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SPECIAL REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS : Editors Note : This issue highlights the tragic consequences of the world’s love of shrimp and its dire effect on the people caught in its cycle.
Bad Cocktail: Labor Abuse in Thailand’s Shrimp Industry
THAILAND - Shrimp is big business in Thailand, thanks to an appetite in the United States that continues to grow. Today, a third of country’s exported shrimp goes to the U.S., its top customer, where retail giants like Walmart and Costco do high-volume sales and suburban Red Lobsters offer bargain blue plate specials. Breakthroughs in aquaculture have helped Thai producers keep up with the rising demand, but there’s a catch to their success: an invisible underclass of Burmese migrant workers, thousands of whom labor in sub-human conditions to keep costs down. Of the estimated 200,000 Burmese migrants working in Samut Sakhon province, the heartland of the Thai shrimp industry, about a third are unregistered and subject to rights abuses. READ MORE
Shrimp Industry Exploits Workers to Satisfy Global Appetite
Thailand - The world--especially the U.S.--wants cheap shrimp. For the $1 billion plus shrimping industry in Thailand, fulfilling this desire comes at the expense of workers. Special correspondent Steve Sapienza reports on the abusive working conditions in the Thai shrimping industry, including corruption, human trafficking and violence. VIEW VIDEO
... MORE STORIES ON HUMAN RIGHTS FOLLOW UNDER THE ASIA HEADING
Niger Delta pollution: Fishermen at risk
NIGER - A pristine paradise - these are not words you often hear to describe the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria. But you get to appreciate the area’s natural beauty whilst wading across lily covered creeks and trekking deep into the forest, accompanied by birdsong. “I’m on the plank now so walk right behind me,” a guide said as we squelched across a muddy swamp trying not to sink in too deep. After walking for about an hour and a half from the village of Kalaba in Bayelsa state, I caught the first glimpse of an expansive tranquil lake through the trees. On the shore are shelters made of wooden poles draped in material. Every two years several families set up a camp at Lake Masi where they fish for just three months. Most people living near the creeks do not benefit from the oil wealth in the region.”After preparing the nylon and woven basket nets we go into the lake and drive the fish into one area,” Woloko Inebisa told me. “By fishing every two years we allow the fish to grow large. If we fished every year there would only be very small fish here,” the 78 year old told me as two men in dug out canoes adjusted the nets inside a section of the lake that had been fenced off with cane reeds. READ MORE
Mapping the Mangroves
QATAR - A project led by Qatar Foundation International (QFI), a US-based ember of Qatar Foundation, engages with environmentally aware individuals to collect and disseminate information about the world’s mangrove forests, which are under threat from industrialization and development in many parts of the world. The project is being run in partnership with Conservation International (CI), a non-profit organization that works to protect natural environments all over the world through scientific research and field work. Launched at the Al Dhakira mangroves near Al Khor, the project encourages visitors to gather data on wildlife species spotted at the site. They can then feed this information into the online resource at mappingthemangroves.qfi.org via their smartphone or tablet. The data is then processed using Ushadidi, an open source mapping platform that enables people anywhere in Mangroves play numerous fundamental – yet often unrecognized and under-appreciated – roles in the maintenance of the planet the world to upload GPS-tagged information from a mobile device, giving very precise location details through the use of a downloadable app. Reports can also be logged by traditional email, through the website portal. READ MORE
Rising tides threaten Tanzania's coastal towns
TANZANIA - Surging Indian Ocean tides have forced hundreds of people in northeast Tanzania’s Pangani District to abandon their homes, as higher seas increasingly threaten settlements along East Africa’s coastline. Several towns and villages are suffering flooding and intrusions of salt water, which are damaging property and tainting clean water supplies. Scientists and government officials attribute the problem partly to climate change, but crumbling sea defenses are also to blame. The increasing disaster threat has led government officials to urge residents to move to higher ground, and to promise to repair seawalls. But the country’s key tourism industry remains at risk as rising seas and worsening storm surges erode beaches and coastal infrastructure, experts say. Flooding has also been worsened by clearing of mangroves which once formed a natural buffer against the ocean waves. READ MORE
Thailand's 'sickening' human rights abuses
THAILAND – A recent report highlights 'the importance of companies in the West to have accurate information on their supply chain,' says EJF lead campaigner. After the publication of a new report on human trafficking, labor abuse and murder in the Thai fish industry on Wednesday, IntraFish talked to Environmental Justice Foundation's (EJF's) lead oceans campaigner Andy Hickman, the main investigator on the report. The details of human rights abuses are sickening, to say the least. “The Thai Department of Special Investigation invited EJF to document their investigation, which happened in March this year,” Hickman said. Fifteen Burmese workers between the ages of 16 to 46 -- who had been working on three separate fishing vessels -- had been subjected to “significant abuse, bonded labor, 20 hours working day without pay, and been at sea for five months at a time.” READ MORE
Thai fisheries human trafficking ‘widespread’
THAILAND - Human trafficking continues to be not only widespread, but also well known within Thailand’s fishing industry, said Steve Trent, executive director of the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF). EJF recently released a report of its investigation into human trafficking in Thai fisheries. Though the report focuses on the plight of 14 Myanmar men trafficked on fishing boats, Trent said the problem extends to all areas of the seafood industry in Thailand, where a thriving industry is fueled by cheap, undocumented labor from neighboring countries with fewer economic opportunities. “I’ve been working in this kind of area for 25 years and I’ve worked in over 40 countries and I’ve seen a lot of things. My impression in what is going on here, is the trafficking in Thailand is very widespread,” he said. Trent said his organization is lobbying for a downgrade of Thailand’s ranking on the U.S. State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, which should be updated in June. READ MORE
PAKISTAN - A sight of Sindh’s coast has a tendency to inspire the human spirit, with its abundant mangroves, sprouting out from the Indus delta, a magical juncture of river and sea, where birds unwind comfortably sitting on mangrove trees and fishes swimming five feet beneath them. It is a place of grand beauty and its mysticism is only exceeded by its aesthetics. For many living species, including humans, these forests provide a home and a source of sustenance, and are integral to survival of biodiversity and communities which have existed here for a long time. These forests, unfortunately, are on the brink of extinction, and so is the habitat upon which many species depend. Receding of Sindh’s coastal mangrove forests is a direct consequence of withholding water supply by dams which has changed the salinity levels within the mangrove covered region. Now, anthropogenic induced climate change has also become a leading cause of onslaught against mangrove forests, and the communities and species which depend upon it. To add to their plight, changing climatic conditions is increasing sea level, due to which salinity of the Indus Delta is dramatically increasing which was already under stress from breakdown of water flow. These forests, in areas including Keti Bunder, are unable to adapt to the pace of changing water salinity and have been condemned to be wiped off the map. READ MORE
VietNam protests US shrimp tariff
VIETNAM - The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP) has protested against a preliminary determination by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) on subsidy margins for frozen shrimp imports from Vietnam. In its preliminary determination released on Thursday, according to a Vietnam Television correspondent in the U.S., the DOC determines a subsidy margin of 5.08 percent on shrimp from Minh Qui Co., a subsidiary of Minh Phu Seafood Corp., 7.05 percent on Nha Trang Seafoods Co., and 6.07 percent on others. If anti-subsidy tariffs are imposed, Vietnam’s shrimp exports to the U.S. will face both anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties, making it harder for Vietnamese exporters to survive in the American market. READ MORE
Editor’s Note – The following story comes from a town called Mapusa. MAP USA does not have any affiliation with this town, but we hope to!
Mangroves hacked, cleared at Tuem
INDIA - A large tract of mangroves has been hacked and cleared in patches along the roadside at Arabo in Tuem by a private party during the last few weeks, sources said. A few labourers were engaged to fell the trees and clear the large area along the road from Dhargal to Tuem by a rivulet branching off from the Chapora river. The work had commenced a few weeks back and several hectares of mangroves have been hacked while the authorities were allegedly slow to react. The workers have constructed a hut at the site for resting during breaks while the clearing of the large areas was in progress. It is not clear why the mangroves have been hacked but on the other side of the rivulet, there is a aquaculture farm and there is speculation that a similar project is being pursued here. READ MORE
Noted Costa Rican Environmentalist Killed
COSTA RICA - An environmentalist who worked to protect leatherback turtles on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast was found dead on a beach used by drug traffickers, authorities said. Costa Rica's Judicial Investigation Police said in a statement that a motive in the killing of Jairo Mora Sandoval has not been determined. Mora Sandoval was a volunteer with the nonprofit group Widecast, which protects turtle nests from poachers in Moin beach in Limon province. He had had his hands tied behind his back and had been shot in the head, said Widecast director Didiher Chacon. Mora Sandoval, 26, had been patrolling the beach along with four other female volunteers Thursday night when masked men kidnapped them. The women escaped their attackers and went to police, Chacon said. READ MORE
Second International Symposium on Mangroves as Fish Habitat
MEXICO - Throughout the tropical and subtropical coasts around the world, mangrove forests serve as the physical lattice that provide protective breeding, feeding, and nursery areas for a wide variety of marine life, including many economically important species. This symposium will bring together scientists from around the globe to share knowledge on the links between fisheries, ocean health, and the growing need for protecting the mangrove ecosystem. Symposium topics will include: Community Form and Function, Habitat and Productivity, Species Diversity and Interactions, Commercial and Artisanal Fisheries, Recreational Fisheries, Ecotourism, Conservation and Education, Restoration Programs, Blue Carbon and Ecosystem Services. In addition there will be a restoration workshop and field trips to local mangrove areas. The meeting will be held at the El Cid Moro Beach Resort, Mazatlan, Mexico. Venue details, registration, and abstract submission dates will be posted soon. READ MORE
Severe ecological damage, from mangroves to the Black Forest
MEXICO - "If we could define death of nature, we would say this ... All that lives here are arachnids, crabs and insects. The rest is dead ", says the expert Javier Rojas on some of the coastal areas of Chiapas damaged. Tapachula, Chiapas Mangrove forests are places that have the magic of the stories of Lewis Carroll at times dark and other times light, where animals take on other dimensions. In Tapachula, Chiapas, in the southern Pacific coast and a few miles from the border with Guatemala, these ecosystems are fundamental to economic, social and environmental activity south of our country. There are mangrove forests in 17 states of Mexico and represent a total area of 770 000.57 acres. Campeche, Quintana Roo, Yucatan, Chiapas and Oaxaca are the places of greatest extension. In Mexico, the estimated loss rate per year, according to the Institute of Ecology, is 2.5 percent, at this rate, by 2025 the surface of the vegetation of the country will be reduced by 50 percent. Although they are areas protected by the Federal Government as a World Heritage Areas, today, 70 percent is in a state of devastation. READ MORE (Spanish)
Shrimpers wary of still-secret TPP contents
USA - The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed multinational trade agreement intended to further liberalize the economies of the Asia-Pacific region. If approved, its most-likely impact on the U.S. seafood market would be an influx of farmed Vietnamese and Malaysian shrimp — to the detriment of Gulf Coast shrimpers. Provisions of the deal still kept secret could have wide ranging effects. TPP has been under negotiation since 2010. Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S. and Vietnam are the current negotiating partners. The United States already has free trade agreements (FTAs) that include seafood trade with many of the participants. For example, Chile is a major exporter of farmed salmon to the U.S., but tariffs on most Chilean products are already at zero and others are scheduled to be eliminated by 2015 under an existing FTA. So, there would be no effect on tariff rates. READ MORE
US sets preliminary CVD shrimp rates
USA - The U.S. government announced preliminary countervailing duty (CVD) rates for shrimp imports for seven countries under investigation. Rates ranged from less than 1 percent — or de minimus, in which no duties are collected — to more than 62 percent. The U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) announced its preliminary determinations on frozen warmwater shrimp from China, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. While Ecuador and Indonesia escaped without any collectable duties (most producers were assigned rates less than 1 percent), the DOC found that many producers and exporters received countervailable subsidies. In China, Zhanjiang Guolian Aquatic Products Co. and its affiliates received a rate of 5.76 percent; all other producers and exporters in China were also assigned a preliminary subsidy rate of 5.76 percent. READ MORE
How to Fix the World’s Seas
ECUADOR - The problems facing the world’s oceans and marine resources can seem insurmountable: overfishing, wasteful by-catch, pollution, privatization… Many were discussed at Slow Fish earlier this month, but one conference in particular heard inspiring examples from around the world of a solution that could be the answer to many of those problems. “Towards Collective Management of Common Resources,” chaired by Roberto Danovaro from the Polytechnic University of the Marche, heard mostly from fishermen, from Ecuador, Colombia, Spain and France, who have been involved in setting up and running co-management systems. In these systems, instead of regulations being dictated by a central government, the local fishing communities themselves work with local authorities and other stakeholders to come up with sustainable and sensible ways to manage who fishes what, how and where. Lider Gongora of C-CONDEM, the national network for the defense of the mangrove ecosystem in Ecuador, described the incredible benefits that mangroves bring to the environment and the humans who live around them. But in Ecuador, and many other countries, locals are being evicted from their villages, the mangroves are being chopped down and the estuaries polluted to satisfy the huge demand for farmed shrimp in the United States, Japan and Europe. READ MORE
From a reader (A comment posted on our MAPs Blog May 15)
I had fun reading this. And it is easy to understand. Nice going.
RE: MAP News Issue 310 March 16, 2013
~ WE WELOCME YOUR LETTERS - If you’d like to have the last word on this or any other mangrove related topic, please send us your submission for upcoming newsletters. We’ll choose one per issue to have “the last word”. While we can’t promise to publish everyone’s letter, we do encourage anyone to post comments on our Blog at www. mangroveactionproject.blogspot.com
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