Posts Tagged ‘Indischer Ozean’

Global: Wichtig wie der Regenwald – Mangroven

Montag, Juli 19th, 2010

GLOBAL: Mangroves, much more than a swamp

Photo: David Gough/IRIN
Mangroves a “must-have” along the coast

JOHANNESBURG – On 26 December 2004 an undersea earthquake off Sumatra – one of the most powerful ever recorded – generated a tsunami that rolled across the Indian Ocean and surged onto the shores of southeast Asia with outrageous force. Coastlines protected by mangroves were the lucky ones. Or were they?

After the tsunami most disaster experts put mangrove forests on the list of “must-haves” for communities living along the coast; they bore the brunt of tidal waves, protecting people, animals, homes and livelihoods, and helped disperse the force of rushing water.

But the benefits of mangroves were soon caught up in a battle of studies. The main protagonists were researchers Jeff Vincent, from Duke University in the US, and Saudamini Das, from the University of Delhi in India, on one side, and a group from Australia, India and Guam on the other.

Das and Vincent studied villages hit by a cyclone in 1999 in the Indian coastal state of Orissa and were the first to show that mangroves could offer protection from certain types of disasters. Their work was published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Andrew Baird of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in Australia, Ravi Bhalla and V. Srinivas of the Foundation for Ecological Research, Advocacy and Learning in India, and Alexander Kerr of the University of Guam, said: “It would be extremely dangerous to rely on tree planting alone to shield coastal communities in the event of future tsunami or storm surges, and doing so could lead to further tragedies.”

Middle-of-the road

Now, the first global assessment of mangroves in a decade has appeared, and it takes a middle-of-the road stand on the benefits of mangroves as a protective measure against storms and tidal surges.

A mangrove is
a tree or shrub that grows in tidal, chiefly tropical, coastal  swamps
having numerous tangled roots that grow above ground and form dense
There are 70
species of mangrove
The countries
with the
largest mangrove areas are Indonesia with 21 per cent of
global mangroves, Brazil with 9 per cent, Australia 7 per cent, Mexico 5
per cent and Nigeria with 5 per cent
Source: The Atlas & various

“Mangroves are not a panacea; mangroves cannot provide much of a buffer against tidal waves which are more than 15 metres high,” acknowledged Mark Spalding, a marine ecologist at The Nature Conservancy, a UK-based NGO. “But that is not to say they do not act as a buffer – often it is the only thing communities have protecting them from the sea.”

Spalding is the lead author of the World Mangrove Atlas, which covers 123 countries and is billed as the most comprehensive assessment ever. He is enthusiastic about the role of mangroves in the unfolding impact of climate change. “It provides one of the best kinds of adaptation for coastal communities, who not only face more intense cyclones but sea-level rise.”

Like other trees, mangroves soak up harmful carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and store the carbon in the wood; when they die the carbon is trapped in the water-logged soil. “Unlike peatlands, [one of the most effective carbon stores of all ecosystems] you don’t face the threat of methane emissions,” Spalding noted.

Methane gas released from peat bogs in the northern third of the globe probably helped fuel the last major round of global warming, ending the last ice age between 11,000 and 12,000 years ago, a joint study by the University of California and the Russian Academy of Sciences concluded.

A UN Environment Programme assessment in 2009 found that worldwide, mangroves probably sequester carbon faster than terrestrial forests; the bad news is that mangroves are being lost three to four times faster than land-based forests, and about one-fifth of all mangroves have disappeared since 1980, according to the Atlas.

Restoring mangroves is also not always easy. Community-driven projects were often more effective, because “The big [internationally funded] projects got the species wrong,” Spalding said. The Philippines has made tremendous strides in improving mangrove coverage with new policies and projects driven by local government.

Many countries, such as Mexico, Belize, Tanzania and Mozambique, have established general legal protection for mangroves, controlling destructive activities by means of strict licensing systems.

The Atlas, published by Earthscan, is a joint project by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO), the International Society of Mangrove Ecosystems, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, UNEP-World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), UNESCO – Man and Biosphere (UNESCO-MAB), the UN University Institute for Water Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC).


(Quelle: IRIN News.)

Malediven: Es knirscht nicht nur der Sand unter den Füßen der TouristInnen…

Freitag, Juli 16th, 2010

“Maldives: Political Tensions Simmer in Tourist Paradise

by Feizal Samath (Colombo)

Tourists taking in the sun and sand in the idyllic Maldives may be forgiven if they are unaware of the political developments in this country, even when President Mohamed Nasheed’s government teetered on the brink of collapse recently.

After all, tourism, which is the country’s biggest revenue earner, is virtually isolated on some 80 of the country’s 1,100 islands. Access to many of its resorts — most of the Maldives’ islands are uninhabited — takes travel of anything between 30 minutes to several hours by boat.

‘The resorts are so far away from the capital (Male), that tourists and staff in the resorts know little that is happening or what is going on. On the resort islands, it’s a world of its own and absolute relaxation,’ explained Malin Hapugoda, managing director of Sri Lanka’s Aitken Spence Hotels Group, which has six tourism properties in the Indian Ocean country.

But behind the veneer of leisure and recreation in this tropical paradise lies the fact that the Maldives, which lies next to its closest friends and allies Sri Lanka and India, is finding its transition to democracy quite a bumpy one since a November 2008 poll ousted President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and ended his 30-year iron-fisted rule. That first multi-party democratic poll was won by Nasheed, a former political prisoner who promised democratisation and a campaign against corruption in this country of 309,000 people.

But on top of problems like the global economic slowdown and the impact of climate change, domestic political squabbles have been preoccupying Nasheed. The main opposition parties, which have control of Parliament, had been blocking important bills on privatisation and loans, making it virtually impossible for the government led by Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party to function, government officials say.

This came to a head on Jun. 29, when the Cabinet resigned en masse and complained to the President that it was impossible to function with a hostile Parliament, dominated by the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party and its allies that include supporters of the former president.

As it is, the ruling party can muster just 30 votes against the opposition’s 35, while the balance of 12 independents generally swing in favour of the opposition when voting on bills.

Some of the government’s biggest projects like as the public-private partnership to develop the airport had been stalled by the deadlock in parliament. Amid this deadlock, which raised questions about where governance was headed in the tiny country, Sri Lanka — itself facing a number of challenges after the end of its military defeat of Tamil separatists last year — mediated in the crisis in its neighbouring country.

On Jul. 7, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited the Maldives at Nasheed’s request and met all conflicting parties, after which a committee of six members of Parliament was appointed to resolve the dispute. On Jul. 8, Nasheed reappointed his 13-member Cabinet.

But more challenges lie ahead, including Maldives’ economic woes that the government will to work on with the opposition, even as people expect the democratic transition to deliver more benefits.

Nasheed’s pro-democracy government is grappling with a high budget deficit and a bloated civil service, both remnants of the previous regime.

The government is constrained by limits in commercial borrowings set up by the International Monetary Fund, which has stepped in with a 92 million U.S. dollar bailout package. In addition, plans to privatise services in transportation, health care and airports, in a bid to cut spending, have been stalled by the opposition.

‘It’s hard getting used to this for most people, and civil-service pay cuts, plus a rise in power rates, are unpleasant measures to the people,’ a woman activist who declined to be named said of the transition in the years after Gayoom.

Workers in the Maldives’ civil service are the highest paid workers in South Asia, earning more than three times than their Sri Lankan counterparts, for instance.

‘We try not to take political revenge against corrupt politicians of the former regime because that’s what you don’t do in a democracy. But the government is being blamed for that,’ said Mohamed Zuhair, a former journalist and now spokesman for President Nasheed’s office.

Locals were not too happy when, around the time of the recent crisis, the Nasheed government arrested two powerful parliamentary opposition leaders on charges of bribing members of Parliament in a cash-for-vote scandal.

‘Change and democracy is not easy to enforce in the Maldives,’ an environmentalist remarked in a telephone interview, but requested anonymity.

Still, the country of just 298 square kilometres is rated as the number one business environment in South Asia by World Bank’s ‘Doing Business Indicators’.

Officials say that political difficulties or not, tourists will keep coming to the Maldives. Tourism accounts for a third of its Gross Domestic Product, bringing in more than 500 million dollars annually. More than 655,000 tourists come to the Maldives each year.

‘We have a massive plan to develop harbours, roads, infrastructure, in addition to inviting investment on renewable energy projects,’ said Mifzal Ahmed, investment advisor at the Maldives Ministry of Economic Development. ‘In the next 10 years, the Maldives is working toward being a middle-income country where the basic needs of society are provided for.’

He added: ‘We want to provide value for money to income earners and create a prosperous liberal Muslim country where human rights are protected, there is good gender balance and women’s rights are ensured. That’s the vision of this government.’

© Inter Press Service (2010) — All Rights Reserved”


(Quelle: Global Issues.)

BRD: Die blinden Flecken im “Piratenprozess”

Freitag, Juni 18th, 2010

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

By Julio Godoy


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, 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.)

Ostafrika: Schon 20 Tote bei Bootsunfall mit Flüchtlingen

Mittwoch, Juni 2nd, 2010

“East Africa: More Bodies Found at Sea

By Anthony Kitimo 1 June 2010

Nairobi — The death toll from a boat accident in the Indian Ocean near the Kenyan border has risen to 20.

Eight more bodies have been recovered from Tanzanian waters after the vessel capsized in Tanga on Sunday night. The bodies were found along the Tanga coast on Monday night.

Tanzanian authorities said mv Fauz, a Kenyan registered boat, had more than 70 illegal immigrants when it capsized.

By Tuesday, rescuers were still looking for some 16 bodies, including that of the captain and his two colleagues believed to be Kenyans. Only 24 people have been rescued.

Kwale police commandant Nelson Okioga said Kenyan police and their Tanzanian counterparts were still looking for more bodies.

‘We have found two bodies along the Kenyan coast but the search is still on and we expect to find more bodies in the ocean,’ said Mr Okioga.

And, speaking to the Nation from Tanga, local police boss Jafari Mohammed said the boat capsized at Chongolowani in Tanga, a few kilometres from the Kenyan border after it was hit by a storm.

He said the vessel was extensively damaged.

‘Those rescued did not have travelling documents but are cooperating with the police,’ said the officer.

He said the vessel from Kenya was ferrying Ethiopians to Mozambique and South Africa.

The survivors have been detained by Tanzanian immigration officers.

‘They told us they had hired the Kenyan vessel to take them to their respective destinations,’ said Mr Mohammed.

In the past six months, many illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, Somalia, and Ethiopia have been arrested in various hotels in Mombasa while in transit to different countries.”


Somalia: NATO-Admiral trifft hohe Puntland-Offizielle

Samstag, Mai 29th, 2010

Somalia: NATO commanders meet Puntland officials off Bossaso

Officials from Somalia’s Puntland state got opportunity to interact and discuss with the Commander of the NATO Task Force, Commodore Steve Chick and his team who are patrolling the waters off Somalia as part of NATO’s counter-piracy operation, code-named Ocean Shield.

The meeting took place on board NATO flag ship HMS CHATHAM, which was anchored few miles off Bossaso port, the commercial capital of Puntland.

According to Abdi Ali Hirsi (Qarjab), the governor of Puntland’s Nugal region, the commander and his team briefed officials on NATO’s and the other counter piracy forces, including the EU Naval Force (EU NAVFOR) and the Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) operations in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean to fight piracy.

“25 officials from Bari, Karkaar, Nugal and Mudug regions of Puntland attended the meeting and we critically analyzed the anti-piracy mission,” Qarjab said.

The NATO officials informed us that they would be meeting Puntland public and government including the president who is currently out of the country,” he added.

NATO, which has fleets in Somalia’s coastlines has established a working relationship with Puntland in an attempt to uproot piracy off the Horn of Africa.

Somali pirates have carried out more than 300 attempted attacks on foreign vessel since the beginning of 2009, a record high compared to 2008.


Bahrain: USA vergrößern ihre Militärpräsenz

Donnerstag, Mai 27th, 2010

“US to double size of Bahrain naval base

Mazen Mahdi, Foreign Correspondent

MANAMA // A vital US naval base in the Middle East is getting a multi-million-dollar upgrade, which will double the station’s size and enable the US to better withstand the growing number of threats in the region’s strategic waterways.

Expansion work on the Naval Support Activity Bahrain base, which is home of the US Navy 5th Fleet Command, began yesterday with a ground-breaking ceremony, during which US officials emphasised the military, political and economic significance of the move towards ensuring regional peace and stability.

The US ambassador to Bahrain, Adam Ereli, said: “The US Navy’s presence in the region for 60 years has allowed the countries of the Gulf the peace and stability they need to prosper. As threats grow, from wherever they may be, it is important that our presence remains constant.

“What you see today is a commitment to staying in the region. Anybody who suggests that we are getting afraid or nervous or losing our resolve just has to take a look at what we are doing here today.”

The upgrade, which is expected to be completed in four phases over five years, will cost $580 million (Dh2.1 billion).

The 5th Fleet area of operation encompasses about 6.5 million square km of water, spanning the coastlines of 27 countries, including the Gulf, the Red Sea, the Gulf of Oman and parts of the Indian Ocean.

The area includes three strategically vital chokepoints – the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal, which links the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, and the Bab al Mandeb Strait at the southern tip of Yemen.

It is the US military’s most engaged theatre of operation, with the US maritime coalition supporting missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as carrying out counter-terrorism and counter-piracy efforts.

Iran’s repeated threats to close the Strait of Hormuz, its continued maritime exercises in Gulf waters and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s frequent testing of US warship reactions have also challenged the US in the area.

Tuesday’s warning by Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the Hizbollah leader, that his group would target ships heading in the direction of Israel in any future Lebanon-Israel war if Lebanon’s water ways are besieged, may have added yet another threat to the list.

Captain Enrique Sadsad, the 5th Fleet base commander, said in an interview: “Our naval forces and coalition partners are focused on executing our mission, keeping our forces and host nation secure, and are also actively engaged in partnerships and co-ordination with other Gulf allies to help ensure our mutual defence.

The base continues to grow in terms of operational requirements to sustain ongoing operations around this region,” Captain Sadsad said. “This expansion project will not only enhance our ability to support our tenant commands and their mission – whether that be logistics, aviation, theatre security, or surface operational support – but also provide the necessary infrastructure to support our service members and their families, including our civilian and contract employees.”

Plans for expansion of the base had been in the pipeline since 2003 as operational requirements increased after the September 11 attacks, but it was not until January 2008 that a lease agreement for a part of Bahrain’s recently decommissioned Mina Salman was reached between Manama and Washington.

The 28-hectare area will be used to relocate US and coalition port operations from their current 1-hectare facility in the same port.

The first phase of the upgrade is set to be completed in the autumn of 2012 and consists of constructing a perimeter fence, port operations centre, administrative buildings and waterfront development to support navy and coalition ships.

Later stages of the project will include the construction of barracks, a dining facility, recreation centre and a bridge over the road separating the base from the port to link the two sides.

The construction is also expected to benefit the local economy.

Mr Ereli said: “The expansion represents a huge investment in Bahrain and has great economic benefits. In addition to the lease contract we presently have about 300 ships visiting port each year and that number will likely increase by 30 per cent.

“A large part of the $580 million set aside for the project will benefit Bahraini companies. Twenty per cent of the construction cost, around $100 million, will be paid to Bahraini construction companies. Another $150 million will be used to buy construction material from Bahrain. We will also have thousands of Bahraini workers and consultants employed during the five-year long construction phase.”

Mr Ereli said that such investments carried a political message of confidence in Bahrain and the role it plays.

Hussain Jasim, a Bahraini MP with Al Wefaq Society, welcomed what he expects to be a boon to the country’s economy. Already, he said, the base contributes at least $150m to the Bahraini economy each year.

“They have directly contributed to the construction boom in Juffair area – where the [current] base is located – and I personally call that area “little America” because of the US-franchised restaurants and coffee shops that line its street,” he said.

“Every Bahraini dinar that is spent in the economy is worth four in circulation inside the economy so you imagine the impact [of the project],” he said.

“Hotels, car rental services, restaurants all depend to a certain extent on the US presence.”

The US Navy presence in Bahrain dates back to the Second World War but it was not until 1971 that the navy leased part of the former British base to set up what is the 5th Fleet Command today.”

(Quelle: The National.)