I managed to fit in a couple of separate meetings on environment issues while I was in Canberra. Firstly, I met with visiting British Professor Norman Myers. He was featured on ABC radio last week, where he argues that “we are well into the opening phase of a mass extinction of species. There are about 10 million species on earth. If we carry on as we are, we could lose half of all those10 million species.” He also spoke of the Australia’s situation, where “he has designated a biodiversity hot spot in South Western Australia and another one is planned along the eastern strip of the country.”
A hotspot is an area that features exceptional concentrations of species that are found nowhere else in the world – we call them endemics – and number two, these are, though severely threatened, they contain the last remaining habitats of large numbers of species and they’ve also lost at least 70 or 80 per cent of their original vegetation already.
As preserving biodiversity is a core goal of National Parks and protected areas, his information should be useful to feed in to the Senate Inquiry I’m currently chairing.
Speaking of biodiversity at risk, I also met with a coalition of people seeking to halt deep sea bottom trawling. As traditional fishing areas get more depleted and technology more powerful, boats are now able to fish in very deep areas. According to the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, “today’s trawlers are capable of fishing deep-sea canyons and rough seafloor that was once avoided for fear of damaging nets. To capture one or two target commercial species, deep-sea bottom trawl fishing vessels drag huge nets armed with steel plates and heavy rollers across the seabed.”
Not surprisingly, this can cause a lot of damage to the ecosystem on the sea floor. There is the added problem that no one knows all the species there are in this areas. It is probable that there are a number of rare or endemic species in some of these locations, and the risk is being run of destroying something before we even know it’s there.
Attempts are being made to get a global moratorium agreed to. This report from the BBC details a fair bit of the process and science involved.
This site has some great photos of deep sea wildlife.
UPDATE: This article mentions some of Norman Myers address to the National Press club:
A LEADING British environmental scientist has urged the Australian Government to switch its focus from nuclear power and clean-coal technologies to renewable energies.
Professor Myers is renowned for identifying “hot spots” — homes to our most valuable animal and plant species — in grave need of protection. There are 34 hot spots and only five countries have more than one. Australia has two: one in southern Western Australia and the other taking in forests on the east coast