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Canadian Atlantic village seeks help with seal invasion

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Canadian Atlantic village seeks help with seal invasion

Saturday, January 12, 2019

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OTTAWA, Canada (AFP) — A Canadian Atlantic coast town asked for help from the federal fisheries department on Wednesday to help get rid of some 40 stranded seals wreaking havoc, and blocking roads and doors to homes and businesses.

The animals became stuck in the town of Roddickton-Bide Arm, Newfoundland after nearby waters suddenly froze over nearly a week ago, preventing their return to the ocean.

Because it is illegal to interfere with marine mammals under Canadian law, it has led to some awkward face-offs with the unyielding seals. They also bite.

Two have been accidentally struck by cars at night, and several townsfolk have expressed concerns to local media that the chubby, big-eyed beasts may soon starve without access to food.

“We’re seeing them more lethargic, they’re not moving as fast,” Roddickton-Bide Arm mayor Sheila Fitzgerald told The Northern Pen newspaper. “It’s really disheartening for people to watch these animals suffer.”

The Roddickton-Bide Arm town council raised the issue at a regular municipal meeting Tuesday night, and resolved to ask the Department of Fisheries and Ocean to intervene.

“They’ve been saying let nature take its course, but it’s been almost a week,” Fitzgerald said. “If they could find their way out, they would have found their way already.”

The town on the northern tip of the Canadian island province, on a major seal migration route, is used to seeing seals. They typically travel south from the Canadian Arctic and the shores of Greenland to spend winters off the coast of Newfoundland.

According to marine biologists cited by Canadian media, the seals likely became disoriented after a rapid freezing of the nearby bay, and moved inland instead of toward open waters.

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Bolsonaro authorises army to help fight Amazon fires

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PORTO VELHO, Brazil (AFP) — President Jair Bolsonaro yesterday authorised the deployment of Brazil’s armed forces to help combat fires raging in the Amazon rainforest, as a growing global outcry over the blazes sparks protests and threatens a huge trade deal.

Plumes of thick smoke rose into the sky above dense forest in the northwestern state of Rondonia, where bright orange flames from various fires were visible for kilometres, an AFP photographer reported.

“It’s not normal and it’s like this because of the smoke from the fires,” said a hotel employee in the state capital Porto Velho, which was covered by a layer of smoke as fires burned near the city.

The fires in the world’s largest rainforest have sparked street protests around the planet and ignited a war of words between Bolsonaro and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, who has described the wildfires as an “international crisis” and vowed to block a trade agreement between the European Union and South American countries.

The latest official figures show 76,720 forest fires were recorded in Brazil so far this year — the highest number for any year since 2013 — which experts blame on accelerating deforestation as land is cleared during the months-long dry season to make way for crops or grazing.

More than half are in the Amazon.

Around 700 new fires were ignited between Wednesday and Thursday, according to the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), fuelling air contamination in cities including Sao Paulo, where thick smog turned day into night on Monday.

After a late-night crisis meeting with members of his Cabinet, Bolsonaro yesterday issued a decree permitting the deployment of armed forces to help extinguish fires and crack down on criminal activities in the region.

Bolsonaro’s decision came as demonstrations are held around the world over the fires in the Amazon forest, a region considered the “lungs of the planet” and seen as crucial to keeping climate change in check.

Protests were planned in Brazil’s major cities yesterday, as European leaders express growing concern over the destruction.

In an escalating public row over the blazes, Macron yesterday accused Bolsonaro of lying to him on Brazil’s stance on climate change.

France will now block a trade deal between the European Union and the South American trade bloc Mercosur, which includes Brazil, a French presidential official said.

Macron had tweeted Thursday that the fires burning in the Amazon amount to an international crisis and should be discussed as a top priority when the G7 countries meet this weekend in France.

Bolsonaro then blasted Macron for having a “colonialist mentality”.

Ireland also threatened to block the trade deal. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the fires as “heartbreaking” and offered to help put them out.

“The extent of the fires in the Amazon area is shocking and threatening and not only for Brazil and the other affected countries, but also for the whole world,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman said yesterday.

Environmental specialists say the fires have accompanied a rapid rate of deforestation in the Amazon region, which in July quadrupled compared to the same month in 2018, according to INPE data, which Bolsonaro previously described as lies and prompted the sacking of the agency’s head.

Bolsonaro instead attributes the blazes to increased drought, and accuses environmental groups and NGOs of whipping up an “environmental psychosis” to harm Brazil’s economic interests.

Earlier in the week, Bolsonaro accused NGOs of starting the fires.

Brazil’s powerful agriculture sector — a key supporter of Bolsonaro — has expressed concerns over the president’s rhetoric, fearing a boycott of their products in key markets.

Thomaz Favaro of Control Risks consultancy, told AFP Bolsonaro’s comments were “raising the risks of sanctions and retaliation, including against the EU-Mercosur deal”.

“Brazil has gone from being a global model of forest conservation to an international pariah,” Robert Muggah, research director at the Igarape Institute, a think tank in Rio de Janeiro, told AFP.

Bolsonaro had given “ammunition” to countries opposed to the EU-Mercosur deal, said Oliver Stuenkel, professor of international relations at Getulio Vargas Foundation.

The mayor of Manaus, Brazil’s largest city in the Amazon, told reporters yesterday the rainforest was “fundamental for the world”.

“The entire world demands sensible, intelligent, appropriate governance for the Amazon at the risk of regrettable consequences for our country,” Arthur Virgilio Neto said on the sidelines of a UN climate change workshop in the northeastern city of Salvador.

Neighbouring Paraguay and Bolivia are also battling separate wildfires that have devastated large areas of their rainforests.

The Bolivian Government yesterday took delivery of a “supertanker” aircraft to help extinguish fires that have destroyed around 7,770 square kilometres (3,000 square miles) of the eastern province of Santa Cruz for the past month.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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Ocho Rios Orchid Society gives back

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Ocho Rios Orchid Society gives back

Saturday, August 24, 2019

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The Ocho Rios Orchid Society is still basking in the success of its 27th Annual Orchid Show which it described as a delightful family event.

The show, held earlier this year, featured “breathtaking orchid displays complemented by dance items, fashion show and several booths showcasing a wide array of craft, clothing, jewellery and myriad plants”, the society said in a news release.

Known for making donations to various organisations from the proceeds of the show over the years, the society allocated funds from this year’s event to:

* Our Lady of Fatima Church Feeding Programme;

* Exchange All-Age School;

* Ocho Rios Baptist Church Feeding Programme;

* Mustard Seed Communities; and

* St Ann’s Bay Hospital.

President of the Orchid Society Andrea Davidson stated that she and her members were pleased to be able to make the contributions and “will continue to do so in the future”.

“Through these donations the members hope that they would have made a positive contribution not only to these organisations but to the people that each one serves,” the society said, and expressed thanks to the patrons who continue to support the show annually and whose patronage has helped to make the donations possible.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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NEPA briefs municipal corporations on proposed Cockpit Country Protected Area

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NEPA briefs municipal corporations on proposed Cockpit Country Protected Area

Saturday, August 24, 2019

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Fourteen representatives from municipal corporations in Trelawny, St Ann, St James, Manchester, Clarendon and St Elizabeth participated in a briefing on the proposed Cockpit Country Protected Area (CCPA) on Wednesday at the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) head office.

The meeting was convened to brief mayors, chief executive officers and other senior municipal representatives on the process adopted by the Government in declaring the proposed CCPA boundaries, explain the accompanying initiatives and actions for areas outside of the boundary, provide information and clarification on mandatory environmental impact assessment (and archaeological impact assessment) and the plans to develop and implement a management plan for the area.

Peter Knight, NEPA chief executive officer and government town planner who chaired the meeting, stated that “the Government, led by Prime Minister Holness, is to be credited with providing leadership and working diligently in partnership with the key environmental and planning agencies and departments and other stakeholders in collectively agreeing on a boundary referred to as the CCPA”.

The briefing included a presentation on the CCPA, highlighting its significance and raising awareness of the proposed CCPA as a no-mining zone as designated by the Cabinet.

Following the presentation, representatives from the municipal corporations sought clarification on issues regarding the CCPA, including the considerations in the definition of the proposed boundary and progress of the on-the-ground verification (“ground truthing”) process to outline the boundary.

“We are glad for this meeting so that we can relay these facts to our councillors. There is a lot of misinformation and the people have the right to be informed properly,” said Trelawny mayor, Councillor Colin Gager. “We do applaud the bold move by the prime minister to identify a boundary.”

Other mayors expressed similar sentiments, saying that the briefing was overdue and that they were now placed in a better position to assist with the dialogue on the CCPA.

Representatives from partner State entities, including the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Water Resources Authority, and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority were present at the briefing to respond to queries.

After extensive consultations and deliberations, the area designated as the proposed Cockpit Country Protected Area was announced in Parliament on November 21, 2017 by Prime Minister Holness.

The proposed CCPA spans six parishes — Trelawny, St Ann, St James, Manchester, Clarendon and St Elizabeth. The area comprises approximately 74,726 hectares and will be protected under law. This includes existing forest reserves, significant hydrological, ecological feature, and cultural and heritage sites. A management plan will be prepared in partnership with private landowners, local groups and other stakeholders.

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at http://bit.ly/epaperlive

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