 – WWF expresses solidarity with the victims' families and the firemen fighting the ongoing forest fire in Pedrogão Grande, Leiria area, in the center of Portugal. WWF is deeply saddened by the numerous human victims.

    The arid and flammable nature of Mediterranean forests (which include Portugal), climate change, human neglect and, above all, the lack of adequate forest management that acts to prevent forest fires, form a lethal combination that threatens forests and the security of local populations.

    WWF urges the Portuguese government to take urgent action to prevent forest fires and accelerate the process of "forest reform" that began last year. The focus of efforts should shift from combating forest fires as they arise to preventing them from existing, through responsible long-term forest management. Responsible forest management is more effective and financially more efficient than financing the giant firefighting mechanisms that are employed every year. 

    "We are extremelly sad and shocked by this unprecedented tragedy in terms of human victims. We strongly believe that good management practices should prevent forest fires and protect people's lives and livelihoods, "said Rui Barreira from WWF in Portugal.

    "The tragedy we are living today in Portugal could happen tomorrow in any country of the Mediterranean region, as well as the world. WWF is calling all Mediterranean governments to engage in better fire prevention strategies yet this summer." added Paolo Lombardi, WWF Mediterranean Director.

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    For more information, please contact: Anne Rémy, WWF Mediterranean Director of Communications
    Mob. + 39 338 66 06 287 - e-mail: aremy@wwfmedpo.org
    Follow us on Twitter: @WWF_Med