Conservation News

Mya-Rose Craig: ‘Young people need to see someone like them who is into nature’

The 18-year-old birder and environmentalist on improving diversity in her field and how the pandemic has affected the natural world

The young birder and environmental campaigner Mya-Rose Craig believes the coronavirus lockdown has had a positive impact on the environment. “Wildlife has been doing much better, as it is less disturbed by people, traffic and dogs. We are listening, noticing and looking much more,” she says. “Hopefully, people will continue to do these things now lockdown is easing, which can only benefit nature and our health.”

Craig, who turned 18 in May, is thought to be the youngest person to have seen half of the world’s birds. Yet for the past three months, she has had to content herself with birdwatching on her doorstep, in the Chew Valley, south of Bristol, where she lives with her parents. “We have been really lucky as it is really beautiful here with lots of places to walk from our doorstep,” she says. Her mornings consist of school work done next to a window overlooking the birdfeeders or outside in the garden where she can watch the birds much closer. Afternoons are spent on birdwatching walks.

It makes visible minority-ethnic young people think about nature and its possibilities when someone who looks like them is interested in it

Related: 'Greta effect' spurring UK children's online activism, Ofcom says

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Shark finning: why the ocean's most barbaric practice continues to boom

The recent seizure of the biggest shipment of illegal fins in Hong Kong history shows the taste for shark is still going strong

In the narrow streets of Sai Ying Pun neighbourhood, the centre of Hong Kong’s dried seafood trade, most window displays give pride of place to a particular item: shark fins. Perched on shelves, stuffed in jars and stacked in bags, shark fins are offered in all shapes and sizes. Several shops even include “shark fin” in their name.

Fins are lucrative, fetching as much as HK$6,800 (£715) per catty (604.8g, or about 21oz), and the trade is big business. Hong Kong is the largest shark fin importer in the world, and responsible for about half of the global trade. The fins sold in Sai Ying Pun come from more than 100 countries and 76 different species of sharks and rays, a third of which are endangered.

Mysterious and often misunderstood, the shark family is magically diverse – from glowing sharks to walking sharks to the whale shark, the ocean's largest fish. But these magnificent animals very rarely threaten humans: so why did dolphins get Flipper while sharks got Jaws?

If you ask the shop owners, a lot of them don’t know what shark species they are selling

Related: Why we need sharks: the true nature of the ocean's 'monstrous villains'

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Australia's register of threatened species critical habitat not updated in 15 years

Independent advice body says minister should be given emergency powers to protect habitat after natural disasters

Australia has not updated a register of habitat critical for the protection of threatened species for 15 years, prompting experts to call for it to be strengthened to protect more types of land.

An independent scientific body that advises the government on threatened species also says the environment minister should be given emergency powers to protect habitat after natural disasters.

Related: Land-clearing in NSW rises nearly 60% since laws were relaxed

Related: Global heating will make it much harder for tropical plants to germinate, study finds

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Can New England's cod fishing industry survive?

Scientists and fishers agree that cod fishery is at a crisis point – but they disagree on what’s causing it

It’s said cod were once so plentiful in New England they would throw themselves into a boat. It’s said you could walk across their backs to shore.

Gloucester, Massachusetts, grew up around cod. The waterfront teemed with boats and fishermen, heaps of fish thrashing in wire baskets. Boats were inherited from fathers and shipyards boasted of operating since 1684. As late as the 1980s, the cod were so abundant and large (30-50lb each) that the fishermen still brought in big hauls. Cod remains the state fish of Massachusetts.

Related: We are eating shrimp in record numbers. But for how much longer?

Before, people used to go out fishing and catch whatever they wanted. Now we’re the most regulated fishery in the world

We shouldn’t expect fishermen and scientists to see the same things, given the way each group observes the population

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'Human swan' to take flight on new mission to follow migrating ospreys

Conservationist Sacha Dench will also log marine mammals she sees from her paramotor on the 7,000km journey across Europe and Africa

Sacha Dench is not one to sit still. Known to many as “the human swan” for her record-breaking journey tracking migrating swans in a motorised paraglider, the conservationist and adventurer is planning her next aerial mission: to follow ospreys migrating 7,000km across Europe and Africa.

“It’s really hard to get people to care about migratory species because they are not the responsibility of any one country,” says Dench, who founded Conservation Without Borders and was named as a UN ambassador for migratory species this year. “Birds often don’t fit within borders so they don’t sit in national action plans unless they breed there. But we need to think of conservation in terms of a species’ entire flyway or migratory track.”

There was one magical moment when two swans flew alongside at my right wingtip

Related: The vultures aren't soaring over Africa – and that's bad news

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