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Wildlife crimes, nature investments, Indian Ocean overfishing: 3 stories you may have missed

© Pete Oxford/iLCP

Editor's note: News about conservation and the environment is made every day, but some of it can fly under the radar. In a recurring feature, Conservation News shares three stories from the past week that you should know about.

1. China wildlife crime prosecutions up sharply after COVID-19 outbreak 

Government officials in China are cracking down on the illegal wildlife trade. 

The story: Over the first nine months of 2020, China prosecuted more than 15,000 people for wildlife-related crimes — a 66 percent uptick compared with 2019, Reuters reported. According to government officials, around 11,000 of those people were prosecuted for violating fishing restrictions or illegally hunting, while more than 3,000 people were arrested for wildlife trafficking. A large proportion of these illegal wild animal sales took place online, crime records indicate

The big picture: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic — which is believed to have originated at a wild animal and fish market in Wuhan, China — the Chinese government recently announced a permanent ban on its wild animal trade. According to a recent study, limiting the global wildlife trade is critical to preventing the next pandemic. “The wild animal trade puts species in contact with other species — and other diseases — that they likely would have never encountered naturally in the wild,” explained Jorge Ahumada, a Conservation International scientist and co-author on the study, in a recent interview with Conservation News. “We need to fund organizations that know how to track and enforce wildlife trade bans so that they can have a long-term impact on disease prevention.”

Across the globe, banks have pledged to increase investments to protect nature and combat climate change.

The story: Last week, 450 of the world’s publicly financed development banks pledged to dedicate more of their investments to supporting climate action and protecting nature, particularly in developing countries, reported Fiona Harvey for The Guardian. Along with committing to financially support low-carbon and climate-resilient development projects, these banks plan to boost investments in renewable energy and the protection of forests and the ocean as natural climate solutions

The big story: “Publicly financed development banks represent 10 percent of all global public and private investments so they have an enormous role to play in valuing nature and people,” said Herbert Lust, who leads Conservation International’s work in Europe. A recent report found that more than 25 percent of investments from publicly financed development banks fund projects that depend on vulnerable ecosystems. To protect these investments — and the nature they depend on — these banks must also divest from projects that could harm nature, Lust explained. 

“While the commitments made by publicly financed development banks are foundational steps, they must also further their global leadership to effectively shift to ‘nature-positive’ development finance by phasing out investments in activities that hurt nature and biodiversity.” 

Read more here

Overfishing is skyrocketing in the Indian Ocean, putting marine species such as squid and sharks at risk.  

The story: A new report found that illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing has surged in the Indian Ocean since 2015, reported Kimberly Riskas for Hakai Magazine. With little to no monitoring on the high seas of this region, squid fishing has skyrocketed by more than 800 percent over the past five years. Additionally, the report concluded that species such as sharks, porpoises and whales have little to no legal protection across the Indian Ocean, leaving them vulnerable to overfishing, as well.

The big picture: Studies show that nearly one-third of fish stocks are being exploited beyond sustainable levels in the Indian Ocean, which supplies nearly 15 percent of all wild-caught seafood and supports the livelihoods of millions of people. To prevent overfishing in the Indian Ocean, experts agree that countries in this region must implement laws and policies for the monitoring and protection of key marine species. 

Read more here


Kiley Price is a staff writer at Conservation International. Want to read more stories like this? Sign up for email updates here. Donate to Conservation International here.

Cover image: The Essequibo River in Guyana (© Pete Oxford/iLCP)

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