Another Small, Sad Loss to the World #environment #nature #extinction #SaveTheWorld

hawaiian tree snail shell

Drawing of apexfulva shell – because that’s all we get from now on.

The last known member of his species, George the Hawaiian tree snail has died.

Before reading his story, I didn’t know George existed, but I know there are many critters in trouble. Extinctions are ramping up around the planet, but Hawaii, where so many species once sheltered from competition now face an influx of outsiders, is the extinction capital of the world.

I’m sad to lose George.

He was named after a more-famous last-of-his-kind animal – Lonesome George, a Galapagos tortoise, who died in 2012. I met Lonesome George long ago on a tour of the Galapagos Islands. I’m sad about him too.

Lonesome George tortoise with his keeper

My own picture of Lonesome George with one of his keepers. I had to take a picture of a print – that’s how long ago I visited the Galapagos Islands.

There are other snails and other tortoises. If we were protecting habitats, it might not matter. Nature could recreate the Georges. But in too many places, we’re a destructive force.

Humans are part of nature. We don’t have to go away. To be pro-environment is not to be anti-human. We do have to change how we manage the land so all creatures have a home, and change is hard.

There may be another Achatinella apexfulva Hawaiian tree snail someplace on the island, but he/she (the snails were hermaphrodites) needs to be very lucky to survive.

Why am I sad? Who cares about snails and tortoises? And leopards, gorillas, sea turtles, orangutans, elephants, porpoises, tigers, rhinoceroses, the scaly pangolin, or the Asian Unicorn? Or anything with body parts used in folk medicine? Or… that’s the problem. Even if you don’t care about the rest of Creation, we’re impoverishing our own future.

There is hope. Wealthy individuals and non-profits set land aside as preserves. They buy from private parties, which is only fair.

Governments act. Without laws, a few individuals who may be selfish or desperate can destroy the world’s heritage.

It may even be possible to bring back recent extinctions with technology. But we don’t need cutting-edge genetics to save what we still have. We know what to do.

More Fish More Food More Profit – good news for people & #nature #environment #innovation #usa

"Fish" includes creatures like this King Crab

“Fish” includes creatures like this King Crab

Protecting the environment doesn’t have to mean sacrifice – at least, not in the world’s fisheries.

Fish populations are crashing in most of the world’s fisheries and it looks like remaining fishermen will fight each other to be the one who kills the last food-fish. That’s a sad dystonian view of the future.

Fish Up, Jobs Up, Money Up
A type of quota system called catch-share or fishing-rights is turning failing fisheries around. In Australia, Belize, Chile, Denmark, Namibia, the United States, and elsewhere, catch-share has accomplished something amazing.

In the U.S., since 2000, there has been a 70% drop in the number of overfished species. The number of fish with rebuilt populations has risen from zero to 39. At the same time, the number of jobs in fishing has risen by 31% in the past three years while revenue has risen 44%.

The total catch allowed is set by scientists using their latest data and each fisherman is allotted a percentage of that total. All fishermen have an incentive to use best practices and police their own waters. They advocate to protect spawning groups so there will be more fish, reduce wasteful “by-catch,” and police each other against cheating. It works when the quotas are rigorously and fairly enforced, so a country must have enough political will.

Enforcement was beautifully illustrated on the season premier of Deadliest Catch. As all the crab fishing boats waited for noon – the legal start of the season – a Coast Guard helicopter patrolled overhead. One captain made a mistake and dropped his first crab trap at 11 o’clock instead of 12 o’clock – realized his mistake, and radioed the Coast Guard to report himself. Self-reporting is a key element of the system – the Coast Guard told him to empty the trap and start over. Punish cheaters and reward those who play fair. It’s working – crab populations and quotas are up this year.

Catch-share turns the classic Tragedy of the Commons into triumph. It will take long-term discipline to support data collection year after year, and to fight the human desire to cheat. It’s a job that will never be done – but then, commercial fishing will never be done either – if we show enlightened self-interest.

Thanks to