Exotic marine life at a prime diving site in the South China Sea is being wiped out by a lethal combination of fish bombs and spear-fishing, conservationists said yesterday. \nPedro Blanco, an isolated rock pinnacle 85km east of Hong Kong, was home to a colorful variety of exotic marine life including blue marlins, mantas, reef rays, octopus and turtles until fishing boats and spear-fishermen targeted it. \nDynamiting by fishermen and a succession of overnight spear-fishing expeditions have now decimated fish stocks to the point where the site is in danger of becoming worthless as a diving location, according to marine experts Charlie Frew and Andy Cornish. \nThe pair have appealed to the Guangdong government in southern China to try to stop Chinese fishing vessels using bombs around Pedro Blanco and are now writing to the Hong Kong Underwater Association about the number of spear-fishing expeditions. \nFrew, who runs Hong Kong diving company Asiatic Marine and has dived at the site for seven years, said blast fishing had increased to levels where it was hardly worth diving at the 200m wide rock anymore. \n"Diving there used to be out of this world -- now it's dismal," he said. "There is no selective fishing. They are going after everything. It's like the Wild West -- it's a free for all." \nAndy Cornish, a marine biologist at the Swire Institute of Marine Science at the University of Hong Kong, said: "If you were to rate them on a scale of zero to 10 from low to huge impact, spear fishing would be a seven or an eight and blast fishing would be a 10." \nA large increase in the number of Hong Kong people diving with a corresponding increase in the number of weekend expeditions by spear-fishing teams accelerated the decline of fish stocks at Pedro Blanco, Cornish said. \n"I have dived in a lot of places in Southeast Asia and the Caribbean and Pedro Blanco was some of the best diving I have ever done," he said. "It's bathed in a current that passes the Philippines and had all sorts of tropical fish never recorded in Hong Kong waters." \nExplaining why it was important to preserve marine life at the rock, he said: "There are at least 10,000 divers in Hong Kong and most of them spend their time diving overseas. Here is a fantastic place on their doorstep and it is being trashed." \nHe described the activities of spear fishermen as "underwater carnage" and said he had seen dive boats from Hong Kong taking up to 40 spear fishermen a day to the site. \n"There has got to be a realization by the operators that it is totally unsustainable," Cornish said. "They are destroying things not just for everybody else but for themselves as well."
Vietnam has lodged an official protest with China following the sinking of a Vietnamese fishing boat that it said had been rammed by a Chinese maritime surveillance vessel near islands in the South China Sea. The Vietnamese fishing vessel, with eight fishermen onboard, was fishing near the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) on Thursday when it was rammed and sunk by the Chinese vessel, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement posted on a government Web site yesterday. All of the fishermen were picked up by the Chinese vessel alive and were transferred to two other Vietnamese fishing vessels
Reporters Without Borders has accused the Algerian government of taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “settle scores” with independent journalists, including those covering long-running anti-government protests. In a statement signed with Algerian non-governmental organizations, the watchdog on Thursday called for the immediate release of its correspondent, Khaled Drareni, who has been in pretrial detention since Sunday after being charged with inciting an unarmed gathering and endangering national unity. Drareni has been arrested several times for covering the “Hirak” anti-government protests held in the capital, Algiers, every Friday since February last year. Imprisoning people during a pandemic is “an act of physical endangerment,”
DIVIDED YOUTH: There is a belief that overseas students see themselves as superior, which is compounded by perceptions of their extreme wealth and multiple nationalities Chinese students flying home from overseas to escape the COVID-19 pandemic face a frosty reception from sections of the public who view them as wealthy, spoiled — and potentially contaminated. The number of officially reported cases in China has dwindled dramatically over the last month, but the country is now taking drastic steps to try and stem a second wave of infections brought in from abroad. With most international flights canceled and nearly all foreigners barred from entering the country, the vast majority of returnees are Chinese nationals, including many students. The situation has exposed animosities over class and privilege in Chinese society,
The dramatic quietening of towns and cities during lockdown in Britain has changed the way the Earth moves beneath our feet, scientists said. Seismologists at the British Geological Survey (BGS) have found that their sensors are twitching less now that human activity has been curtailed, leading to a drop in the anthropogenic din that vibrates through the planet. The fall in the human hum that rings around the world means that, in theory at least, the scientists should be able to detect smaller earthquakes in the UK, and more distant tremors in Europe and in countries further afield than their equipment usually