TENDUA - Association for biodiversity conservation

Newsletter n°4

Illicit export of rosewood and ebony from Madagascar

Apart from palm oil plantations in Indonesia or soy in South America, forests suffer simply from the illegal cutting of trees for furniture.

In 2009, 52 000 tons of wood, that is approximately 100 000 trees – rosewood and ebony – which means 14 000 ha of forest from the Masoala, classed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, were exported mainly toward China.

Of course, it makes us wonder: how can we pillage this much precious wood from a UNESCO primary forest world heritage site?

We would say it is the fault of corruption, but we’d also have to point to the importers (China) and the transporters (CGM and Delmas). What kind of steps should be taken to counter this? Or would we have the courage to stand in the way of man’s need to work and step out of poverty? Whatever the case may be, the profit gathered from the illegal exploitation only flows to a handful of people. However, the greater damage concerns us all. And it is certainly not the Malagasy people who protested against this illegal felling last spring.

This is undoubtedly a non-subject for our Western media.

A new target: Ocean pillage

It is not enough for man to threaten the life of the planets’ forest. It seems he also has to attack the ocean floors. It is true that the Sea has always fascinated man, but this fascination has led him once more to conquest, with an objective as long as his nose: his immediate profit (money and power) and making people believe in solutions that concern the well-being of all. Rabelais warned us: “Science without conscience is only the soul’s ruin”.

An article from Figaro magazine from last October 22 explained to us « how the ocean floors will change our lives (…), organisms with incredible faculties will benefit areas of medicine, minerals and fuel”.
The article also reports a recent inventory of 6000 marine species discovered by 2700 researchers in the last 10 years.

Other sources state a total of 230,000 marine species, a number that could be multiplied by 5 or 10, if we were to estimate our ocean’s biodiversity. To sum up, evaluations vary from 1 to 10 million species… “Potential pharmacy for humanity” as the journalist pointed out.

It is now understandable how much the economic factor is at stake: the Chinese have officially invested 55 million Euros in the depths of the Quingdoa bay. This is scary, in that the US, Russia, Japan and France hope to share the grail of the oceans among themselves.

Indeed, it seems that 25 to 30% of the world energy reserves (minerals, gas, hydrocarbons) are to found at the bottom of our oceans, and only 5% have been explored to this day. Technologies have broken the records: the new Chinese submarine explorer has been lowered to 3759 m, and is conceived to go down 7000m, surpassing the French Nautile that can go down a mere 6000m and the Japanese Shinkaï that only flirts with 6500m. For memory’s sake, at 1000m deep, pressure is 100 times higher than at sea level: at 10,000m it is at a pressure of 1 ton/cm²… And our planet, already very damaged by human activities at the surface, is 60% ocean.

We can understand therefore that if scientists get interested in ocean depths, they can only conduct their projects with colossal budgets coming from those who have the financial means: oil, chemical and pharmaceutical industries, who hope to eventually commercialize the riches of the abyss.

But where will this crazy race, which has already begun, for patents and other licenses lead us, on fractions of the genetical heritage of sea organisms from the high sea, meaning they don’t belong to any one country?

Is it to bring us a so-called “better” humanity that involves destroying age-old ecosystems just recently discovered by man?

After cutting down the trees, the Earth’s very lungs, after destroying ecosystems, tampering with the climate with our industrial activities, do we now have to empty out the oceans in the name of “progress” for our so-called civilized society?

Fourth European Shark Week (8-16 October 2010

Spain has been the country that captures the most sharks in Europe. It is also one of the two countries in the EU that allows fishermen to take off shark fins in the ocean. Although dispensations require people to keep the animals’ bodies, the finning at sea makes monitoring difficult. There is thus a risk that a good number of fining remains undetected.
Last year, during the 3rd European week for sharks (10-18 October 2009), people wrote up a petition addressed to the Spanish prime minister, in order to forbid the practice of finning.
In January 2010, more than 90,000 signatures from 16 European countries (20,000 coming from France) were brought to Mr. Zapatero asking him to give up opposing the enforcement of the European banning of shark finning and support the initiative of the EU toward a more efficient regulation of shark finning.
Since then, Spain initiated a pilot study on fins attached to the body. We are waiting for the results.
For the 4th European Shark week, the campaign orchestrated by Shark Alliance (“Focus on Finning”) has been directed toward the European parliamentarians who are co-decision makers in Fishing, since the signing of the Lisbon treaty. They will be asked to sign a Written Declaration [4] for the enforcement of legislature on finning.

The most simple and most efficient way to put the banning of finning into practise would be to require that the sharks be brought to harbour with their fins still intact, “naturally attached”. At the European Parliament, the deputies involved in this question are looking for the support from colleagues toward a Written Declaration calling for the European Commission to establish a requirement of this nature in its next proposal revising this banning.

Half of the signatures from the parliamentary Assembly would allow this declaration to become the Parliament’s official position. That is why it’s important to solicit your euro-deputies during the next 2 weeks. By participating in this action, you help determine the survival of the shark population, because finning is the principal cause of their disappearance in the world.
You can sign the petition on line at the following website:

Make sure you do so before the beginning of December 2010.
And in your everyday life, you can pay attention to products containing shark’s squalene (in cosmetics and food complements) and to caterers and restaurants proposing shark to their menus.

Source: Shark Alliance

[4A written declaration is a text of a maximum of 200 words on a matter falling within the European Union’s sphere of activities. 
Written declarations are printed in all the official languages, distributed and entered in a register. 
MEPs can use written declarations to launch or relaunch a debate on a subject that comes within the EU’s remit. A group of up to five MEPs can submit a written declaration by presenting a text to be signed by their colleagues. 
If the declaration is signed by a majority of the MEPs, it is forwarded to the President, who announces it in plenary. 
At the end of the part-session, the declaration is forwarded to the institutions named in the text, together with the names of the signatories. 
It is included in the minutes of the sitting at which it is announced. 
Publication in the minutes closes the procedure

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