Posts Tagged ‘Giftmüll’

Malaysia/BRD: Für “saubere” Energie

Samstag, September 14th, 2013

“Seltene Erden – Fluch oder Segen für Malaysia?

Von Jade Lee

Am Sonntagnachmittag des 25. November 2012 hatten sich rund 20.000 Menschen auf dem Unabhängigkeitsplatz in Kuala Lumpur versammelt und missachteten die polizeiliche Warnung, dass diese Versammlung illegal sei. Die Menschenmenge saß friedlich im Regen vor der Polizeibarrikade und rief leidenschaftlich »Stop Lynas«. Viele Demonstrant/Innen trugen grüne T-Shirts, auf denen Umweltschutzslogans gedruckt waren. Sie hatten sich dort eingefunden, um die siebzig Läufer/Innen zu empfangen, die einen 13-tägigen Marsch über dreihundert Kilometer, der in Kuantan an der Ostküste der Malaiischen Halbinsel begann, in der Hauptstadt beendeten. Mit diesem Marsch drückten sie ihren Protest gegen die behördliche Bewilligung einer temporären Betriebslizenz für die weltweit größte Seltene Erden-Raffinerie aus. Bereits seit mehr als eineinhalb Jahren führen lokale Bewohner/Innen gemeinsam mit Aktivist/Innen eine Kampagne gegen die Seltene-Erden-Produktionsstätte des australischen Minenunternehmens Lynas Corporation (kurz Lynas) in der Nähe Kuantans. Lynas verschifft bereits Erzkonzentrat von seinem Bergbaugebiet am Mount Weld, das sich im Westen Australiens in der Nähe von Laverton befindet, zur finalen Produktionsphase in den rund 6.000 Kilometer entfernt gelegenen Hafen Kuantans zur dort ansässigen Raffinerie.

Das neue »grüne« Gold?

Für viele digitale und elektronische Bauteile bedarf es Oxide der Seltenen Erden. So sind sie auch in Hybrid- und Elektroautos, Windturbinen, Solarzellenpaletten, Energiesparlampen und Raketen enthalten. Im Juli 2011 hat der Technologiekonzern Siemens »eine Absichtserklärung zur Gründung eines Joint Ventures für die Produktion Seltener-Erden-Magneten unterzeichnet«. Laut Siemens »bedarf es für die Produktion von energieeffizienten Antriebsanwendungen und Windturbinengeneratoren diese Art von Magneten. Lynas wird für das Joint Venture Rohstoffe – vorwiegend Metalle, die Neodym enthalten – im Rahmen eines Langzeit-Liefervertrages bereitstellen«. Wenn dieses Joint Venture zustande kommt, wird Siemens mit 55 Prozent der Anteile der Mehrheitseigner sein. Lynas wird die restlichen 45 Prozent besitzen.1

Auch der deutsche Konzern BASF unterzeichnete trotz der Proteste im September 2011 einen Langzeitvertrag mit Lynas:

    »Gemäß den Vertragsbedingungen wird Lynas BASF mit einer festgelegten Jahresmenge Lanthan beliefern, welches der wesentliche Rohstoff bei der Produktion von BASFs Fluid Catalytic Cracking (FCC)-Raffineriekatalysatoren und bestimmter chemischer Katalysatorenerzeugnisse ist. Lynas wird diese Mengen durch das Lynas’ Rare Earth Separation Plant in Kuantan (Malaysia) bereitstellen, welches voraussichtlich im vierten Quartal 2011 mit 11.000 Metertonnen Gesamtjahresproduktionskapazität in Betrieb geht und im Jahr 2012 diese Menge auf 22.000 Metertonnen erhöhen wird. Zusätzliche Vertragseinzelheiten sind vertraulich.«

»Dieser Vertrag mit Lynas Corporation ist für unser Geschäft mit Chemie- und Raffineriekatalysatoren sowie für unsere Kunden ein bedeutender Schritt nach vorn«, sagt Dr. Hans-Peter Neumann, Senior-Vizepräsident von BASF Process Catalysts and Technologies. »Er ermöglicht es uns, unsere Lieferantenbasis für Seltene Erden weiter zu diversifizieren und zudem langfristig einen wesentlichen Teil des Lanthan-Bedarfs zu sichern.«2

 In Deutschland sind sowohl Siemens als auch BASF an hohe Umwelt- und Sozialstandards gebunden. Außerdem möchten diese globalen Großkonzerne gerne als ethisch korrekt handelnde und nachhaltige Unternehmen wahrgenommen werden. Hierzu konträr steht der starke lokale Protest gegen die Seltene Erden-Aufbereitung in Malaysia. Welche Konsequenzen ziehen die deutschen Unternehmen aus diesen Kontroversen?

Die versteckten Kosten der Extraktion Seltener Erden

Seltene Erden kommen relativ häufig auf der Welt vor. Erzkörper werden oft mit radioaktivem Thorium und Uranium gefunden. Die Verarbeitung Seltener Erden zu Oxiden ist allerdings mit hohen Gefahren verbunden, da hierbei hohe Mengen ätzender Säuren bei sehr hoher Temperatur zugegeben werden müssen, wodurch giftige Dämpfe, große Mengen Giftabfall und CO2 sowie andere Treibhausgase entstehen (…).”

Anmerkungen

1 Zu finden unter: < www.siemens.com/press/en/ pressrelease/?press=/en/pressrelease/2011/ industry/i20110742.htm>.

2 Weiterführende Informationen zu diesem Vertrag sind nachzulesen unter: < www.basf.com/group/corporate/ en/news-and-media-relations/news-releases/news- releases-usa/P-10-0076>.”

Weiterlesen …

 

(Quelle: Asienhaus.de)

Südkorea: Agent Orange-Skandal

Sonntag, Juli 10th, 2011

“Agent Orange in Korea

By Christine Ahn and Gwyn Kirk

Christine Ahn

In May, three former U.S. soldiers admitted to dumping hundreds of barrels of chemical substances, including Agent Orange, at Camp Carroll in South Korea in 1978. This explosive news was a harsh reminder to South Koreans of the high costs and lethal trail left behind by the ongoing U.S. military presence.

“We basically buried our garbage in their backyards,” U.S. veteran Steve House told a local news station in Phoenix, Arizona. A heavy equipment operator in the Army, House said he was ordered to dig a ditch the length of a city block to bury 55-gallon drums marked with bright yellow and orange labels: “Province of Vietnam, Compound Orange.” House said that the military buried 250 drums of defoliants stored on the base, which served then as the U.S. Army Material Support Center in Korea. Later they buried chemicals transported from other places on as many as 20 occasions, totaling up to 600 barrels.

“This stuff was just seeping through the barrels,” said Robert Travis, another veteran now living in West Virginia. “There was a smell, I couldn’t describe it, just sickly sweet.” Immediately after wheeling the barrels from a warehouse at Camp Carroll, Travis developed a severe rash; other health problems emerged later. He said there were “approximately 250 drums, all OD (olive drab) green… with a stripe around the barrel dated 1967 for the Republic of Vietnam.”

A third soldier, Richard Cramer of Illinois, said that his feet went numb as he buried barrels of Agent Orange at Camp Carroll. He spent two months in a military hospital and now has swollen ankles and toes, chronic arthritis, eye infections, and impaired hearing. “If we prove what they did was wrong,’ says Cramer, “they should ‘fess up and clean it up and take care of the people involved.”

The three veterans are now seriously ill. Steve House suffers from diabetes and neuropathy, two out of 15 diseases officially linked to Agent Orange. “This is a burden I’ve carried around for 35 years,” House, aged 54, told Associated Press reporters. “I just recently found out that I have to have some major surgery… If I’m going to check out, I want to do it with a clean slate.”

The Missing Barrels

A deadly herbicide, Agent Orange is widely known for its use during the Vietnam War when the U.S. military sprayed an estimated 10 million gallons on forests and rice fields. In Korea, the U.S. military used Agent Orange along the de-militarized zone to defoliate the forests and prevent North Koreans from crossing the border.

“The United States Army has acknowledged that pesticides, herbicides and other toxic compounds were buried at Camp Carroll,” writes New York Times reporter Mark MacDonald. Although the chemicals and about 60 tons of contaminated soil were purportedly dug up and removed, “the Army is still searching its records to discover what became of the excavated chemicals and soil.”

According to a February 25, 2011 report by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Far East Command, the U.S. military has discovered evidence of a burial site within Camp Carroll measuring 83 feet long, 46 feet wide, and 20 feet deep. It confirmed contamination on the base with high concentrations of highly carcinogenic perchloroethylene (PCE), pesticides, heavy metals, and components of dioxin. According to Hankyoreh, the report also cites testimony from a Korean employee, Gu Ja-yeong, who worked at Camp Carroll and participated in burying drums, cans, and bottles containing chemicals in 1974 and 1975. The report recommends monitoring once or twice a year and removing the soil from the burial site because ground-water chloroform levels were 24 times the South Korean standard for drinkable water. Chloroform is a carcinogen that can cause liver, kidney, and nervous system problems.

Two earlier environmental studies of Camp Carroll, commissioned by U.S. Forces in Korea (USFK), were not shared with the South Korean government until the recent whistle-blowing by the U.S. vets. In 1992, a Woodward-Clyde report confirmed the burial of toxic chemicals. “Many potential sources of soil and groundwater contamination still exist at the base and the presence of contaminated groundwater has been documented,” the report stated. “From 1979 to 1980, approximately 6,100 cubic feet (40 to 60 tons) of soil were reportedly excavated from this area and disposed offsite.”

Samsung C&T reported on a second survey in 2004. This also found soil samples from the base contained pesticides and dioxins: “Hazardous materials and waste, including solvents, petroleum oils and lubricants, pesticides, herbicides and other industrial chemicals have been used and stored onsite for over 40 years.” The Korea Herald reported, “more than 100 kinds of harmful chemicals including pesticides and herbicides were buried.” Hankyoreh reported that the Samsung survey found “quantities of highly carcinogenic trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE) at 31 and 33 times the standard levels of potable water, respectively.” The 2004 report estimated that it would cost $98.3 million to remove all the contaminated soil from Camp Carroll. Both the 1992 and 2004 reports state that a significant amount of soil had been excavated, but they differ as to when this actually happened. According to the Korea Times, the 2004 report concluded, “The fate of the excavated drums is unknown”.

So what happened to the buried chemicals?

Camp Carroll is located in Waegwan, about 20 miles north of Daegu. “If Agent Orange was dumped in 1978, the drums may have already eroded. And the toxic substance could have contaminated the soil and underground water near the area,” said Chung In-cheol of Green Korea United. “The U.S. camp is situated just 630 meters away from the Nakdong River,” says Chung, “which is the water source for major cities like Daegu and Busan.”

Cancer rates in the Chilgok area near Camp Carroll were up to 18.3 percent higher than the national average between 2005 and 2009, according to Statistics Korea’s website, and mortality rates for nervous system diseases were above the national average.

Soil and Water Contamination

Environmental contamination on U.S. bases in South Korea has been a source of contention between Washington and Seoul. Since 2001, South Korea has spent $3.4 million to clean up 2,000 tons of oil-contaminated ground water near Yongsan Army Garrison and Camp Kim. The South Korean military is now conducting environmental tests at 85 former U.S. bases that were returned to South Korean control between 1990 and 2003.

With the latest revelations, the South Korean public is calling for a full-scale assessment of the environmental damage of all U.S. military facilities in Korea. Under the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the two nations, the United States has no responsibility to clean up the land it uses for bases. Some advocates are seeking a revision of the SOFA to hold Washington responsible for the contamination it causes.

After House spoke out, the USFK and the South Korean government assured the public that they would research his claims, though they disagreed about the method of investigation. The USFK preferred to use ground-penetrating radar (GPR) while the South Korean government insisted on sampling the soil and underground water. According to Hankyoreh, GPR can test for foreign matter such as canisters containing harmful materials, but it cannot verify soil or water contamination. “The South Korean government has repeatedly stated that this kind of investigation is incapable of resolving the questions harbored by the population,” said a Ministry of the Environment official.

The joint ROK-U.S. team is using ground-penetrating radar and electrical resistivity devices at 41 sites since the news broke in late May. According to a team official, the USFK is not just worried about dioxin, but other toxic and carcinogenic materials, which soil and water tests can detect. Indeed, investigation of an underground stream and groundwater near Camp Carroll has shown traces of PCE, a known carcinogen that attacks the nervous system and can cause reproduction problems. The Chilgok regional government sealed the well upon learning from the joint Korea-U.S. team that the amount of PCE exceeded the level for acceptable drinking water.

Lessons from Vietnam

Agent Orange contains the deadly chemical dioxin, a byproduct of industrial processes involving chlorine or bromine. Decades after its use in Vietnam, there is still great controversy about its effects on human and environmental health, despite the fact grandchildren of Vietnamese soldiers and civilians have been born with abnormalities attributable to their ancestors’ exposure.

In 1995, Arnold Schecter and Le Cao Dai of the Vietnam Red Cross published research findings showing “that high levels of dioxin contamination persist in the blood, tissue, and breast milk of Vietnamese living in sprayed areas.” Schecter tested soil and human tissue samples from people living near the former Bien Hoa U.S. military base where 7,500 gallons of Agent Orange were spilled in 1970.

In 1998, Hatfield Consultants published the results of a four-year study of soil and water samples in the A Luoi valley near the Ho Chi Minh trail and the site of three former U.S. Special Forces bases where Agent Orange was stored and sprayed. Working with Vietnamese scientists, Hatfield found “a consistent pattern of food chain contamination by Agent Orange dioxin… which included soil, fishpond sediment, cultured fish, ducks and humans.” They found dioxin levels in some breast milk samples to be dozens of times higher than maximum levels recommended by the World Health Organization.

Although Vietnamese officials and scientists believe that many thousands of people are victims of Agent Orange, “remarkably little has been proved with scientific certainty,” Robert Dreyfuss wrote in 2000. The Institute of Medicine reports “strong evidence that exposures to herbicides is associated with five serious diseases, including Hodgkin’s disease and a form of leukemia… and ‘suggestive’ evidence that herbicides might cause birth defects and cancer.” A major factor limiting serious research into dioxin contamination is the high costs. According to Dreyfuss, it cost $600 to $1000 to test one single soil or tissue sample for tiny traces of Agent Orange dioxin.

Since 1981, U.S. veterans of the Vietnam War who were exposed to dioxin have been entitled to register with the Veteran Administration’s Agent Orange Registry. Of the nearly 3 million U.S. soldiers who served in Vietnam, approximately 300,000 veterans are on the list and entitled to free annual health exams. In a 2003 article in the San Francisco Chronicle, David Perlman wrote that more than 22,000 vets have successfully claimed disability and are entitled to “free long-term treatment for a variety of disorders that are ‘presumptively’ caused by exposure to dioxin.” Compensation has ranged from $104 to $2,193 a month.

U.S. veterans have attempted to sue the manufacturers of Agent Orange for compensation. In 1984, seven U.S. chemical companies agreed to settle a suit brought by U.S. veterans in 1979. In making this settlement, the companies refused to accept liability, claiming that the scientific evidence did not prove Agent Orange was responsible for the medical conditions alleged. By 1997, 291,000 U.S. veterans had received a total of $180 million dollars over a period of 12 years. “My brother was given $362, and me, I was given $60,” recalls U.S. veteran George Johnson. “My brother has never been able to have kids.”

South Korean veterans who served in the Vietnam War also attempted to sue Agent Orange manufacturers. In 2006, the Korea Times reported that the “Seoul High Court ruled that Dow Chemical and Monsanto should pay $63 billion won ($62 million) to a group of 6,700 Korean veterans… who first filed lawsuits against the company in 1999.” However, this ruling is largely symbolic since the Korean authorities cannot force the companies to comply.

Why Act Now?

When asked why he came forward now, Steve House said, “I’ve wanted the government to take care of this nightmare I’ve had to live with for the last 30 years. I don’t want to poison kids or anything, and I don’t want to hurt GIs.”

For House and other vets, also at issue is the question of medical compensation. According to the U.S. Veterans Affairs website, “Veterans who served … in or near the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) anytime between April 1, 1968 and August 31, 1971 and who have a disease VA recognizes as associated with Agent Orange exposure are presumed to have been exposed to herbicides. These Veterans do not have to show they were exposed to Agent Orange to get disability compensation for these diseases.” Veterans like House, however, who were exposed to Agent Orange after this time period, or in other parts of Korea outside of the DMZ, are not considered eligible for disability compensation.

Although more information is likely to emerge from the joint U.S.-R.O.K. investigation in the coming weeks, both the U.S. and Korean public must ask and demand answers to many urgent questions. What happened to the barrels of Agent Orange and contaminated soil at Camp Carroll? How much dioxin and other contaminants have leached into the soils surrounding Camp Carroll and other U.S. military bases? Will the U.S. government provide medical assistance and financial compensation to the veterans who handled a substance that was known to be toxic in 1978? Who will compensate the Korean people who may have been exposed to these contaminants – that the U.S. military knew of as far back as 1992, but never told the So.uth Korean government

Based on the experience of thousands of U.S. vets and civilians who live around U.S. bases — in this country and overseas — even routine military operations can have serious long-term costs to human health and the environment. Without adequately addressing its toxic legacy in South Korea, the U.S. military continues to take fertile land to expand and create new bases, as it did in seizing rice paddies from farmers in Pyongtaek. The ROK-U.S. naval base now under construction on Jeju Island will have a devastating impact on the island’s marine ecology, affecting fishermen and women sea divers who depend on the clean sea for their livelihood, and the Korean people who rely on the ocean for seafood. The blind rhetoric of national security must no longer trump human security, certainly not when the U.S. military isn’t even willing to provide adequate medical care to its own veterans and protection to the Korean people they are purportedly in Korea to defend. “

Christine Ahn is the executive director of the Korea Policy Institute and a columnist for Foreign Policy In Focus, and Gwyn Kirk is a member of Women for Genuine Security and a contributor to FPIF.

 

(Quelle: Foreign Policy in Focus.)

Global: Klimawandel in der Südsee – schon heute eine Frage von Leben und Tod

Montag, Juli 19th, 2010

“CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE PACIFIC – A MATTER OF SURVIVAL

By Sonia Smallacombe


Kiribati (Photo taken by Roisterer/Wikipedia).

Indigenous peoples in the Pacific region are among the first to face the direct adverse consequences of climate change, due to their dependence upon and close relationship with the environment and its resources. While they are amongst the lowest emitters of greenhouse gases, they are also amongst the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to their small size, coastal populations, high dependence on natural resources and the low-lying nature of their lands. As a result, indigenous peoples in many Pacific Island countries feel particularly helpless. Further, they realize that there are climate change threats that cannot be reduced, mitigated or eliminated and they are therefore forced to accept that adaptation is the only responsive option available to them.

Impacts of climate change

On average, more than 90% of the population of the Pacific region are indigenous. This includes Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Samoa, Tuvalu, Rapa Nuie (Easter Island), Papua New Guinea etc. Most of the Pacific region comprises small island states and indigenous peoples are heavily impacted by climate-induced warming: their islands are inundated by rising sea levels, increasing erosion occurs from intense storms, and saltwater intrudes into freshwater supplies. These changes are affecting livelihood activities such as hunting and fishing, and impacting on island infrastructure, access to water resources, food and housing availability, and even the very health of indigenous peoples. There is also concern that climate change will result in revenue loss across important economic sectors such as agriculture, forestry, tourism, energy and other industry-related sectors.

Rising sea levels

Many Pacific Islands have low land masses and, as a result of the rise in sea levels, are experiencing damage to buildings and infrastructure. Crops and causeways linking villages are being flooded, forcing cars, buses and trucks to drive through seawater. This has been particularly noticeable in Kiribati and a number of other small Pacific Island nations, which could completely disappear beneath the waves at some point this century. The small island of Tebua in Tarawa used to be a landmark for fishermen but today it is knee-deep under water. Kiribati suffers the effects of king tides that wash through the islands from one side to the other with great ease. It is now a common factor in Kiribati to have king tides with waves 2.8 metres in height.[1]
High tides and stormy seas have also recently caused problems in the Marshall Islands, Cook Island, Tuvalu and low-lying islands of Papua New Guinea. In Tuvalu, fresh groundwater mixes with salty seawater, forcing some farmers to grow their root crops in tin containers. These damaging effects of climate change are likely to intensify if sea levels rise as predicted.

Damage to Pacific ecosystems

In the Pacific region, environmental changes are prominent on islands where volcanoes build and erode; coral atolls submerge and reappear and the islands’ biodiversity is in flux. The region has suffered extensively from human-made disasters and hazards resulting from nuclear testing, pollution including shipping-related pollution, hazardous chemicals and hazardous wastes (Persistent Organic Pollutants or POPs), and solid waste management and disposals. These issues, as well as the threats of climate change, have severely affected the ability of island ecosystems to maintain a healthy and pristine environment for the economic, social and cultural viability of indigenous communities.[2]
   Warmer temperatures have led to the bleaching of the Pacific Islands’ main source of survival – the coral reefs. Bleaching occurs when reef-building corals, reacting to stress such as warmer waters, loosen the algae that help feed them. Because the algae give them colour, the starved corals look pale, hence the term “bleaching”. Continued bleaching ultimately kills corals. Reef-building corals provide most of the primary productivity of coral reefs and are also an important shelter for a diversity of marine organisms. Reduced abundance and diversity of reef-building corals is thus very likely to have a major influence on the surrounding biodiversity. Coral reefs are home to much of the seafood that is enjoyed by indigenous peoples in the region.[3]

Food and water security

Agriculture in the Pacific region, especially in small island states, is becoming increasingly vulnerable due to heat stress on plants and salt water incursions. Crops with low tolerance to climate hazards such as bananas, one of the main staple crops, are severely threatened. Soil erosion from destructive wave activity, frequent storm surges and landslides causes land loss to many indigenous communities. Plantations and livestock are the major sources of subsistence farming, and are now faced with serious threats from new diseases and pests linked to flooding, drought and other climatic variations. Threats to food security are thus of great concern to the region.
   A significant impact of climate change and climate variability on indigenous peoples in the Pacific region is unreliable water availability. In many places, there is often a lack of water storage systems such as water tanks. If improvements were made to water supplies and accessibility systems, indigenous peoples would not have to rely on unpredictable and untreated river sources. Hence, sustainable water sources, maintaining and improving water quality and minimizing the spread of water-borne diseases is an important issue for indigenous peoples in the Pacific.

Drought

Some 2,000 miles to the west of the Pacific is Australia, which is experiencing the worst drought in 100 years, even with the flooding that occurred in late 2007 and early 2008. Scientists are not certain that climate change is to blame but it is the most popular theory. One concern is that when there is rain in the northeast coastal regions, soil washes into the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef. This process is damaging the coral, and warmer waters are also killing parts of the reef.

Carbon emissions trading

In the Pacific, like in most other regions, indigenous peoples are not only affected by climate change but also by the initiatives developed to address it. Carbon emissions trading is an area of concern for many indigenous peoples. At the same time, however, some indigenous peoples see the potential economic benefits of taking part in carbon trading projects, especially when indigenous communities have already developed, over thousands of years, sustainable, neutral and carbon negative livelihoods. A unique agreement, which claims to be the first of its kind in the world, was recently negotiated in Australia. In June 2007,
when a giant new natural gas refinery was constructed in Darwin, ConocoPhillips agreed to pay the Aboriginal people of the Western Arnhem Land region of Australia AUD 1 million (USD 850,000) per year, for 17 years, to offset 100,000 tons of the refinery’s own greenhouse emissions (The Western Arnhem Fire Management Agreement). The Aboriginal people concerned will use traditional fire management practices, which have been scientifically shown to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as compared to naturally occurring wildfires.[4]
   Carbon trading continues to be a hugely contentious issue, however, mainly due to its inherent problems. The main concern is that, while companies do not have to actually reduce their emissions, they can pay other companies and groups, mostly from nonindustrialized countries, to reduce emissions or to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, and thus account for these as their own reductions. The big benefit to companies is that, when paying others, they pay only a fraction of what they would need to invest at home to achieve the same goal.[5]

Adapting to climate change through migration

As people begin to feel the heavy impact of climate change on the quality of life in the Pacific, migration will become a major issue, particularly as a result of flooding from the rising sea level. Forced adaptation is already underway, with some communities being displaced from their traditional lands and territories due to coastal and land erosion caused by large stormdriven waves. Dislocation is already a reality in Samoa and Vanuatu, where flooding from extreme weather and rising sea levels have become the norm and thus have serious implications for people residing in the region. People living in Papua New Guinea’s Bougainville atoll island of Cartaret have asked to be moved to higher ground on the mainland. The people of Sikaiana Atoll in the Solomon Islands have also been migrating away from their atoll, primarily to Honiara, the capital. Similarly, there has been internal migration from the outer islands of Tuvalu to the capital, Funafuti. In the case of Tuvalu, this migration has brought almost half of the national population to Funafuti atoll, with the inherent negative environmental consequences, including an intensified demand for local resources.[6] New Zealand has agreed to take 75 Tuvaluans per year, in a slow evacuation process of the island.
   Migration as a solution is, however, highly problematic. It is a violation of the right of countries to exist as peoples, a threat to cultures and tradition, causes loss of lives, loss of biodiversity, loss of spiritual connectivity and loss of settlement.[7] It is therefore crucial that the issue of “environmental refugees” is seriously discussed and that indigenous peoples become genuinely involved in designing and implementing responses to climate change.

Adapting by applying traditional knowledge

Traditional knowledge and practices are important to sustaining and managing the environment. In a coastal village on Vanua Levu, Fiji, the philosophy of vanua (which refers to the connection of people with the land through their ancestors and guardian spirits) has served as a guiding principle for the management and sustainable use of the rainforest, mangrove forest, coral reefs and village gardens.
   In other parts of the Pacific, indigenous peoples have supported mangrove conservation along the coastline to protect against natural disasters such as cyclones and tsunamis. It is seen as a cheaper undertaking than seawalls, which are funded from external sources. Mangrove conservation involves the community in the management process as well as the inclusion of women in the replanting activities. Other activities include the provision of a water drainage system as well as banning tree clearing. However, it is recognized in the Pacific that enhancing adaptive capacity involves more than local options, which will only be successful if they are integrated with other strategies such as disaster preparation, land-use planning, environmental conservation and national plans for sustainable development.[8]
   Grants from United Nations agencies, such as the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), promote the development and dissemination of appropriate crops and technologies in the Pacific region. The merging of indigenous and atoll technologies through action research and documentation is designed to support agriculture and fisheries. A similar activity, managed by the Solomon Island Development Trust, is due to take place through a small grant from IFAD’s Indigenous Peoples’ Assistance Facility (IPAF). Indigenous populations will be assisted to improve post-crisis resilience by merging traditional with scientific knowledge.
   Institutional barriers that prevent adaptation exist in the Pacific region. For example, adaptive capacity and resilience in the Pacific is hampered by limited resources and lack of access to technology. On the other hand, the application of traditional knowledge and past experiences has been strengthened in various ways, such as the implementation of traditional marine social institutions, as exemplified in the Ra’ui in Rarotonga, Cook Islands. This is an effective conservation management tool aimed at improving coral reef health. Indigenous peoples’ ecological knowledge and customary sea tenure is also integrated with marine and social science to conserve some of the wildlife, such as the bumphead parrotfish in Roviana Lagoon, Solomon Islands. Changes in sea tenure, back to more traditional roles, have also taken place in Kiribati.[9]

What needs to be done

While there is scientific consensus, notably through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), with regard to the threats that climate change poses, governments have been slow to respond. The vulnerability of the whole Pacific region to disasters poses a real threat to achieving economic stability, social development, environment conservation and cultural diversity. In September 2007, Mr. Elisara-La’ulu, Director of Ole Siosimaga Society (OLSSI) in Samoa, said that bystanders who knew that the world was in crisis but did nothing were just as bad as the architects of the crisis. He urged government leaders to ask indigenous peoples about the effects of climate change before taking any decisions, and that indigenous peoples should not act when under pressure from global processes driven by big governments.[10] During a meeting in April 2008, Mr. Elisara noted that:

For us Pacific peoples, the discussion on climate change is not just a theoretical issue that we talk about when we come to these global meetings! It is there and we see the effects in our daily lives. For us it is a matter of life and death! In many cases we have to decide whether to stay on our islands or leave our homes. As sovereign countries, our rights as countries are protected under the Charter of the United Nations. We plead accountability against those causing these violations of our rights to exist as peoples, as countries, and as sovereign nations. Someone must bear responsibility for our demise when we lose our cultures, when our traditional ways of lives are trashed, and we are denied our freedom to exist as peoples. This is an issue of climate justice that we are calling for here and will continue to do so in every opportunity that comes our way![11]

There are two important issues that some of the small island states, such as Samoa, are highlighting. The first issue is the importance of allowing communities themselves to prioritize and pursue their adaptation needs. Community representatives need to work with policymakers to identify solutions that take account of cultural values in order to protect the livelihood and well-being of indigenous peoples. The second issue is the urgent need to put early warning systems in place to ensure that indigenous communities have the information they need to respond to each hazard and potential threat. This in turn will go some considerable way towards implementing sustainable community activities to adapt to, and minimize, the adverse impacts of climate change.
   At the Pacific Regional Civil Society Organization Forum held in Tonga in October 2007, the following recommendations were made:

• That regional contingency plans be developed to accommodate environmental refugees in a manner that maintains their national identity and indigenous cultural integrity;
• Engage indigenous peoples’ organizations in the development of programmes that involve measures to deal with the effects of climate change;
• Promote forest conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy; and
• Involve indigenous peoples in programs that support community-level mitigation and aptation measures and, at the same time, recognize the value of the traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples, which has enabled them to maintain and interact with their environment in a sustainable way.[12]

 

Notes

[1] Fiu Mataese Elisara. Effects of Climate Change on Indigenous Peoples. A Pacific presentation during the International Expert Group Meeting on Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change, Darwin, Australia April 2-4, 2008.
[2] Ema G. Tagicakibau. Pollution in Paradise: The Impact of Nuclear Testing and Radio-Active Pollution on Indigenous Peoples in the Pacific and Strategies for Resolution. Pacific Concerns Resource Centre, August 2007.
[3] Robert W. Buddemeier, Joan A. Kleypas, Richard B. Aronson. Coral Reefs and Global Climate Change: Potential Contributions of Climate Change to Stresses on Coral Reef Ecosystems. Pew Centre, January 2004, page 25.
[4] Victo Mugarura. Aborigines burn the way to climate control. BBC, September 18, 2007 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6726059.stm
[5] D. Wysham. A Carbon Rush at the World Bank. Foreign Policy in Focus, February 2005. See www.fpif.org
[6] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Working Group 2: Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, 2007, page 708.
[7] Fiu Mataese Elisara. Effects of Climate Change on Indigenous Peoples. A Pacific presentation during the International Expert Group Meeting on Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change, Darwin, Australia April 2-4, 2008.
[8] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Report of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Working Group 2: Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, 2007, page 709.
[9] Ibid, page 708.
[10] Meetings Coverage, DPI/NGO Annual Conference, NGO/626, PI/1794, Department of Public Information, UN, New York, 6 September 2007.
[11] Fiu Mataese Elisara. Effects of Climate Change on Indigenous Peoples. A Pacific presentation during the International Expert Group Meeting on Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change, Darwin, Australia April 2-4, 2008.
[12] Communiqué of the Pacific Regional Civil Society Organization Forum held in Tonga in October 2007, pages 4-5.

 

Sonia Smallacombe is a member of the Maramanindji people in the Daly River region of the Northern Territory in Australia. She is currently working in the United Nations Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) and is the focal person on climate change.
   The views expressed in this paper do not necessarily represent those of the United Nations or the Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.”

 

(Quelle: Indigenious Affairs.)

 

Hinweis:

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Guam: US-Kolonie fordert die Unabhängigkeit – UN soll bei Dekolonisierung helfen

Donnerstag, Juni 24th, 2010

Mental Health Ramifications of Colonialism in Guam Examined

Statement by
Hope A. Cristobal, Psy.D.
before the
United Nations Special Committee on Decolonisation
June 22, 2010

INTRODUCTION

Hafa adei! Your Excellency Mr. Chairman and Members of the Special Committee on Decolonization, seminar delegations, UN staff and seminar attendees. Dangkolu na si Yu’os ma’ase’ for this opportunity to speak before the Special Committee. I am Dr. Hope Antoinette Cristobal. I am a Chamorro and a professional psychologist. Our delegation, here today, represents the second generation of Chamorros who have sought the assistance of the United Nations for over two decades to decolonize our home island and to protect our people’s right of self-determination.

We congratulate the UN for convening the Pacific seminar on decolonization in New Caledonia last month. We especially thank the Special Committee for its past work in decolonizing almost 100 non self-governing territories. It is our fervent hope to share in this same experience in the 21st century – a reality that is wrought with challenges and obstacles primarily due to Guam’s military strategic importance to the U.S. administering power.

CURRENT PUBLIC HEALTH STATE OF AFFAIRS

It is well documented in the literature that colonized and marginalized communities suffer from a range of mental health issues resulting from their socio-political and socio-cultural oppression. Your Excellency, if the mental health and physical health of a people are direct indications of the health of a nation, I am here to testify that the indigenous people of Guam continue to suffer social, cultural, and environmental annihilation at the hands of our American oppressors.

As U.S. citizens in Guam, my Chamorro people are dying and suffering at disproportionate rates as compared to our U.S. counterparts. Our senior citizen rate is at a mere 5% in comparison to the U.S. standard of 12%. Your Excellency, the health concerns in Guam are not unlike those you are aware of with the Kanaky people of New Caledonia, where there is an over representation in problems related to depression, anxiety, alcohol, drug use, and violence, especially among the poorest male youths when compared to the larger French population. Most importantly, researchers note that these problems did not exist before their colonization (Goodfellow, Calandreau, Roelandt, 2010).

In Guam, Chamorros suffer from these same maladies (Rapadas, 2001; Untalan, 1991). It was found that young Chamorros, when compared to the general population, experienced the highest rates of alcohol and drug abuse; reported more gang involvement; committed more crimes overall; and made up the majority of criminal recidivists (Rapadas, 2001). We have some of the highest rates of suicide in the world (Booth, 1999; Rubinstein, 2002) with 15 completed suicides for every 100,000 people in Guam. In addition, when considering suicide, 50% of Chamorro and Filipino youths in Guam were more likely to seek help outside their family or with nobody at all (Rubinstein, 1983; Schwab, 1998). Robust research suggests that these aggregate problems in our communities are a result of the cultural and social deterioration of our families and neighborhoods; the same families and neighborhoods that had previously sustained our health for generations prior to colonization (Hezel, 1987; Rubinstein, 1983; Schwab, 1998).

The hyper militarization plans for Guam will exacerbate these problems, above and beyond what is already considered to be of serious global concern. As the administering power of Guam for over six decades, the United States must bear responsibility for our tragic invisibility resulting in inadequate public health resources to assess or respond to our particular needs as a colonized, marginalized island society.

THE HYPER MILITARIZATION OF GUAM vis-à-vis UN CONVENTIONS & TREATIES

In 2005, our people were notified through the media that some 7,000 Marines were being transferred to Guam from Okinawa Island. The U.S. DOD (Department of Defense) refused any further information citing their plans as tentative until the release of their Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) last November (2009). We knew nothing of what or how to prepare for this hyper militarization. The U.S. administering power had five years and over 85 million dollars to prepare their 11,000 page document detailing the destruction of our human and physical environment and thus our demise as a people of the land. Successively, our small resource-poor non self-governing island people were given exactly 90-days to respond. Today, six months after release of the military’s DEIS, the local government is struggling simply to get U.S. commitment of funds for anticipated impacts to our water, power, and sewer infrastructure and seaport facilities contained in the plans.

Your Excellency, it behooves the Special Committee to study this singular document that the U.S. plans for its irreversible destruction to Guam’s human and physical environment and its direct violation of numerous international human rights instruments including your UN Resolution 64/104 A and B; the UN Charter; the 1966 Human Rights Covenants (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights); the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples; the Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in Accordance with the UN Charter [Resolution 2625 (XXV)]; and the recent Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Clearly, subjection of non self-governing territories to injustice, domination, and exploitation especially by the administering power’s military, constitutes a denial of our people’s fundamental human rights and is an affront to world peace and cooperation.

While the administering power is mandated to promote, strengthen, and diversify an independent economy as well as to promote the social development of the people of the territories, its already initiated militarization plans will further bind and embed Guam’s economic dependence on its administering power. Furthermore, the already initiated transfer of close to 80,000 new residents within the next four years directly threatens, rather than promotes, the social and cultural development of our people.

The UN mandates that all necessary measures be taken to protect and conserve the environment against degradation and requests specialized agencies to continue to monitor and assist with environmental concerns. Meanwhile, the U.S. is making plans to dredge 287,327 square meters of coral reef in Apra Harbor, Guam’s only natural deep harbor. Apra Harbor already has high traces of arsenic, lead, copper, mercury, tin, and PCBs (Szyfres, 2007) and disturbance of these chemicals will have devastating effects on our human environment.

While UN mandates clearly state that the U.S. is to continue to transfer land to the original landowners, in addition to transferring surplus Federal lands back to the Government of Guam, the U.S. military claims it needs 40% more land, private and public – this, in addition to the one-third of our island they already hold. Traditional lands that comprise a recently deemed National Historic Preservation site, the ancient village of Pagat, and sacred areas near Mount LamLam are scheduled for land takings through coercive procedures or outright purchase.

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Despite the U.S. EPA’s (Environmental Protection Agency) lowest rating of the military DEIS and its basic rejection of DOD’s militarization plans, there is no indication for change. By the same token, there have been no indication nor plans that the U.S. will adhere to its responsibilities under the above stated UN resolutions, conventions, and treaties. However, without the Special Committee’s effective say and action on the key issue of Guam’s hyper militarization, Guam will remain a colony and the Chamorro people will continue to suffer irreparable harm as a consequence of our colonial status.

We offer the following recommendations:

That the Special Committee unequivocally declare that the militarization of Guam now underway constitutes a major impediment to the implementation of the UN Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.


• That the Special Committee unequivocally declare and reaffirm that as a non self-governing territory, Guam has, under the UN Charter, a status separate and distinct from the territory of the administering power and such separate and distinct status under the UN Charter shall exist until the Chamorro people of Guam have exercised their right of self-determination.


• That the Special Committee reaffirm that the Chamorro people of Guam have the right freely to determine, without external interference their political status and to pursue their economic, social, and cultural development, and that the U.S. administering power has the duty to respect this right in accordance with the provisions of the UN Charter.


• That the Special Committee take affirmative formal steps to interface with


the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in reference to the


decolonization process for Guam (seeing as the UN Economic and Social


Council formally recommended that a seminar be held to specifically examine


the plight of the indigenous peoples of the remaining non-self-governing


territories.)


• That the Special Committee take affirmative formal steps to request a UN


visiting mission to Guam as soon as possible in view of the active U.S.


hyper militarization now underway.

Si Yu’os ma’ase’ and thank you. I will be happy to respond to questions or comments that you may have.”

 

(Quelle: Overseas Territories Review.)

Mexiko: Proteste gegen Giftmüll-Recycling

Dienstag, Juni 22nd, 2010

“They’re Killing Us Anyway”

By Emilio Godoy

APAXCO, Mexico – “Fuera Ecoltec!” (Get out Ecoltec!) protesters chanted in a demonstration Sunday in the Mexican town of Apaxco, one year after the start of a community blockade of a toxic waste processing plant run by a Swiss company.

From the highway visitors see the grey bulk of the factories against the sky. A banner reading Fuera Ecoltec! greets visitors to this industrial town 85 km north of Mexico City.

Citing health complaints they link to alleged pollution by Ecoltec, a subsidiary of Swiss cement maker Holcim, the people of Apaxco and neighbouring communities are trying to permanently close down the plant.

The protesters have already done so at least temporarily since May 6, 2009, when they set up a kind of camp on the street that leads to the plant’s entrance.

“We will not allow Ecoltec to continue operating here,” Gil said. “What can happen to us? They’re killing us anyway.”

According to the preliminary results of a health survey carried out in October by the non-governmental Centro de Diagnóstico y Alternativas para Afectados por Tóxicos (CEDAAT – Centre for Diagnosis and Alternatives for Those Affected by Toxic Substances), the health problems found among the local population include headaches, a persistent cough, sore throat and irritated eyes.

Of a sample of 305 patients, 262 — 86 percent — had symptoms of acute intoxication, while only 43 had no symptoms.

CEDAAT also tested 35 primary school students with an average age of nine. All of them showed memory problems, which were severe in 60 percent of the children, while 46 percent had attention deficit difficulties.

“We are facing a complex problem,” Arturo de León, a medical school professor at the Autonomous National University of Mexico who led the CEDAAT study, told IPS. “The local people are right, their complaints are well-founded: there are health damages here.”

Two serious incidents brought their outrage to a boil, giving rise to the creation of the Movimiento Ambientalista Pro-Salud (Pro-Health Environmentalist Movement), made up of concerned residents of Apaxco and the neighbouring municipality of Atotonilco.

The first incident occurred on Mar. 21, 2009, when 11 local men died while cleaning out a wastewater pumping station of the local water company.

According to the townspeople, they died of inhalation of toxic substances in the sewage system. But the official cause of death was listed as drowning.

Then on May 5, 2010, there was a leak of ethyl acrylate, a potentially deadly chemical that affects the nervous system, at the Ecoltec plant. The stench of the fumes spread to 11 surrounding communities that are home to a total of 30,000 people in an area of four square kilometres, where people complained of severe headaches, coughing fits, red, itchy eyes and a sore throat.

“I’ve had a sore throat and red eyes,” Inés Martínez, who could smell the fumes in her home, told IPS.

The Ecoltec plant began to operate in Apaxco in 2003, processing waste products like electric and mobile phone batteries, old tires and toxic waste to produce fuel used by local cement companies in their furnaces.

Contacted by IPS, the company, which was founded in 1993, denied that its activities caused any harm to the health of local residents, and offered, once the blockade is lifted, “to establish a committee to listen to and address all of the community’s concerns, doubts and proposals.”

Apaxco is located in an industrial belt where 115 factories operate, including a refinery of the state-run oil giant Pemex, which is building a crude oil processor that is set to begin to function in 2015, and cement plants belonging to Holcim, the Mexican companies Cemex and Cruz Azul, and France’s Lafarge, as well as four lime processors that provide local factories with raw materials.

In recent years, the cement companies have begun to burn old tires to obtain fuel as a substitute for natural gas and fuel oil, in a process known as co-processing, which involves the use of waste as raw materials or as a source of energy. Pemex has begun to produce less and less fuel oil because it is highly polluting.

In the United States, environmental authorities prohibited Cemex from engaging in co-processing — a practice that has given rise to protests and opposition in countries around the world, like Brazil, El Salvador, the Philippines and South Africa.

Antonio Gil, a local resident who worked for 25 years in Holcim, until 1995, watched his seven-year-old son die of leukemia in just one month after he was diagnosed in 2007.

“Now I realise it happened because of the pollution,” he told IPS in a shaky voice.

Gil agreed for his son to participate in a research study by the Mexican Social Security Institute, titled “Molecular Epidemiology of Acute Leukemia in Children”, on possible links between the environment and that disease.

The study was to include a home visit. Three years later, Gil is still waiting.

“Co-processing has a green veneer; they present it as a good thing for the environment,” said Fernando Bejarano, head of the non-governmental Centro de Análisis y Acción sobre Tóxicos y Sus Alternativas (CAATA – Centre for Research and Action on Toxic Substances and Their Alternatives).

“But that is deceptive. It is dangerous to mix these waste products,” he commented to IPS.

CAATA is pressing for Mexico’s compliance with the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), signed in 2001 and in effect since 2004, which seeks to eliminate or reduce pollutants like dioxins and furans.

Prepared to keep the blockade in place until the company pulls out, leaders of the Movimiento Ambientalista Pro-Salud are meeting Tuesday with federal environmental prosecutor Patricio Patron to demand that Ecoltec’s environmental permit be cancelled.

Ecoltec has several plants around Mexico.

In the meantime, Mexico’s environmental authorities gave the cement industry permission to replace up to 35 percent of the fuel they use with the product of co-processing, and are reportedly set to up the limit to 58 percent.

(Quelle: IPS News.)

BRD: Die blinden Flecken im “Piratenprozess”

Freitag, Juni 18th, 2010

“Questions Abound about EU’s ‘Combating’ of Piracy

By Julio Godoy

Credit: EU NAVFOR

German Warship FGS Emden patrolling the Indian Ocean

BERLIN, Jun 16, 2010 (IPS) – Modern German justice had never handled a case of piracy until Jun 11, when 10 Somali seafarers, including children, were presented at a tribunal in the city port of Hamburg, some 300 km west from Berlin, on charges of robbing cargo in the Indian Ocean.

The accused are the first Somali people to be prosecuted in Germany as part of Operation Atalanta, the European Union’s military surveillance of the Indian Ocean officially established ‘to help deter, prevent and repress acts of piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia’.

According to the Hamburg prosecutor’s office, the Somali seafarers on Apr 5 attacked the German container ship Taipan. The cargo was liberated the same day by Dutch soldiers serving in Operation Atalanta.

The EU claims that the operation’s objectives are ‘the protection of vessels of the World Food Programme delivering food aid to displaced persons in Somalia, of vulnerable vessels cruising off the Somali coast, and the deterrence, prevention and repression of acts of piracy and armed robbery off the Somali coast’.

To that effect, since Dec 2008 EU war ships and planes and several hundred soldiers patrol the Indian Ocean to chase what the EU calls ‘Somali pirates’.

However, critics of the operation suggest that its hidden mission is to protect European vessels accused by Somali seafarers and international organisations of another form of piracy: illegal fishing and the dumping of toxic waste, including radioactive material, in Somali waters.

One example of the EU’s protection of vessels fishing illegally in the waters of the Horn of Africa is the Spanish tuna fishing boat Alakrana. In Oct 2009, Somali pirates seized the boat, arguing that it was fishing illegally in Somali waters.

Almost two months later, the Somali pirates released the boat for a ransom of some four million dollars after several attempts by the Spanish army to free the Alakrana had failed.

The Somali allegations that the Alakrana was illegally fishing in the Indian Ocean were never investigated. For Jack Thurston, a London-based activist monitoring EU subsidies for European companies, ‘it is almost certain that the Alakrana was fishing for species that are on the endangered list or not far from it’.

Thurston, founder and managing director of Fishsubsidy.org, a watchdog group that researches the EU’s subsidies for fisheries, told IPS that ‘the construction of Alakrana was part-funded by EU taxpayers to the tune of more than 4.2 million euro’.

Allegations that EU companies have been fishing illegally and dumping toxic waste in Somali waters have been frequent since a tsunami in Dec 2004 washed ashore containers full with medical, radioactive and chemical waste on the coast of Somalia.

This casual discovery was later confirmed by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). ‘Initial reports indicate that the tsunami waves broke open containers full of toxic waste and scattered the contents. We are talking about everything from medical waste to chemical waste products,’ Nick Nuttal, UNEP spokesperson, said at the time.

‘We know this material is on the land and is now being blown around and possibly carried to villages.’

Evidence gathered by the European Green party and environmental organisations show that Swiss and Italian companies have dumped toxic waste in the Indian Ocean.

The UN Special Representative for Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, has also repeatedly raised the issue of illegal fishing and the dumping of toxic waste in Somali waters. During a UN conference in July 2008, he told the press, ‘because there is no (effective) government (in Somalia), there is so much irregular fishing from European and Asian countries’.

Ould-Abdallah also denounced illegal fishing in the Somali waters before EU authorities. During a 2009 meeting with the high command of the EU’s Atalanta mission in Mombassa, Kenya, Ould-Abdallah said that ‘there is no doubt that there is illegal fishing by Asia and Europe’.

There is no doubt indeed. European boats have been caught fishing illegally practically all over the world, as prosecutions in Canada, Norway, the U.S. and elsewhere show. In addition, given the depletion of fish in European waters, European vessels are forced to go fishing further away – in West African waters, from the Canary Islands in the North to Angolan waters in the south, or in the Indian Ocean.

The waters off Somalia’s shore are still rich with several tuna varieties – all highly priced in international markets. A 2005 report from the marine resources assessment group (MRAG) estimated that the Somali economy loses some 90 million dollars a year due to illegal fishing. Estimates by the UNEP put the figure as high as 300 million dollars a year.

Such figures led the German retired admiral Lutz Feldt to urge the EU authorities to extend the Operation Atalanta mandate to the fight of illegal fishing. ‘For many, illegal fishing is a quick way to make money but for most people in Somalia it represents a heavy loss,’ Feldt told the German news television programme Fakt.

Feldt recalled that, ‘according to international law illegal fishing is a crime and it should be treated as such’.

Even European fishing companies admit that they are exploiting the Indian Ocean waters and involved in illegal fishing.

During a hearing on Operation Atalanta at the European Parliament in April 2009, representatives from French and Spanish ship-owner organisations told deputies that there were about 40 EU fishing boats operating in the Indian Ocean to catch three or four species of tuna fish.

So far, no illegal fishing in the Indian Ocean has been reported as part of Operation Atalanta, let alone European ships being caught doing it.

‘The French and Spanish boats fishing in the Indian Ocean operate in international waters,’ a spokesperson of the mission told IPS. ‘If they were fishing illegally in the area, it would be up to the national authorities of their countries of origin to see that they stop doing it.’ ”

(Quelle: IPS News.)