Environment Forum

Brad Pitt, Matt Damon give krill a star turn

There are no small parts, only small actors, or so the old show-biz saying goes. Now there are big stars — Matt Damon and Brad Pitt — playing two of the smallest parts ever. In a far cry from “Ocean’s Eleven” (and 12 and 13) they’re lending their voices to a pair of krill, small shrimp-like creatures that form the base of the Antarctic food web.

Pitt and Damon play Will and Bill, the krill, in “Happy Feet Two,” the sequel to the 2006 dancing-penguins animated feature. Both films have conservation themes. The latest movie  opens  in mid-November.

These Hollywood names might help shine a spotlight on krill at a time when the species is under pressure, according to the Pew Environment Group. An international meeting under way now in Hobart, Tasmania, is expected to consider more protection for these tiny animals, which penguins, seals and whales depend on to survive.

Increasing demand for krill as feed for industrially farmed fish and for nutritional supplements has pushed the krill fishery beyond a sustainable level, the conservation group said in a statement. Krill fishing in some areas could outpace efforts to protect the well-known animals that rely on it.

“Existing efforts to regulate krill catch must be sustained and enforced, so that animals such as penguins and seals are not competing against industrial fishing vessels just to survive,” said Gerry Leape, a senior officer at the Pew group.

Why is this Great White Shark smiling?

For this Great White Shark, it’s even better now in the Bahamas.

The long-running tourist slogan has a new meaning for all 40 of the shark species around the Caribbean island chain after the Bahamian government banned all commercial shark fishing in the approximately  243,244 square miles  (630,000 square kilometers) of the country’s waters.

What’s good for sharks is good for the Bahamian economy. These big fish bring in about $78 million each year, or more than $800 million over the last 20 years, according to the Bahamas Diving Association — the Bahamas is one of the world’s premier shark-watching destinations for divers.

This latest conservation move adds to a 20-year-old ban on longline fishing gear in Bahamian waters. The prohibition on longline fishing — which often nets sharks along with tuna and other big fish that are the fishers’ main aim — is one reason that sharks are thriving around the Bahamas.

U.S. hunters, anglers weigh in on climate change

When people think of hunting and fishing politicians in America — at least prominent ones – two things spring to mind: 1. Republican and 2. Climate change skeptic. Former President George W. Bush, his vice president Dick Cheney and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin all fall into both categories.

But the hunting and fishing crowd — widely seen as reliably Republican because of that’s party’s successful portrayal of itself as the defender of God and guns — has also started to take note of climate change. After all, hunters and anglers are in the outdoors in pursuit of wildlife season after season, year after year.

But what may concern some Republican strategists is that many of them also accept the science of climate change, which overwhelmingly points to fossil fuel emissions as the main cause driving global warming.

Americans go fishing: but is it good for the environment?

As Americans forgo expensive vacations, costly dinners and shopping mall splurges, many are opting instead for the quiet simplicity of fishing, according to the sport fishing industry and reports from bait shops and fishermen.

My colleague Jason Szep has done a report on this which you can read here.

As a life-long angler and fly fishing addict, I have long held that my passion is a green one. Anglers and hunters spend money on license fees that is ploughed into conservation programs. Guide services provide income and employment which gives local communities, tax payers and voters a vested interest in conservation.

There are also organizations like Trout Unlimited  that are dedicated to freshwater conservation and get much of their support from anglers.

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