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Friday Fishy News - November 3


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Aquarium fish turn into pumpkin for Halloween


October 31

AN aquarium in Japan is celebrating Halloween this year with 5,000 fish that appear to turn into a pumpkin.

Halloween is not as big a holiday in Japan as it is in the west, but just tell that to an aquarium in Yokohama and thousands of yellow-striped butterfish.

According to NBC11.com, the fish and a diver are key to producing an illusion that the fish are a round pumpkin, with a typical pumpkin face.

When the face is flashed for the audience, the diver gets the fish to make a ball as a round background for the face.

Halloween is relatively new to Japan, but more and more Japanese have been introduced to the holiday due to the influence of the United States.

Some shopping streets are lined with pumpkins and bats this season, and lately Japanese children have even begun going house to house looking for treats.

Candles, flowers for the… fish?

By Eva Visperas

ABS-CBN News - Philipines

October 31

DAGUPAN CITY - If Stephen King has his "Pet Sematary," Dagupan has its own cemetery for fish and other members of the life aquatic. And it’s not one for the horrors.

On All Saints’ Day, candles, flowers and prayers, too, will be offered for them at the fish cemetery, the only one of its kind in the country.

The 500-square-meter circular cemetery in Barangay Bonuan Binloc was originally intended for endangered species such as dolphins and sea turtles that have beached along the Lingayen Gulf, according to Dr. Westly Rosario, executive director of National Fisheries Research and Development Institute.

But Rosario told The STAR that it eventually became a common gravesite for fish being studied by scientists of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) for research and breeding purposes like the sabalos (mother bangus), tilapia, carp, prawns among others.

"It’s part of our effort in making people aware that we should also learn to value other creatures, especially the friendly sea mammals," Rosario said.

The 14 dead dolphins and sea turtles buried here are identified individually through nametags on their gravesite, stating each one’s common name, scientific name, average weight and date buried.

The first sea mammal to be buried here was a 1.2-ton whale christened "Moby Dick," which BFAR men seized from fishermen from Malabon after they caught it ashore in 1999.

Later, other dead fish joined them in the pet graveyard as they were buried beside katuray trees that surround the cemetery.

The cemetery, which lies within the sprawling 24-hectare compound of the BFAR’s National Integrated Fisheries Technology Development Center, has attracted visitors from all walks of life.

"It has become an instant celebrity," Rosario said, noting that it has been featured several times in the media for All Saints’ Day.

Rosario, who is also the research center chief of the BFAR here, said he has instructed caretakers to offer candles, flowers and short prayer for the dead fish tomorrow.

"They have overshadowed us in media mileage," Rosario joked.

Since it has been attracting curious visitors and Manila-based mediamen, Rosario has spruced up the area by painting white the big stones surrounding the graveyard.

He said a small shed would be built in the area where people can take better photos of the site.

Once darkness falls on the pet cemetery tomorrow, torches will be lit in its four corners for night visitors.

How fish oils helped violent schoolchildren keep their cool

By Laura Clark

Daily Mail - UK

November 1

The case for giving fish oils to children has been boosted by a study which found the supplements helped youngsters with severe behavioural problems to control their anger.

Results of a trial involving 28 boys found they had fewer violent outbursts while taking daily doses of the fatty acids.

The ten to 16-year-olds were studying at Eaton Hall Special School in Norwich, which takes pupils with behavioural and emotional difficulties, including autism.

In the six months prior to the trial, students had 112 angry outbursts which required teachers to physically restrain them.

This dropped to 36 during the six-month study, when they were given 'Eye q' supplements alongside healthier school meals.

The capsules, made by Equazen, contain omega-3 fish oils and omega-6 evening primrose oil.

The biggest impact was on pupils who had been involved in the most violent incidents. One youngster had to be restrained ten times prior to the trial but recorded no incidents while taking the capsules.

The study suggests students become better able to control their anger, as teachers were less likely to have to intervene to calm them down.

Its findings are certain to renew calls for free fish oil supplements to be given to schoolchildren.

Ministers had commissioned the Food Standards Agency to review the evidence for medicating youngsters, but its experts found the benefits were unclear. However nutritionists have since written to the agency questioning the conclusions.

Lianne Quantrill, project co-ordina-tor at Eaton Hall, said: 'These statistics suggest that as a result of the new health programme and supplements, the children were able to control their anger better, so while outbursts still occurred, they were less extreme, requiring minimal physical intervention from a teacher.'

Trials have suggested fish oils do not just benefit youngsters with behavioural problems.

Dr Madeleine Portwood, an educational psychologist, was involved in a study in Durham which found the supplements significantly improved short-term memory among primary pupils and enhanced achievements in reading and spelling.

A further study in the city showed toddlers with below-average communication skills could catch up in just months by taking essential fats.

Dr Portman said parents who saw the positive results of supplements were inclined to improve their children's diets.

Fish Group Sues Department of Water Resources For Taking Endangered Salmon

By Dan Bacher

Central Valley - USA

October 31

The California sportsfishing Protection Alliance opened a new offensive in the battle to save the Delta when it sued the State of California for failure to protect endangered salmon and Delta smelt.

An alliance of sportsfishing groups recently filed a lawsuit against the State Department of Water Resources (DWR) to compel them to comply with a state law requiring them to protect endangered Delta fish species, opening a new front in the battle to save the California Delta.

The lawsuit charges DWR for violating the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) by capturing and killing threatened spring-run chinook salmon, endangered winter-run chinook salmon and threatened Delta smelt at its South Delta pumping facilities without securing the required permit from the California Department of Fish and Game.

Watershed Enforcers, a project of the California sportsfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA), filed the lawsuit as part of an aggressive offensive by a broad coalition of fishing groups, environmental organizations and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe to save the Delta ecosystem from imminent collapse. At an initial hearing on the lawsuit held on October 6 in Alameda Superior Court, the Judge set a November 17 hearing date for the lawsuit.

The action asks the court to order the defendant either “immediately cease” operation of its South Delta pumping plant in a manner that kills fish, procure authorization from the DFG pursuant to CESA or show cause why such cessation or authorization is not mandated by CESA, according to Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California sportsfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA).

“One only has to look at DWR's refusal to comply with the most basic requirements of California law protecting endangered species to understand why the Delta's ecosystem is experiencing catastrophic collapse,” said Jennings.

“At a time when state and federal agencies are spending millions of dollars on emergency studies to identify the cause of the crash of Delta fisheries, DFG and DWR have conspired, with a wink and a nod, to exempt the State Water Project pumps - the largest killer of endangered species in the estuary - from having to comply with the fundamental requirements of CESA,” he emphasized.

The lawsuit occurs at a time when the California Delta, the most significant estuary on the West Coast, is encountering its greatest environmental crisis in history. Four pelagic species - Delta smelt, longfin smelt, juvenile striped bass, and threadfin shad - have collapsed to record low levels over the past four years. Last fall's tow net survey by the DFG produced the lowest numbers of Delta smelt ever, while this summer's survey yielded the lowest ever juvenile striper index.

In addition, the zoo and phyto plankton species that formerly sustained these species have also declined to record low levels.

Meanwhile, the state and federal governments have spent millions of dollars over the past decade to bring back spring and winter run chinook salmon. Although both species are on the rebound, their recovery is dramatically threatened by the food chain crash.

The POD (Pelagic Organism Decline) team of state and federal scientists now studying the Delta has pinpointed three causes for the decline - water exports, toxic chemicals and exotic species.

At press time, Jerry Johns, Deputy Director of the Department of Water Resources, said he couldn't comment on the specifics of the lawsuit since the Department lawyers were reviewing the documents and he hadn't read it yet himself.

He acknowledged that the state hadn't acquired the permits, but said the water agency and DFG had signed a “complicated and detailed patchwork” of agreements beginning in 1986 that protect Delta fish.

When Fish and Game Code was amended to include Section 2081.1 of CESA, passed by the State Legislature in 1997, he said that a document including the previous agreements, such as the four pumps agreement between DWR and DFG, was grandfathered into the law.

Johns noted that the federal NOAA fisheries biologists have been consulting with DWR since 1995 and complying with their biological opinions under the Endangered Species Act.

“While we didn't get a take permit, we think that we satisfied the intent and letter of CESA,” said Johns. “It's not like we are doing this without consulting with state and federal biologists in an aggressive manner.”

However, Jennings said that the state's violation of CESA is very “cut and dried,” since no permits were ever obtained for threatened species, as specified by the law. Jennings believes that the state didn't get the permit because the California ESA is stronger than the federal ESA, requiring mitigation of the damage done by the killing of endangered or threatened species. The law reads “the impacts of the authorized shall be minimized and fully mitigated.”

Whereas the federal government take permit issued by NOAA Fisheries allows the state an “allowable take” of endangered species until water export operations are suspended at key times of year for fish migration, it requires no specific mitigation measures or money set aside for mitigation.

Under CESA, the killing or harming (“taking”) of listed species may occur only if DFG finds that the “taking” is consistent with an incidental take statement issued pursuant to the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) or an incident “take” permit issued by the Director.

“How long does it take for the DFG to come up with a permit and measures to mitigate the endangered fish lost in the pumps?” he asked.

Unlike the federal ESA, the state's CESA requires that any “take” authorization must ensure that impacts are minimized and fully mitigated; required mitigation measures are capable of successful implementation; and adequate funding exists to implement mitigation measures. No permit may be issued if the action will jeopardize the continued existence of a species, according to Jennings.

The lawsuit occurs at a time when the state and federal governments are pushing through a plan, the South Delta Improvement Program, to redesign the hydrology of the Delta to allow the state and federal water pumps to export more water to southern California and the Westlands Irrigation District. At the same time, the Bureau of Reclamation is pursuing another project, the Intertie project that would connect the state and federal export facilities, also for the purpose of sending more water down south.

“Our intent is to put this case on the fast track,“ said Michael Lozeau, counsel for Watershed Enforcers. “All three of these species face the risk of extinction and the Delta smelt, in particular, is hanging on by a thread. DWR, as well as the DFG, must immediately begin to implement the state's endangered species law to protect these fish.”

Bill Jennings emphasized that this lawsuit is only the first of several “offensive actions” planned to save the Bay-Delta fishery from being destroyed by increasing state and federal water exports. He pointed to the recent settlement between fishermen, water contractors and the state and federal government that will restore water and salmon to a dry 60 mile stretch of the San Joaquin River as evidence that anglers and environmentalists can win the battle for the Delta if they persist, like they did for 18 years on the San Joaquin.

“It is going to take a band of environmentalists, fishermen and Indian Tribes to move the resource agencies into formal proceedings, bound by rules of procedure and evidence, in lieu of inaction by the old boy network that has brought the Delta to its knees,” said Jennings.

Fish, land and cash part of new land-claim deal

Canadian Press - CTV Canada

October 29

VICTORIA -- Fish, land and cash are the highlights of a British Columbia land-claims treaty billed as the first agreement reached under a government and aboriginal process that has been grinding along since the 1990s.

Three levels of government will gather in Prince George on Sunday to initial the final agreement between the 315-member Lheidli T'enneh Band and the federal and B.C. governments.

It will be the first B.C. treaty since the historic Nisga'a deal signed in 1998 with aboriginals in the province's vast northwest.

The Nisga'a treaty, after more than 100 years of on-again, off-again negotiations, was hailed as British Columbia's first modern-day treaty.

The Prince George treaty is being billed by Ottawa and the province as another huge step in building strong and lasting relations with aboriginals.

There are about 200 aboriginal nations in B.C., but less than 20 have their own treaties and about a dozen of those treaties were signed in the mid-1800s between the aboriginals and representatives of the British Crown prior to the province joining Canada.

The Canadian Press has learned the major components of the treaty include a sockeye salmon fishing agreement, rights to 43.3 square kilometres of land in and near the central B.C. city of Prince George and more than $13 million in cash.

The fish component includes a renewable salmon harvest contract negotiated outside of the treaty that grants the Lheidli T'enneh limited rights to less than one per cent of the annual allocation of the valuable Upper Fraser River sockeye run to the commercial fishery, a source said.

The less than one per cent figure works out to roughly 6,000 salmon a year on average.

The treaty allows the Lheidli T'enneh to increase their commercial salmon allotment, but it means reducing the amount of salmon they are allowed to catch for food, social and ceremonial purposes, an aboriginal right guaranteed under the Constitution.

The source said the band can drop up to 50 per cent of its social allotment of salmon in a year in exchange for more commercial salmon, but the request for a change must be made to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans before the start of fishing season.

The amount of food, social and ceremonial salmon available to the band is based on surveys of the number of fish returning to spawn in rivers and streams, but averages about 9,000 sockeye a year.

The number of ceremonial fish available to the band will be capped at 12,500 sockeye regardless of the size of the run, the source said.

The fish component of the treaty provides the Lheidli T'enneh with a one-time grant of $3 million to monitor and assess salmon stocks in the Upper Fraser River area. It also includes a one-time grant of $270,000 to purchase the equipment for the monitoring program.

"The fish are a very important aspect to the Lheidli T'enneh,'' the source said. "The sockeye salmon fishery has always been a mainstay of their food supply and also their sense of who they are.''

The City of Prince George helped put together parts of the land package in the treaty, the source said.

The Lheidli T'enneh originally claimed 45,000 square kilometres of property spreading east of Prince George to just west of the Alberta border.

A significant amount of the land parcels in the treaty are within Prince George city limits, the source said.

The treaty includes an agreement between the band, the city and Prince George regional district which harmonizes property taxes, land-use plans and municipal services.

In exchange for the salmon, land and cash, the Lheidli T'enneh Band agree to give up their income tax-free status, just as the Nisga'a did.

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell, federal Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice and Chief Dominic Frederick of the Lheidli T'enneh Band will be part of a signing ceremony in Prince George.

The treaty still requires official ratification by the Lheidli T'enneh, who must hold a referendum, and the federal and B.C. governments. There will be votes on the deal in the B.C. legislature and the House of Commons.

"It's never easy to be a leader,'' said Campbell about the Lheidli T'enneh being the first B.C. aboriginal nation to initial a treaty under the government process.

"It's great work that's been done by the people at the negotiating table and I'm looking forward to Sunday,'' he said.

Campbell's Liberals have made settling treaties and improving the lives of aboriginals a major focus of their second term after spending years questioning aboriginal issues. >

Campbell signalled a major shift in government policy toward aboriginals last year when he reached out to aboriginal organizations and led a first ministers' task force aimed at improving the health, education and social standing of aboriginals across Canada within the next decade.

The premier also backed the former federal Liberal government's Kelowna Accord that called for $5 billion for aboriginals, and he denounced Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives for appearing not to support the deal.

The Lheidli T'enneh treaty is the first of what is expected to be three final treaty agreements this year in B.C.

The Tsawwassen First Nation in suburban Vancouver is close to announcing an initialling ceremony and the Maa-nulth tribal group on the west coast of Vancouver Island is nearing the final agreement stage.


Edited by Flattieman
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