The Pacific nation of Palau is exterminating thousands of the world's most widely farmed fish to protect its richly varied local species. \nThe tilapia, a primarily freshwater fish native to the Middle East and Nile region of Africa, is believed to be confined to just four inland ponds in Palau, an archipelago 850km east of the Philippines. \nWhile it has all the right characteristics for farming, its ability to reproduce quickly and eat anything means it would out-compete native fish if it escaped into Palau's rich environment. \n"Tilapia have the potential to wreak havoc for a long time," said Tarita Holm, an eradication team leader. "Tilapia are worse than an oil spill, because we can clean that up." \nTilapia have caused major problems around the world, most notably in Africa's Lake Victoria. Holm said other Pacific islands have also tried unsuccessfully to get rid of the fish, with Nauru battling it since 1978. \n"The greatest threat overall to biodiversity in the Pacific is invasive species," Holm said. "If we are able to [eradicate tilapia], we would be the first in the Pacific to have this invader and get rid of it." \nIn Palau's favor, tilapia are believed to be contained to four isolated ponds in Koror, the country's urban center, said Jennifer Boeder, the Environmental Quality Protection Board laboratory supervisor. \nKoror is mostly raised limestone with very few naturally occurring freshwater bodies. Two of the ponds are former oil containers, another is a former dry dock and the last is part of the Koror quarry. \nEradication teams have already killed 29,000 fish in two of the ponds with a chemical called rotenone, Boeder said. Teams will apply two doses of rotenone to each pond. \nIn Palau, no one knows exactly how long tilapia have been around. One point of entry is in shipments of live milkfish from Bali for foreign fishing vessels to use as bait, Boeder said.
‘OBVIOUS DIFFERENCE’: The Wuhan Institute of Virology has been researching bat coronaviruses to trace the SARS pathogen, which is 80 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2 The Chinese virology institute in the city where COVID-19 first emerged has three live strains of bat coronavirus on-site, but none match the new contagion wreaking havoc around the world, its director has said. Scientists think COVID-19 — which first emerged in Wuhan and has killed more than 340,000 people worldwide — originated in bats and could have been transmitted to people via another mammal. However, the director of the Wuhan Institute of Virology told state broadcaster China Global Television Network that claims made by US President Donald Trump and others that the novel coronavirus could have escaped from the facility were
HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES? An institute of the Chinese Ministry of Public Security and a company are to be sanctioned over ‘human rights violations and abuses’ The US Department of Commerce on Friday said that it would sanction a Chinese government institute and eight companies over alleged human rights abuses against Uighurs and other minorities in China’s western Xinjiang region. “These nine parties are complicit in human rights violations and abuses committed in China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs and other members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region,” the department said in a statement. The Chinese Ministry of Public Security’s Institute of Forensic Science and Aksu Huafu Textiles Co are to be sanctioned “for
SPACE RACE: The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp mission aims to land a robotic rover and put a probe into orbit around the planet China is targeting a July launch for its ambitious Mars mission, which includes landing a remote-controlled robot on the surface of the Red Planet, the company in charge of the project has said. Beijing has invested billions of dollars in its space program in an effort to catch up with its rival, the US, and affirm its status as a major world power. The Mars mission is among a number of new space projects China is pursuing, including putting Chinese astronauts on the moon and having a space station by 2022. Beijing had been planning the Mars mission for some time this year,
Former US vice president Joe Biden on Friday said he “should not have been so cavalier” after he told a radio host that African Americans who back US President Donald Trump “ain’t black.” In a call with the US Black Chamber of Commerce that was added to his public schedule, Biden said he would never “take the African American community for granted.” “I shouldn’t have been such a wise guy,” Biden said. “No one should have to vote for any party based on their race or religion or background.” Biden faced criticism after his comments earlier on Friday on The Breakfast Club, a