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Tuesday
Jul262016

Sea Turtle Egg Smugglers Busted, Shark Numbers Not What We Thought And Future Of UK Solar Unclear: 18th July - 24th July 2016

Two of the world's most impressive species took a blow last week as a major turtle egg poaching effort was foiled in Malaysia, and a new study revealed the shocking true numbers of Great White Shark around South Africa. Also it could be lights out for the UK Solar industry. Here's your weekly news roundup:

19,000 Turtle Eggs Seized in Sabah

Marine Police in the Malaysian province of Sabah successfully apprehended four smugglers in a bid to crack down on illegal poaching. Seizing a staggering 19,000 sea turtle eggs, this makes it the biggest turtle egg bust in Sabah to date.

The coastal region of Sabah is a breeding hotspot for Green and Hawksbill sea turtles, and with the famed Turtle Islands sitting 3km offshore from the port-town of Sandakan, the area’s annual influx of sea turtles and proximity to the mainland may be why they could acquire such a high number of eggs. The Turtle Islands consist of 10 islands, 3 of which make up Malaysia’s Turtle Island National Park, and although unlikely to have come from the park, it can’t be said for sure where exactly the eggs were poached from.

Flickr | dan ericksonThe illegal turtle egg smuggling industry is a two-pronged shame, with poachers either incubating eggs to sell the hatchlings into the illegal pet trade, or they sell them undeveloped to be eaten as local delicacies, often for their aphrodisiacal properties (which is scientifically unsubstantiated bogus!). Given the sheer numbers of this bust these eggs were probably destined for human consumption.

Efforts like this aim to destabilise the illegal industry as well as educate people in the destruction they could help prevent; teaching that these beautiful animals are worth more alive.

You can also be a part of protecting these turtles through our Malaysia Turtle Conservation Project.

New Report Finds Worrying Future for UK Solar

Flickr | Oregon Department of TransportationThe UK solar industry has been put under strain in recent months with the government cutting the subsidies that helped the industry grow. But now with Brexit piling on top of that major repercussions have been foreseen.

The new report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) found that over the past year the industry has seen a 32% fall in employees and is expected to exceed 12,500 jobs lost by the year is out.

The report also expresses concerns regarding a continued rise in power prices and lack of investors in solar due to post-Brexit-uncertainty. In fact the German green energy giant, Goodyields Capital has already stated they will not pursue UK investment for their second renewables infrastructure fund given the Brexit decision. The saga continues as the UK hasn’t made a clear standing on whether we’ll still have be part of the EU Internal Energy Market or even if we’ll have to abide by EU emissions targets. This would also of course mean the hindrance of UK-EU renewables partner projects.

All of these factors could ultimately lead to a dwindled workforce with hindered capacity and capability and lack of both foreign and domestic investment, eventually driving the price up for UK consumers. That’s the worst-case scenario.

However there is hope! The Fifth Carbon Budget and the newly coined Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) are both good ways of keeping solar energy out of the dark. Due to the newness of BEIS there is a call for policy reform.

The subsidies are gone and are not likely to return in the near future, however the report has some pretty interesting suggestions. These include the removal of levies on imported crystalline technology from China, support for the latest innovations such as ‘smart grids’ and energy storage technology, and support for businesses that invest in solar through tax systems. Implementing all of these measures would be great to see (wishful thinking), but even if the BEIS instates only one it would make a big difference.

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has also vouchsafed to help increase the amount of rooftop solar panels in the city, and Scotland have followed suit with Paris installing solar arrays on new builds.

Hopefully our solar industry won’t fall through the cracks but, as with everything Brexit, we won’t know until it happens… 

If you'd like to see a country that is taking the right steps to tackle climate change, you can volunteer on our Costa Rica Climate Change Research project.

Great White Shark Population Going South in South Africa

Flickr | Elias LevyA 7 year study has finally been published determining the population status of Great White Sharks around the coast of South Africa. The study sailed around Gansbaai, collecting 308 biopsy samples and used 5000 dorsal fin photographs to identify individuals.

It was concluded that there are only between 353 and 522 individuals left; a shocking 52% less than a previous study had theorised!

This deterioration in numbers is thought to be the combined effects of baited hooks (of which a global ban is being called), ocean pollution and the abhorrent use of shark nets.  

Flickr | Netown GrafittiThese low numbers spell out an even graver realisation. Previous ecological studies have specified that at least 500 breeding individuals are needed in order to sustain a healthy gene pool. This study found there are only 333 breeding Great Whites around the whole of South Africa’s coastline which means an increased likelihood for the presence of adverse genetic disorders. The report fears further as this current drop in numbers was a product of the last generation’s decline, foreshadowing an exponential future decline. In other words they may be beyond the pale of survival already.

This spells bad news for ecology too; as the shark numbers wane, Seal numbers will boom and could potentially affect local fish populations and so on. 

It is science like this that is imperative to the introduction of conservation action. Although it might be too late for this population of sharks it highlights the necessity for pragmatic, unequivocal data to accurately determine our impact on other shark populations, and indeed the world’s species in general, to bring about the necessary changes to ensure their survival.

As of yet further study is required to determine whether this population can be saved. To contribute to this cutting edge science, as well as getting up close to these impressive animals, check out our South Africa White Shark research project.

By Thomas Phillips - Online Journalism Intern

Frontier runs conservationdevelopmentteaching and adventure travel projects in over 50 countries worldwide - so join us and explore the world!

See more from our volunteers #Frontiervolunteer

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