About Whale of a Time

Whale of a Time is riding the wave of change, promoting successful stewardship of our planet to create a peaceful, morally just, humane and sustainable culture, while ensuring survival of all species and their natural habitats. Whale of a Time organises creative and fun, inspiring and empowering events on environmental issues to encourage active participation living a sustainable lifestyle inspired by a positive attitude. We engage young and old from all walks of life through the Whale of a Time Community, the Whale of a Time Festival and the Whale of a Time Workshop. Our work has been recognised by many national and community and environmental awards schemes.

Whale of a Time Tweats

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

UK sustainable palm oil targets are too weak, say retailers

Retail bodies say they have already signed up to much stricter standards on sustainable palm oil than the government's pledge

Jessica Aldred
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 31 October 2012 16.50 GMT

A palm oil plantation in the Ivory Coast. Photograph: Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images

Retail bodies and charities have criticised the government for setting "weak" targets on the use of sustainable palm oil.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) yesterday asked retailers, manufacturers and charities to sign up to "work towards" ensuring that, by 2015, all palm oil used in food and other products is responsibly produced and does not contribute to deforestation.

But the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said that while the government deserved praise for putting the palm oil issue on the agenda, many of its members had already made more ambitious commitments. The BRC wants other sectors to commit to nothing less than the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standards for sustainable palm oil.

Richard Dodd, head of BRC media and campaigns, said: "Manufacturers have not been prepared to sign up to only using RSPO-certified palm oil by end of 2015. The commitment they have signed up to has been watered down, as it doesn't have a specific timetable and only a commitment to 'work towards' using 100% sustainable palm oil. In order to get the wide range of signatories, the pledge that Defra has settled for is not as good as it should have been, and not as good as the one retailers have already made.

"[The RSPO] is the only worthwhile standard and the one retailers have committed to."

BRC director of food and sustainability, Andrew Opie, said: "If the government is serious about achieving comprehensive change in the way palm oil is produced and saving rainforest habitats, it should be pushing other sectors to follow retailers' lead.

"Retailers have already pledged to meet the world's most rigorous standards on 100% certified sustainable palm oil, and said they will do it by the end of 2015, because that's the way to generate a market for sustainable product and eliminate the rest."

The environment minister, Richard Benyon, said the government would lead the way by ensuring that only environmentally friendly-sourced palm oil would be used in central government food and catering services.

"People want to know that the products they are using are not contributing to deforestation and climate change and many UK businesses are already starting to make changes. Producers, manufacturers and charities will continue working together to speed up the move to 100% sustainable palm oil in everyday products," he said.

Palm oil is one of the world's most rapidly expanding food crops and used extensively in the food industry as frying fats, and as an ingredient in biscuits, margarine, snacks and bakery products. It is also used in the production of biodiesel, in animal feed, soaps and other cleaning products and cosmetics. Its production has been linked to the destruction of rainforest habitats in countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, and it is a rising source of greenhouse gas emissions, which come from clearing forests for crop cultivation.

According to Eurostat data, the UK imported 397,000 metric tonnes of palm oil and 53,000 metric tonnes of palm kernel oil in 2011. Defra has estimated that only 24% was sourced from sustainably certified plantations.

Defra's statement coincides with the annual conference on the ingredient, held by the RSPO in Singapore. Data released by the RSPO this week showed that UK supermarkets including the Co-operative, Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury's, and manufacturers like United Biscuits, Warburtons and Burton's food are already at – or very close to – using 100% RSPO-certified palm oil.

Waitrose said on Tuesday that it would reach its target of 100% fully sustainable palm oil by the end of this year. The supermarket lists palm oil in its ingredients and claims to be the first retailer to use the RSPO logo on its soap. Riyaz Dhalla, Waitrose senior technologist, said: "This is an important issue for our customers and we're delighted to be able to help them make an ethical purchasing decision."

The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) said many food and drink manufacturers had made substantial progress. The FDF director of sustainability, Andrew Kuyk, said: "Many food and drink manufacturers have in place long-standing commitments to using 100% certified sustainable palm oil and the national statement is an important step towards a wider reassurance for consumers that the products they enjoy contain oil from environmentally friendly sources."

Adam Harrison of WWF International – another RSPO member – said that Defra's move was significant, but given the urgency of the situation relating to the impacts on natural habitats relating to palm oil production, the statement needed to go further.

"The impacts of irresponsible and unsustainable palm oil expansion to meet growing demand are completely unacceptable in terms of deforestation, damage to wildlife and climate change. The urgency of the problem needs an equally urgent response. Whilst we welcome the national statement we are concerned that it does not convey clearly enough the need to take action now.

Palm oil is a "hidden oil" for consumers. Currently in the EU, palm oil can be labelled as vegetable oil, meaning that consumers cannot easily make an educated purchasing choice.

Last year it was announced that changes to food labelling would make it easier for consumers to identify products containing palm oil. Changes to the European Food Information Regulations will mean labels have to identify the specific types of vegetable oils that have been used. Businesses are already starting to implement the change, which will be mandatory on all food products from 13 December 2014.

Read article at Guardian

MEPs vote to close 'shark finning' loopholes

By Mark Kinver Environment reporter, BBC News

MEPs have voted to close loopholes that allowed some EU fishing vessels to continue "shark finning".

Although the EU banned removing shark fins at sea and discarding the body, special permits allowed finning to continue legally.

Conservation groups, which say finning was threatening shark numbers, welcomed the European Parliament's decision.

The decision to back the European Commission's proposals will now be considered by EU fisheries ministers.

The resolution was adopted with 566 votes in favour, 47 against and 16 abstentions.

"Parliament's vote represents a major milestone in the global effort to end the wasteful practice," said Sandrine Polti, EU shark policy adviser for the Pew Environmental Group and the Shark Alliance.

"[We have] been working towards this and other fundamental reforms in European shark policies for more than six years and are thrilled with today's vote and the progress we expect to stem from it."

Dr Joanna Swabe, EU director for Humane Society International (HSI), said she was delighted that MEPs had decided not to support the argument to retain the special permits.

"This would have been disastrous for shark protection not just in EU waters but worldwide," she said.

"HSI commends the European Parliament for defending sharks against the cruel and wasteful practice of shark finning."

Shark finning is driven by the fact that the animals' fins are highly valuable in comparison with shark carcasses.

As severed fins could be easily stored, it made economic sense for fishing vessels to remove the fins at sea, rather than bringing the entire animal - which would quickly fill a vessel's cold storage areas - into port.

It is estimated that fins can sell for between 16 and 70 euros (£13- £56; US$20-90) per kilogramme in Asia.

The EU's global catch of sharks ranks second only to Indonesia, yet the European Commission has committed itself - under the EU Action Plan for the Conservation and Management of Sharks - to adopt the necessary measures to conserve shark species and to minimise waste and discards from shark catches.

Finning is also deemed cruel because the fins are often removed while the animal is still alive - it then drowns when it is thrown back into the sea.

Conservationists argued that the issuing of Special Fishing Permits (SFPs) that allowed fins to be removed at sea prevented the EU ban, introduced in 2003, from becoming fully effective.

According to European Parliament data, the largest number of SFPs issued to date were to Spanish and Portuguese vessels (1266 and 145 respectively, between 2004 and 2010).

It added that until 2009, the UK, Germany and Lithuania had also issued SFPs.

Ms Polti observed: "Shark Alliance member groups look forward to continued co-operation in shepherding and promoting a final 'fins-attached' rule and in securing complementary safeguards, such as domestic and international catch limits, to fully address the overexploitation of sharks."

Sold For Parts

The Sunda pangolin (pictured) is the only mammal in the world to be covered in scales. This unique body armour is highly prized in traditional Chinese medicine. The scales are sold with the claim that they tackle a long list of ailments, from helping breastfeeding mothers lactate to curing cancer

Tigers are listed as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List, and trade in tiger parts was banned worldwide in 1990s. Poaching persists though, mainly for their bones for use in traditional Asian medicines. As tigers are synonymous with power, their bones are believed to promote healing. Tiger pelts and other body parts, such as teeth, skin and claws, are also used for decoration

According to wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic, the international demand for rhino horns continues to increase. From 2008-2011 gangs were said to have killed more than 800 rhinos for their horns, which can fetch £22,000 per kilo on the black market. The horns are falsely believed to cure a wide variety of ailments, including cancer.

View article

The Moral Dilemma of Eating Animals

Friday, 23 November 2012

Your Resolution for Everyday!

2010 Resolution from Green Docs on Vimeo.

Save Orangutans and boycott corporations producing products containing palm oil!

Download orangutan palm oil sheet

Greenpeace Urges Philippines to Act on Illegal Fishing

23 November 2012, Palau– Greenpeace International is calling for immediate legal action against a Filipino ship that was previously engaging in an illegal transfer of fish on the high seas a week ago. The Filipino reefer, Sal 19, was found illegally transferring fish to Heng Xing 1, a Cambodian-flagged reefer, along with 2 Indonesian purse seine fishing vessels KM Starcki 10 and KM Starcki 11 on the high seas on November 14th. The Sal 19 is not authorised to operate in the area and is therefore not allowed to fish or transfer fish at sea according to the rules of the relevant management organization, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC).

Due to a major loophole in legislation for international waters, the four vessels engaged in the large-scale illegal transshipment evaded arrest last week. Today, Greenpeace’s ship MY Esperanza encountered the Sal 19 in Palau’s waters, and discovered its vessel name, port city and call sign had been erased from all visible parts of the ship, making it unidentifiable.

As a member of the WCPFC, the Philippines is legally obliged to take immediate steps to investigate and take appropriate enforcement action against this vessel. According to the Captain of the Sal 19, the vessel is expected to arrive in the Philippines port of General Santos on 28 November, just 3 days before the upcoming WCPFC meeting in Manila.

“Violations by fishing vessels such as Sal 19 show the difficulty in enforcing rules and justify calls by Pacific island nations to close Pacific Commons high seas pockets from all fishing.  Pirate fishing not only undermines ocean management and conservation efforts, it is an embarrassment and diplomatic headache for their home countries. The Philippine government must clean up its messy tuna industry and become a responsible player,” said Farah Obaidullah, oceans campaigner from Greenpeace International.

Greenpeace International joined Palau’s marine enforcement official in boarding the vessel for inspection, and collected video and photo evidence showing a series of violations, including the absence of a vessel monitoring system, records and logbook. The captain of Sal 19 admitted to participating in the illegal transshipment when asked by Greenpeace. However, due to the existing loopholes in international law, Palau’s enforcement authority on board MY Esperanza could not take any further legal steps.

"Illegal activities are rampant in international waters around the world where laws and enforcement are at their weakest. To stop this, Greenpeace is calling for the closure of the Pacific Commons and a more comprehensive and legally binding global enforcement system for our oceans," Obaidullah said.

Greenpeace is campaigning for a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the world’s oceans, including in four high seas areas known as the Pacific Commons (1), and for these to be declared off limits to fishing.

The environmental group is also seeking a ban on the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) in purse seine fisheries and a 50% reduction in the catch of bigeye tuna.

These measures are important to keep valuable fish stocks at sustainable levels and will be reviewed at the upcoming meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in Manila from 2-7 December.

MEDIA CONTACTS Renee Chou (Communications Officer aboard the Esperanza):+47 2367 7986, renee.chou@greenpeace.org

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Herakles Farms continues forest clearing for palm oil project, sparking social unrest

Amsterdam, November 19, 2012 – A US-owned company is clearing natural forest in the southwest of Cameroon to establish a large-scale palm oil plantation, heightening social tension as serious questions about the legality of the project persist, Greenpeace International has revealed.

Aerial footage from Greenpeace International taken earlier this month shows how trees in the largely forested concession area have been cleared by SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon (SGSOC), a subsidiary of New York-based Herakles Farms.

The deforestation is taking place despite the fact SGSOC is operating via a 99-year land lease that has not yet been approved by Presidential Decree and is therefore questionable under Cameroonian Law.

If it is not stopped, the planned 73,000-hectare concession will eventually be 10 times the size of Manhattan. It would destroy a densely forested area in a biodiversity hotspot, resulting in severe consequences for the livelihoods of thousands of residents and for the global climate.

“Any large scale industrial projects in an area that is one of the most important watersheds in sub-Saharan Africa and located in one of Africa’s most important biodiversity hotspots are entirely unsuitable,” said Frédéric Amiel, a forest campaigner with Greenpeace International. “The Herakles Farms plantation must be stopped with no conditions.”

Despite claims from the company that the palm oil plantation would spur local economic growth and social development, local and international opposition continues to grow and the continued clearing risks heightening social conflict over the project.

Information received by Greenpeace International indicates that local farmers and villagers are opposed to the plans for their land, imposed without their consultation. People working for SGSOC, meanwhile, are increasingly dissatisfied with pay and working conditions.

Greenpeace International is also alarmed by indications that people who have objected to the project have been harassed at the hands of Cameroonian authorities.

On November 14, Nasako Besingi the director of the local NGO Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE), an organisation campaigning peacefully against the Herakles Farms project, was arrested with three colleagues and detained without charge.

All four were later released following international and local pressure.

Greenpeace calls upon the Cameroonian government to halt the forest clearance, end the project and set up better standards for land allocation and palm oil development in Cameroon that will prevent social conflict, disruption of Cameroonian livelihoods and forest destruction.

Media contact: Frédéric Amiel, forest campaigner, Greenpeace International, mobile: +33 1 80 96 97 43
Just van den Broek, forest campaigner, Greenpeace Africa, mobile: +243970047001
Greenpeace International press desk: +31 20 718 24 70
For photos, contact the picture desk hotline +31 20718 2471

European Artisanal Fishermen's Congress - 2012

The small-scale, coastal fishermen and shellfish harvesters of Europe

To view videos and photos of the congress, go to: http://youtu.be/81nTlIdDBFw


Brussels – 19 November 2012

Small-scale fishermen demand change of course on EU fisheries policy reform

Small-scale fishermen from across Europe are joining forces to put sustainable, artisanal and low-impact fishing at the heart of the on-going reform of European Union (EU) Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Delegates from across the continent, representing dozens of local and regional associations of artisanal fishermen and thousands of fishing sector jobs, gathered at the Brussels European Artisanal Fishermen's Congress. They adopted a joint declaration [1] promoting a new vision for European fishing. The declaration will this week be formally handed over to the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council Presidency.

Small-scale fishing vessels account for 80 percent of Europe’s fishing sector [2], but for decades the vast majority of fishing quotas and EU subsidies have favoured industrial fishing operations, which have in many cases accelerated the depletion of fish stocks and environmental damage to our seas. Over 60 percent of European fish stocks are overexploited [3]. The complacency of national governments, the European Union and European organisations that are meant to represent the interests of the sector in Brussels now threaten to irrevocably destroy the last chance for Europe to achieve sustainable fishing.

The artisanal sector and the seas that it depends on have suffered greatly from years of neglect and the once-in-a-decade reform of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy is a unique opportunity to:

- ensure that those who fish sustainably have a right to fish;

- bring the number of fishing vessels in line with available fish stocks, while preserving jobs in artisanal, low impact fisheries;

- end harmful subsidies and unsustainable and destructive practices;

- restore the health of our seas in Europe and the rest of the world.

“We want to leave a legacy of healthy seas and oceans in a world where there is less, but better fishing. So far, the reform of EU fishing rules is merely tinkering at the edges. Today we are sending a message to our ministers and representatives in the European Parliament that they can no longer ignore the laws of nature, the state of fish stocks and the role of small-scale fisheries. Only once this becomes a reality, can the EU bring the reform process back on track,” said Anne-Marie Vergez, a hake fisherwoman from France.

“Fishing pressure has grown all around us, particularly from big industrial ships. The new fishing rules must get a handle on this, bringing down the number of fishing vessels where there are too many, while giving preferential access to low-impact fishermen,” said Luis Rodriguez, an artisanal fisherman in Galicia, Spain.

“The sea is not an industry. She has her own rules. If we continue to take more fish out of the sea than is sustainable, we will bankrupt her and our sector. Small-scale fishing brings more economic value to local communities than destructive fishing. In times of crisis, national governments and Europe should encourage responsible fishing instead of wasting money on those that accumulate private fortunes by overfishing,” said Dimitris Zannes, a small-scale fisherman in the Southern Aegean in Greece.

“Fishing is a way of life that small-scale fishermen have practiced for generation after generation and that is threatened as never before. While not being caused by artisanal fishermen, overfishing has had a disproportionate effect on their ability to survive. If any boats need to stop fishing, it shouldn’t be the smaller, low-impact boats that provide fish and support directly to local communities,” said Jerry Percy, a small scale fisherman in the UK.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Untouchable Cambodian ship evades arrest by Pacific authorities



Untouchable Cambodian ship evades arrest by Pacific authorities

Pacific Ocean, 17 November 2012 – Greenpeace has been forced to abandon its pursuit of the unregulated Cambodian reefer Heng Xing 1 in the Pacific Ocean due to a lack of legislation that would enable necessary steps to address its involvement in illegal transshipments of fish.

For several days Greenpeace International’s ship Esperanza has been tailing the Heng Xing 1 in an effort to bring this vessel and its owners to justice.

Earlier this week the Cambodian-flagged reefer was caught facilitating the violation of a host of fishing laws, including the transfer of tuna caught by two Indonesian tuna purse seine vessels (KM Starcki 10 and KM Starcki 11) and one Philippine vessel (Sal 19).

Despite repeated calls to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), Greenpeace has now been informed that the reefer is untouchable since the illegal transfer took place in international waters and Cambodia is not a member of the commission.

"We are witnessing the impotence of the WCPFC and the lack of proper enforcement on the high seas. This case is an utter embarrassment to the management of our oceans and illustrates the shocking lack of effective fisheries policies globally," said Farah Obaidullah, Greenpeace International oceans campaigner currently aboard MY Esperanza.

The vessels from which the Heng Xing 1 received fish are sailing under flags regulated by the WCPFC.

"If large-scale fish laundering in the form of transshipment by a Cambodian reefer cannot be stopped, then at the very least the WCPFC must take immediate action against its own fishing vessels providing them with fish," added Obaidullah.

The Pacific is the source of 70% of the world’s tuna, providing coastal communities not only with food but also economic prosperity. For years, Greenpeace has been working with Pacific governments to address overfishing and prevent foreign fishing nations from plundering their fishing grounds.

"Illegal activities are rampant in international waters around the world, where laws and enforcement are at their weakest. To stop this, Greenpeace is calling for the closure of the Pacific Commons and a more comprehensive and legally binding global enforcement system for our oceans," Obaidullah said.

Greenpeace is campaigning for a global network of marine reserves covering 40% of the world’s oceans, including in four high seas areas known as the Pacific Commons (1), and for these to be declared off limits to fishing.

The environmental group is also seeking a ban on the use of fish aggregating devices (FADs) in purse seine fisheries and a 50% reduction in the catch of big eye tuna.

These measures are important to keep valuable fish stocks at sustainable levels and will be reviewed at the upcoming meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission in Manila from 2-7 December.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Man Invents Machine To Convert Plastic Into Oil