A species of shark that uses its fins to “walk” along the bottom of the ocean floor has been discovered off the coast of Indonesia. The shark, Hemiscyllium halmahera, uses its fins to wiggle along the seabed and forage for small fish and crustaceans, scientists from Conservation International said on Friday.
The shark, which has wide horizontal stripes, grows to a maximum length of just 30in and is harmless to humans.
It was found off the remote eastern island of Halmahera, one of the Maluku islands.
The conservation group said it hoped the discovery would once again demonstrate that most sharks pose no threat to humans.
The find also highlights the extraordinary marine diversity in Indonesia whose chain of islands is home to at least 218 species of sharks and rays, and the country’s recent efforts to protect species under threat of extinction, Conservation International said.
Once a leading source of dried shark fin and other shark products, Indonesia over the last six months had dedicated new marine preserves to sharks and rays, CI said.
Indonesian scientists working with the conservation group said they hoped the new shark find would help that effort, by deepening interest in marine tourism.
“This is the third walking shark species to be described from eastern Indonesia in the past six years, which highlights our tremendous shark and ray biodiversity,” said Fahmi, a shark expert at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences.
“We now know that six of the nine known walking shark species occur in Indonesian waters, and these animals are divers’ favourites, with excellent potential to help grow our marine tourism industry.”
Source: The Guardian
Biofuel project funded by UK ‘leaves Africans without food’
Thousands of people in one of Africa’s poorest countries are going hungry because of a biofuels “land grab” by a firm that receives funding from the Department for International Development, a charity claims.
ActionAid accuses the Swiss company Addax Bioenergy of threatening livelihoods in rural communities in Sierra Leone, where it runs an extensive sugar-cane plantation.
Addax, which will soon begin the first commercial shipping of biofuels from Africa to Europe, receives funding from a UK-based development fund that received just under $150m (£97m) from DfID in 2012-13.
The Addax project, set up in 2008, saw the company take a 50-year lease on 57,000 hectares of land in the Makeni region of northern Sierra Leone. Due to begin exporting in 2014, the project will produce 85 million litres of ethanol a year, for petrol – enough to meet 12 per cent of the UK’s ethanol consumption in 2011/12.
The scheme had been promoted as an example of an environmentally and socially responsible biofuels project. But following visits to the Addax project and 100 interviews with local people, ActionAid claims that the company is harming the livelihoods of 13,000 people, across 60 villages.
Of those surveyed, 99 per cent said that food production had declined in their communities, and 90 per cent said that loss of farmland to the Addax project had been responsible. More than three quarters of local people said that they had never seen the land lease agreements with Addax and 85 per cent said that they had not been adequately informed about the pros and cons of the company’s investment in their land, the charity claimed.
The project is funded by a number of development banks and Government-backed funds, including the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF), which receives substantial funding from DfID.
Tim Rice, ActionAid’s biofuels policy adviser and author of the report, told The Independent: “It is deeply concerning that DfID, whose aim is to reduce poverty around the world, is funding a project in one of the poorest countries in Africa which is pushing people off their land and into hunger.”
Fiona Hall, Liberal Democrat MEP for North-east England, and a member of the European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy and Development committees, told The Independent she would call for a European Commission investigation into the project. “It is a matter of great concern,” she said.
A DfID spokesperson said ActionAid’s claims should be investigated. “EAIF makes their own commercial funding decisions,” the spokesperson said. “As one of EAIF’s funders, we would expect them and their fund managers to investigate any allegations raised and to seek reassurance from the company.”
An Addax spokesperson said the project in question “is already held up as a positive example by the authorities in Sierra Leone, and by international organisations like the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the UN and the African Development Bank.”
Source: The Independent
Editorial: SELVA-Vida Sin Fronteras
Gustavo López Ospina
Pieter Jan Brouwer
Assistant: Emilia Romero
The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice is associated with the International Environmental Mission, a grass roots citizens movement created by Chilean Senator Juan Pablo Letelier.
SELVA Vida Sin Fronteras acknowledges Kevin Schafer’s important contribution towards protecting the highly endangered Amazon pink fresh water dolphin. Title photographs of our “The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice” were taken by Mr. Schafer.