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Sicilian island sees record-high migrant arrivals by boat
ROME, Italy, 25 March 2023 (CNN) - A record of more than 2,000 migrants arrived on the Sicilian island of Lampedusa in the past day, an Italian official said on Saturday. 

Tiwi Islands artefacts are being returned home
SYDNEY, Australia, 26 March 2023 (SBS) - After more than 50 years, 250 Indigenous artefacts - including a wooden frill necked lizard carving - discovered in a private collection are now being returned home to the communities that created them - on the Tiwi Islands and beyond.

Marshall Islands parents name children after vanishing landmarks
LONDON, UK, 24 March 2023 (Guardian) - Every summer when Tony Paul was a child in Kwajalein, an atoll in the Pacific nation of the Marshall Islands, his parents sent him and his siblings to spend time with their uncle on a remote chain of islands their ancestors once called home.

New islands could allow Hong Kong to build 4th tunnel
HONG KONG, 25 March 2023 (SCMP) - New artificial islands to be built near Lantau could allow Hong Kong to construct its fourth cross-harbour tunnel without going through congested urban areas, the city’s transport minister has said while discussing long-term strategies to tackle traffic issues.

Aland Islands chose electric ES-30 airplane for future regional flights
MARIEHAMN, Aland Islands, 24 March 2023 (IM) - Swedish electric airplane maker Heart Aerospace and the Government of Åland announced a collaboration to explore early use case for Heart’s electric regional airplane, the ES-30, in developing sustainable air services for the Baltic Sea group of islands.

Connect + Reflect + Act! at the Rural Islands Economic Partnership
BOWEN ISLAND, Canada, 24 March 2023 (Undercurrent) - What do you call a gathering of 100-plus passionate islanders from west coast BC communities? Organizers with the Rural Islands Economic Partnership (RIEP) refer to their April 25-27 Forum event on Gabriola Island, as an “unconference.” The Forum program will include a deeper dive into ‘Doughnut Economics’ and how this globally-recognized conceptual tool can be used to support BC’s rural island communities.

How a brutal POW camp became an idyllic island paradise
WASHINGTON, US, 24 March 2023 (NatGeog) - Each day tourists ride cable cars over Singapore's Keppel Harbour to a luxurious holiday isle haunted by death. In the world’s third most densely populated country, Sentosa Island is a popular getaway, thanks to its sandy beaches, majestic rainforest, lavish resorts, and theme parks. But lurking behind that idyllic veneer are startling tales of torture, plunder, and deadly epidemics.

Palm oil deforestation hits record high in Sumatra's 'orangutan capital'
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 23 March 2023 (Mongabay) - Deforestation associated with oil palm cultivation has declined in recent years in Indonesia, but in a biodiversity haven at the northern tip of Sumatra, the forest is being cleared at record pace, a report shows.

The impacts of bottom trawling in Marine Protected Areas
CAMBRIDGE, UK, 23 March 2023 (BirdLife) - The fishing lobby has been violently reacting to the European Commission’s Action Plan that seeks a timid and slow phase-out of bottom trawling inside Marine “Protected” Areas (MPAs). Many false arguments are being used to oppose an obviously needed measure that is crucial for the restoration of biodiversity, protection of carbon stocks and regeneration of fish populations - and hence the future of fishing itself.

Decline of more than 500 species of marine life on Australian reefs
LONDON, UK, 22 March 2023 (Guardian) - More than 500 common species of fish, seaweed, coral and invertebrates that live on reefs around Australia have declined in the past decade, a study has found, as experts warn “not all is well in the ocean”. Global heating was likely the main driver of the falls, with marine heatwaves and a rise in ocean temperatures hitting species that live on rocky and coral reefs.

OMP to develop 30MW tidal energy project in Orkney Islands
NEW YORK, US, 23 March 2023 (OE) - Tidal energy developer Orbital Marine Power (OMP) has been awarded an Option Agreement from Crown Estate Scotland for a new 30MW tidal energy project in the Westray Firth. OMP also confirmed it had a grid connection in place to service the pioneering project, which is located adjacent to the European Marine Energy Centre facility, where Orbital has already deployed the 2MW O2, for which it says is "the world's most powerful tidal turbine" under commercial operation.

Australia PM unveils plan for historic constitution vote
SYDNEY, Australia, 23 March 2023 (BBC) - Australia's leader has unveiled crucial details of a planned referendum which could see it change its constitution for the first time in almost 50 years. If approved, the vote later this year would establish an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice - a formal body for Indigenous people to give advice on laws. PM Anthony Albanese argues it would be a "very simple" but "momentous" change.

Bali marks new year with day of silence
LONDON, UK, 22 March 2023 (Guardian) - Bali’s typical soundtrack of construction sites and car horns has been replaced for 24 hours with birdsong and the lapping of waves as the island celebrates its annual day of silence. To celebrate the Balinese New Year, known as Nyepi, the island’s usually busy streets have fallen quiet with residents and tourists expected to remain indoors for a day of quiet self-reflection.

China firm wins Solomon Islands port project
LONDON, UK, 22 March 2023 (Guardian) - A Chinese state company has won a major contract to redevelop the port in Honiara, the capital of Solomon Islands, prompting a cautious response from Pacific neighbours. The prime minister of  Samoa raised concerns that the commercial port “might morph into something else” and suggested that Pacific countries may have to monitor the situation.

A Pacific Remote Islands NMS supported by President Biden
KAUAI, Hawaii, 21 March 2023 (KN) - President Joe Biden has directed the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to consider initiating a new National Marine Sanctuary designation within the next 30 days to all U.S. waters around the Pacific Remote Islands, which are southwest of Hawaii. If completed, the new sanctuary would conserve 777,000 square miles and ensure the U.S. will reach the Biden’s goal of conserving at least 30 percent of ocean waters under American jurisdiction by 2030.

Salmon farmers to challenge Discovery Islands decision - again
EDINBURGH, UK, 21 March 2023 (FFM) - Fish farming companies Mowi, Grieg Seafood and Cermaq have separately filed applications for a judicial review of the Canadian federal government’s decision not to review aquaculture licences for the Discovery islands region of British Columbia.

Indonesian campaigns getting money from illegal activities
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 21 March 2023 (Mongabay) - As Indonesia gears up for legislative and presidential elections in less than a year, authorities have warned of the pattern of dirty money from illegal logging, mining and fishing flowing into past campaigns.

Crop-raiding by wild animals in Sri Lanka reach all-time high
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, 21 March 2023 (Mongabay) - Crop damage by wild animals in Sri Lanka during the first half of 2022 totaled around 144,989 metric tons of 28 types of crops, including paddy and vegetables, and 93 million coconuts resulting in an overall loss of 30,215 million Sri Lankan rupees ($87.5 million), according to a new estimate.

Why climate activists want to stop Denmark's new island-city
LONDON, UK, 22 March 2023 (Time) - Rising out of Copenhagen’s harbor is one of Europe’s most controversial climate projects. Lynetteholm, a one square mile artificial island, is being built to shield the low-lying Danish capital from storm surges, which are intensifying as sea levels rise. Politicians approved the project in 2021, promising a world-leading bounty of benefits, from flood protection, to new housing, to cash for other city upgrades. But ever since then, climate activists, scientists, and city residents have been on a mission to stop Lynetteholm. 

Sri Lanka secures bailout for struggling economy
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, 20 March 2023 (BBC) - Sri Lanka has secured a $3bn bailout from the International Monetary Fund as it faces its worst economic crisis since independence. The deal has been nearly a year in the making and a lifeline for the country that has billions of dollars in loans.

Row erupts over deep-sea mining regulations
LONDON, UK, 21 March 2023 (Guardian) - Michael Lodge, a British lawyer and the head of the UN-affiliated body responsible for governing mining in the high seas, has been criticised by diplomats who claim he has been pushing them to accelerate the start of deep-sea mining.

Eradication operation aims to remove mice from Marion Island
LONDON, UK, 21 March 2023 (Guardian) - Non-native house mice are to be removed from Marion Island in the southern Indian Ocean to protect the wandering albatross and other endangered seabirds, in the world’s largest eradication programme of its kind.

How H5N1 is killing thousands of sea lions in Peru
PARACAS, Peru, 21 March 2023 (Guardian) - Approaching the Isla San Gallán by boat – a two-hour trip from the Paracas national reserve – you can hear the colony of sea lions before it is possible to make out the individuals in the dark brown mass lining the strand. On closer inspection, there are several corpses being fed on by turkey vultures and gulls. While deaths are normal in large colonies and not necessarily a sign of disease, a drone flight confirmed the presence of dozens more corpses littering the beach. 

As Pacific islanders, we bear the brunt of the climate crisis
LONDON, UK, 20 March 2023 (Guardian) - The Pacific island countries are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and Vanuatu is the most vulnerable country in the world according to a recent study. Our countries emit minuscule amounts of greenhouse gases, but bear the brunt of extreme events primarily caused by the carbon emissions of major polluters, and the world’s failure to break its addiction to fossil fuels.

Mysterious Corsican 'cat-fox' revealed as unique species
PARIS, France, 16 March 2023 (AFP) - The elusive striped "cat-fox" familiar mostly to Corsican shepherds and as a source of intrigue to scientists, is indeed its own species specific to the French Mediterranean island, the French office for Biodiversity (OFB) has confirmed.

Is Kangaroo Island at risk of being loved to death
PORT PIRIE, Australia, 21 March 2023 (ABC) - Kangaroo Island has notched a tourism trifecta after collecting its third destination accolade in three months, but its mayor is worried that the island can't keep up with its own popularity. He said the the island's road infrastructure was in need of upgrading and another thing that the jury's out on at the moment is the imposition of cruise ship passengers who really don't pay anything into the island to help with infrastructure.

Bearded pigs a 'cultural keystone species' for Borneo's Indigenous groups
SAN FRANCISCO, US, 20 March 2023 (Mongabay) - A recent study examined the impacts of ecological and sociocultural influences on bearded pig populations in Malaysian Borneo. The researchers found that the presence of pigs is “compatible” with Indigenous hunting in certain areas.

New MPA a safe haven for blue whales in Chile
SAN FRANCISCO, US, 21 March 2023 (Mongabay) - Located south of the island of Chiloé in the Gulf of Corcovado, the new MPA spans 100,000 hectares and will safeguard an important feeding and breeding area for blue whales, a species listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Alaskan cruise ship invasion
VICTORIA, Canada, 21 March 2023 (Hakai) - After a one-year pandemic pause and a limited season in 2021, cruises to Alaska resumed and surged in popularity in 2022. In this interactive feature, we follow the Oceanic Topaz, a fictional but representative cruise ship, on a seven-day journey from Seattle to Alaska, stopping at various ports to see the damage in its wake. The evidence is clear: the industry needs an overhaul.

UN calls for international 'specialized support force' to Haiti
LONDON, UK, 21 March 2023 (Guardian) - The United Nations urges deployment of an international “specialized support force” to impede Haiti’s accelerating tumble into extreme violence after more than 530 people were killed in the opening weeks of this year.

Extinct but not gone - the thylacine continues to fascinate us
HOBART, Australia, 19 March 2023 (Conversation) - An iconic symbol of extinction for many but also a symbol of hope, the thylacine has high cultural significance. This iconic animal might still be here if the European colonisers of Tasmania had appreciated a few decades earlier just how unique the thylacine was, as the last member of the marsupial carnivore family Thylacinidae, and stopped persecuting it.

Pacific at risk from marine invasive species
WELLINGTON, New Zealand, 20 March 2023 (RNZ) - James Nikitine, who founded Blue Cradle in 2020, said species of algae, mollusks and worms could travel around the world and "invade local ecosystems" by hitching a ride on the bottom of ships. Nikitine said the risk was higher now than before because of the "mind boggling" number of container ships in the ocean.

The IPCC deliver 'final warning' on climate crisis
LONDON, UK, 20 March 2023 (Guardian) - Scientists have delivered a “final warning” on the climate crisis, as rising greenhouse gas emissions push the world to the brink of irrevocable damage that only swift and drastic action can avert. The comprehensive review of human knowledge of the climate crisis took hundreds of scientists eight years to compile and runs to thousands of pages, but boiled down to one message: act now, or it will be too late.

Samoa PM urges world to save Pacific people from climate crisis
LONDON, UK, 19 March 2023 (Guardian) - The world must step back from the brink of climate disaster to save the people of the Pacific from obliteration, the prime minister of Samoa has urged. On the eve of a landmark report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which is expected to deliver a scientific "final warning" on the climate emergency, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, Samoa’s prime minister, issued a desperate plea for action.

Trouble in paradise as Bali loses patience with Russians, Ukrainians
HONG KONG, 18 March 2023 (CNN) - With its balmy beaches, laid back lifestyles and holiday vibe, the tropical paradise of Bali has much to offer any world weary traveler – let alone those fleeing a war zone. So perhaps it should be no surprise that since President Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Indonesia’s most famous holiday island has once again become a magnet for thousands of Russians and Ukrainians seeking to escape the horrors of war.

The tiny Philippine island on the US-China frontline
FUGA ISLAND, Philippines, 17 March 2023 (Guardian) - Years ago, Fuga Island was set to host a Chinese ‘smart city’. Now it may become home to American troops as the US seeks to protect Taiwan and the region. The residents of the remote community of just over 2,000 on the northern tip of the Philippines are farmers and fishermen but things are changing. These days a detachment of marines watches its coastline closely. The coast guard also regularly patrols the area, and might soon build a station there. They could soon be joined by US troops, too.

Svalbard blocks helicopter landings for Tom Cruise film
LONDON, UK, 17 March 2023 (Guardian) - The producers of the latest Mission Impossible film dropped their attempt to obtain permission for dozens of helicopter landings on Svalbard, the protected Arctic archipelago halfway between Norway and the north pole where polar bears outnumber people. The local authorities refused permission for the 40-odd helicopter landings on various sites requested by PolarX, the production company involved, citing concerns over disturbance to wildlife.

Six island nations commit to fossil fuel-free Pacific
PORT VILA, Vanuatu, 17 March 2023 (CD) - Climate justice advocates celebrated after six island nations - Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Tonga, Fiji, Niue, and the Solomon Islands - committed to building a "fossil fuel-free Pacific" and urged all governments to join them in bringing about an equitable phaseout of coal, oil, and gas.

The forest guardian of Madagascar
CAMBRIDGE, UK, 17 March 2023 (BirdLife) - Located in southeast Madagascar, the 58000 ha Tsitongambarika tropical forest is home to unique wildlife. New species of plants and animals continue to be discovered, while the forest is a vital water supply for local communities in addition, to supporting livelihoods. Deforestation, driven by local subsistence agriculture is a major threat and since 2006 Asity Madagascar has promoted conservation of Tsitongambarika and been working with local communities on forest preservation activities.

Advancing forest conservation in Sao Tome and Principe
CAMBRIDGE, UK, 17 March 2023 (BirdLife) - On the island of São Tomé, one third of the territory is covered by mostly primary forests, an exceptional natural habitat for various species of fauna and flora that present a very high level of endemism. More than 33% of the country’s population depend directly on these areas for livelihoods, further underlining their importance. 

Breast cancer gene linked to Orkney islands
LONDON, UK, 16 March 2023 (BBC) - A gene variant which is known to increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer has been identified in people with Orkney heritage. A new study suggests one in 100 people with grandparents from Orkney has a specific mutation of the BRCA1 gene. It found that most of them could trace their family ancestry back to the island of Westray. It is believed to be the first time a geographic ancestral link of this kind has been made within the UK.

Japan sends missile units to southwestern island
NAHA, Japan, 16 March 2023 (JT) - Japan on Thursday deployed Ground Self-Defense Force units including missile squads to a remote southern island near the disputed Senkaku Islands and Taiwan, apparently in response to China’s intensifying military activities in nearby waters.

Trinidad and Tobago is failing children locked in Syrian camps
LONDON, UK, 17 March 2023 (Guardian) - During Covid, the Caribbean republic shut its borders, stranding citizens overseas; now it has left children vulnerable to illness, death and IS recruitment.

Vote to be held on eradicating all Uist estate's deer
LONDON, UK, 16 March 2023 (BBC) - A vote is to be held on whether all the red deer on a community-owned estate in the Western Isles should be culled. Some residents of 93,000-acre South Uist Estate have raised concerns about Lyme disease, which can be spread to humans from infected deer tick bites.

World's first octopus farm proposals alarm scientists
LONDON, UK, 16 March 2023 (BBC) - A plan to build the world's first octopus farm has raised deep concerns among scientists over the welfare of the famously intelligent creatures. The farm in Spain's Canary Islands would raise about a million octopuses annually for food, according to confidential documents seen by the BBC. They have never been intensively farmed and some scientists call the proposed icy water slaughtering method "cruel."

Taiwan ally Honduras diplomatic switch to China
TAIPEI, Taiwan, 16 March 2023 (Guardian) - Taiwan has urged Honduras not to “quench your thirst with poison and fall into China’s debt trap”, adding it would not compete monetarily with China to keep its formal allies after its decision to switch diplomatic ties from Taipei to Beijing this week.

'Phenomenal loophole' in quotas could lead to massive overfishing
LONDON, UK, 16 March 2023 (Guardian) - A push by EU fishing nations including France and Spain to weaken how fish catches are reported could see massive overfishing of endangered species and even “call into question” the whole point of setting quotas, according to confidential EU documents seen by the Guardian.

Brazilian researchers find 'terrifying' plastic rocks on remote island
TRINDADE ISLAND, Brazil, 16 March 2023 (Reuters) - The geology of Brazil’s volcanic Trindade Island has fascinated scientists for years, but the discovery of rocks made from plastic debris in this remote turtle refuge is sparking alarm. Melted plastic has become intertwined with rocks on the island, located 1,140 km from the southeastern state of Espirito Santo, which researchers say is evidence of humans’ growing influence over the earth’s geological cycles.

Green light for first step in Shetland tunnels plan
LERWICK, UK, 14 March 2023 (ST) - Councillors have approved  the first step in £500 million plans for fixed links – and urged officials to make it a “priority of priorities”. The SIC’s environment and transport committee have given the green light to progress the “Shetland Inter-Island Transport Connectivity” report that could cost up to £700,000 and take an estimated 18-months to complete.

Majority of Lord Howe Island off limits to visitors
PORT MACQUARIE, Australia, 16 March 2023 (ABC) - The majority of world-heritage-listed Lord Howe Island has been closed to non-essential visitors due to the escalating risk of an invasive, disease-causing fungus - myrtle rust. 

Plants on Mauritius are at risk of extinction
LONDON, UK, 16 March 2023 (NHM) - Plants on the island of Mauritius are at risk of extinction because only a handful of the native animals that can spread their seeds survive. This dietary dilemma is the result of 400 years of extinctions on the island, which included the loss of the iconic dodo, have left 28% of the island's native fruits and 7% of seeds simply too big to fit in the mouths of the smaller fruit-eating animals (frugivores) that are left. Introduced species are also too small, so they can't take over the role of spreading seeds.

BC government to fund further study of Vancouver Island rail line
VICTORIA, Canada, 15 March 2023 (Trains) - The British Columbia government will spend C$18 million on planning for a possible resurrection of rail service on the former Esquimalt & Nanaimo line on Vancouver Island, beating by a day a court-ordered deadline to declare intentions for the long-dormant rail line but pushing an ultimate decision farther into the future.

Loss of wetlands threatens South Sumatra's rich fish-preserving tradition
PALEMBANG, Indonesia, 15 March 2023 (Mongabay) - Rural communities in South Sumatra, an Indonesian province that’s two-fifths wetlands, have long relied on catching freshwater fish as a source of livelihood. However, the wetlands are disappearing at a rapid rate, filled in to make way for oil palm plantations and highways, and threatening the region’s long-running fish-preserving tradition.

In Sri Lanka and beyond, seagrass key to livelihoods, marine habitats
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, 15 March 2023 (Mongabay) - Following a proposal from Sri Lanka, the United Nations declared March 1 as World Seagrass Day, recognizing their importance and creating awareness of this much-overlooked marine habitat. A recent four-country study including Sri Lanka examines household dependencies on seagrass and highlights how coastal fishers rely on seagrass habitats for higher fish catch.

Database of conflicts driven by Indonesia's palm oil smallholder scheme
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 16 March 2023 (Mongabay) - Since the 1970s, as corporate-run palm oil plantations spread across Indonesia, companies promised to share them with local villagers, in plots known as “plasma.” Initially, they made these commitments to secure access to land and subsidized government financing; from 2007, it was a legal obligation to share a fifth of any new plantation with villagers. However, Mongabay repeatedly encountered allegations that companies were failing to deliver and it has now built a database of public reports to shed light on a widespread problem for which there was limited data.

Parents in Indonesia outraged by 5.30am school start trial
LONDON, UK, 15 March 2023 (Guardian) - Controversial pilot project in Kupang, the capital of East Nusa Tenggara province, has twelfth-graders at 10 high schools starting classes in the dark.

Tasmanian devils slash population of brushtail possums
LONDON, UK, 15 March 2023 (Guardian) - The introduction of Tasmanian devils to Maria Island halved the population of brushtail possums, according to new research that suggests restoring top predators to ecosystems could help limit the number of overabundant prey. 

Netherlands repatriates indigenous remains to Caribbean isle
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, 14 March 2023 (AP) - The Netherlands has returned the remains of nine indigenous people that archaeologists found more than 30 years ago on the tiny Dutch Caribbean island of St. Eustatius.

3 ways to help Indonesia grow more sustainable aquaculture
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 14 March 2023 (Conversation) - Aquaculture in Indonesia produces more than twice as much fish as captured fisheries. This sector has surged, with production rising from 2.4 million tonnes in 2010 to 6.4 million tonnes in 2019. However, the growth in aquaculture development comes with environmental impacts. These include deforestation of mangroves for aquaculture farming, and the discharge of waste from aquaculture activities.

Island families oppose marine protection areas around Tiree
LONDON, UK, 15 March 2023 (BBC) Islanders in Tiree have said proposed new HPMAs would wipe out the local fishing industry. The island in the Inner Hebrides suffers from depopulation and is home to about 653 people. Tiree's community council and development trust said fishing supported nine boats and 20 full-time jobs. The annual catch of crab and lobster is worth about £1m.

Banking on the seaweed rush
VICTORIA, Canada, 14 March 2023 (Hakai) -Seaweed farmers promise to feed us, combat climate change, support coastal communities, provide wildlife habitat, and more. Can seaweed do it all? 

Kiribati's efforts to address sea-level rise
LEMMER, The Netherlands, 14 March 2023 (HI) - The impacts of climate change and sea-level rise on daily life in Kiribati and the Pacific region can also be felt in the hydrographic profession. In this interview, Tion Uriam, the national coordinator for hydrography and charting in Kiribati, emphasizes the challenges faced by Pacific Island nations and the importance of addressing root causes.

Bali plans tourist motorbike ban over misbehaviour
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 14 March 2023 (BBC) - Bali is planning to ban foreign tourists from using motorbikes after a spate of cases involving people breaking traffic laws. Tourists will instead get around on vehicles provided by travel agents. The plan has been divisive as tourism needs to recover from Covid losses.

Madagascar migrants drown trying to reach Mayotte
LONDON, UK, 13 March 2023 (BBC) - At least 22 people have died after their boat capsized in the Indian Ocean, while undertaking a perilous, 400km journey from Madagascar to the French territory of Mayotte. Hundreds of migrants are estimated to die every year trying to make such crossings.

Siemens completes Azores sustainable power project
ZUG, Switzerland, 14 March 2023 (Siemens) - Siemens Smart Infrastructure, in partnership with Fluence, a market leader in energy storage established in 2018 by Siemens and AES, has successfully completed and handed over a sustainable energy project on the Azores island of Terceira to the Portuguese energy provider EDA – Electricidade dos Açores.

Heavy-lift drone to protect Wake Island from destructive rats
PARIS, France, 14 March 2023 (DroneDJ) - Specialized heavy-lift drone producer Parallel Flight Technologies has been tapped by USDA Wildlife Services to adapt its Firefly UAV developed to assist firefighters for a natural wildlife preservation project aiming to eradicate a destructive population of invasive rats on Wake Island.

Oldest sea reptile from Age of Dinosaurs found on Spitsbergen
UPPSALA, Sweden, 13 March 2023 (Phys.org) - For nearly 190 years, scientists have searched for the origins of ancient sea-going reptiles from the Age of Dinosaurs. Now a team of Swedish and Norwegian paleontologists has discovered remains of the earliest known ichthyosaur ("fish-lizard") on the remote Arctic island of Spitsbergen.

Will next Pacific Islands Forum boss do more harm than good?
WELLINGTON, New Zealand, 14 March 2023 (RNZ) - The question being asked around the Pacific is to how the region's leaders could agree to Nauru's Baron Waqa becoming the new secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum. This is a high-level diplomatic post and the former Nauru president has proven to be a controversial figure.

Greek archaeologists protest holiday island assault
ATHENS, Greece, 14 March 2023 (AP) - State-employed archaeologists in Greece launched strike action Tuesday to protest an assault on an archaeologist on the island of Mykonos, an attack they say may have been linked to commercial pressure to extend tourism development. Planning permission in Greece is often subject to a veto by the local archaeological service, which is tasked with protecting the country’s ancient heritage.

New map boosts Philippine eagle population estimate
MANILA, Philippines, 14 March 2023 (Mongabay) - The Philippine eagle has been declared threatened with extinction for nearly three decades, but little is definitely known about its range and its wild population. Using satellite images, decades of georeferenced nest locations, and data from citizen scientists, a team of researchers identified 2.86 million hectares of forest suitable for the eagles, which they estimate host around 392 breeding pairs.

The Cuban Collapse - a photo essay
HAVANA, Cuba, 13 March 2023 (Guardian) - Far from the romanticised notion of Old Havana, this project documents the city’s housing situation as a microcosm of the country’s collapse. Many buildings have collapsed or been declared uninhabitable, forcing people to live in shelters or squat in unsafe conditions while new hotels are built around them.

Inquiry into Canadian police unit accused of excessive force
TORONTO, Canada, 10 March 2023 (Guardian) - The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, a watchdog arm of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said it would examine the activities of the community-industry response group, or C-IRG, based in British Columbia. During the Fairy Creek blockade against old-growth forest logging on Vancouver Island in September 2021, officers with the special unit were accused of ripping off protesters’ masks to pepper-spray them and dragging them by their hair.

Shetland sanctuary fights to save seals as pollution takes toll
HILLSWICK, UK, 13 March 2023 (AFP) - Pete and Jan Bevington -- who run the sanctuary at Hillswick, a village north of Shetland's main town, Lerwick - say pollution is taking its toll on seal populations on the archipelago, known for its rugged coastlines, dramatic cliffs and diverse wildlife.

Indonesian farmers fight for their land in nickel mining boom
WAWONII, Indonesia, 13 March 2023 (AFP) - Three women with machetes stood guard at their farm hilltop on Indonesia's Wawonii Island, directing their blades towards the nickel miners working in the forest clearing below.

A giant seaweed bloom that can be seen from space
NEW YORK, US, 11 March 2023 (NBC) - A raft of brown-colored seaweed in the Atlantic Ocean is so vast it can be seen from space. Spanning roughly 5,000 miles - about twice the width of the United States - the thick blanket of sargassum floats between the Gulf of Mexico and the shores of West Africa. Scientists say this bloom is one of the largest on record, stoking fears that seaweed invasions of beaches in the coming weeks and months could be particularly severe.

There's more to saving endangered species than captive breeding
CANBERRA, Australia, 13 March 2023 (Conversation) - The orange-bellied parrot is one of the most endangered birds in the world. In 2016, just four females returned to Tasmania from migration, and only one of them produced a surviving descendant. 

Biden curbs drilling ahead of decision on Alaska oil project
LONDON, UK, 13 March 2023 (BBC) - President Joe Biden has imposed limits on oil and gas drilling in 16 million acres of Alaska and the Arctic Ocean. The announcement on Sunday came as his administration reportedly prepares to approve a major drilling project elsewhere in the region. The $8bn Willow project - if agreed - would be one of the biggest oil projects in the country in decades.

Giant poppy sculpture to mark Scottish island's link with opium trade
EDINBURGH, UK, 12 March 2023 (Scotsman) - A three-metre tall sculpture of a cluster of poppies has been designed with the intention of depicting the island’s links to the 19th Century opium trade. The sculpture is due to sit in the grounds of Lews Castle in Stornoway, built by James Matheson in 1847 to signal his arrival as new owner of Lewis which he bought following the death of the last of the Mackenzies of Kintail using his vast wealth derived from flooding China with opium in the mid 19th Century.

Indonesia's Merapi volcano erupts, covers villages in ash
YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia, 11 March 2023 (AFP) -  Indonesia's Mount Merapi, one of the world's most active volcanoes, erupted on Saturday, spewing out smoke and ash that blanketed villages near the crater.

Rule change sees foreign investors back in Indonesia's fisheries scene
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 10 March 2023 (Mongabay) - The Indonesian government has rolled out a new fisheries management policy that, among other things, caps the catch quota for industrial fishers, but also allows foreign investment back into the marine capture sector.

Indigenous funding model is a win-win for ecosystems and local economies
SAN FRANCISCO, US, 10 March 2023 (Mongabay) - Over the past 15 years, First Nations in Haida Gwaii and central and northern coastal British Columbia, Canada, have turned the tables around: once subjected to massive economic, social and cultural damages due to the extractive logging industry, they have now successfully built a sustainable economy that focuses on protecting sensitive ecosystems, while increasing communities’ well-being.

Anger in Western Isles over plans to protect Scottish waters
LONDON, UK, 10 March 2023 (BBC) - The Scottish government has committed to designating at least 10% of Scotland's seas as highly protected marine areas (HPMAs) to offer better protection to ecosystems. Commercial and recreational fishing would be banned in the zones. The Western Isles local authority has said it would oppose plans to protect stretches of water in its region as it would be devastating for the local economy.

Corsican language ban stirs protest on French island
AJACCIO, Corsica, 10 March 2023 (Guardian) - A court in Corsica has prompted outrage by banning the use of the Corsican language in the island’s local parliament. The court in the city of Bastia cited France’s constitution it its ruling on Thursday that French was the only language allowed in the exercise of public office.

Landmark gang-busting trial in Jamaica
KINGSTON, Jamaica, 9 March 2023 (Guardian) - Fifteen people have been convicted on charges ranging from gang membership and gun possession to murder, in a landmark gang-busting trial hailed by Jamaican authorities as a major blow to one of the island’s deadliest criminal organisations.

Europe comes to the aid of islands and mountains
PARIS, France, 10 March 2023 (France 24) - Whether they're islands, mountains or territories far from the mainland, such areas are considered by the EU to be regions with a strong natural geographical handicap. The EU's cohesion policy, with its powerful budget, gives these regions substantial resources to help them try to catch up with metropolitan areas. The Europe Now team travels to the French overseas department of Guadeloupe to take a closer look.

New idea for sucking up CO2 from air shows promise
LONDON, UK, 9 March 2023 (BBC) - While the world has struggled to limit and reduce emissions of carbon dioxide in recent decades, several companies have instead focussed on developing technology to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Climeworks in Switzerland is perhaps the best known. Over the past ten years it has developed machines to suck in the air from the atmosphere that filter and trap the carbon dioxide molecules. At its plant in Iceland the captured CO2 is injected deep underground where it is permanently turned into stone.

Outgoing president of Micronesia accuses China of bribery
LONDON, UK, 10 March 2023 (Guardian) - China is engaged in “political warfare” in the Pacific, the outgoing president of the Federated States of Micronesia has alleged in an excoriating letter, accusing Beijing officials of bribing elected officials in Micronesia, and even “direct threats against my personal safety”.

Biden budget includes billions for Pacific islands
LONDON, UK, 10 March 2023 (Guardian) - Alarmed by China’s success in wooing Pacific island nations, the Biden administration is proposing to spend billions from its federal budget in assistance for the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau to counter China’s influence.

Insular dwarfs and giants more likely to go extinct
LEIPZIG, Germany, 9 March 2023 (Phys.org) - Islands are "laboratories of evolution" and home to animal species with many unique features, including dwarfs that evolved to very small sizes compared to their mainland relatives, and giants that evolved to large sizes. A team of researchers has now found that species that evolved to more extreme body sizes compared to their mainland relatives have a higher risk of extinction than those that evolved to less extreme sizes.

Irish skipper fears for future of local islands
SKIBBEREEN, Ireland, 10 March 2023 (SS) - A skipper from Cape Clear said he fears for the future of West Cork’s islands if the government doesn’t rethink its current decommissioning strategy. He proposes a pilot programme that would encourage and support fishing with hooks and lines for salmon, bluefin tuna, pollack and mackerel suggesting it could operate successfully if each island community were to be allowed ‘a small quota to get traditional fishing restarted.’

Tiny Baltic island finds itself 'a pawn' in Nord Stream gas drama
CHRISTIANSO, Denmark, 9 March 2023 (Reuters) - Inhabitants of the tiny island of Christiansö in the Baltic Sea found themselves in the glare of global media attention this week after reports alleging a boat moored off the rocky outcrop was used to blow up the Nord Stream gas pipelines.

Fiji prosecutors to charge former PM with abuse of office
LONDON, UK, 9 March 2023 (Guardian) - Fijian prosecutors are set to charge former prime minister Frank Bainimarama with abuse of office, the country’s top prosecutor has said, a day after he resigned from the Pacific country's parliament and weeks after he was suspended from the assembly for sedition.

When an oil spill hits an island - in pictures
LONDON, UK, 9 March 2023 (Guardian) - Last month’s sinking of the oil tanker MT Princes Empress off the coast of Mindoro island in the Philippines has forced the area into a state of emergency, disrupting the marine environment, businesses and more than 15,000 fishers.

Why Macquarie Island deserves a bigger marine park
SYDNEY, Australia, 9 March 2023 (Conversation) - Macquarie Island, around 1,500km southeast of Tasmania, is more than just a remote rocky outcrop. In fact, it’s the only piece of land on the planet formed completely from ocean floor, which rises above the waves to form peaks that teem with penguins and other bird species, some of them found nowhere else on Earth. These are just some of the reasons why this unique island, and the seas that surround it, have globally significant conservation values. 

Swarm of quakes at Alaska volcano could mean eruption coming
ANCHORAGE, Alaska, 8 March 2023 (AP) - The volcano is on an uninhabited island in the western Aleutians, about 1,250 miles southwest of Anchorage. There are no communities or structures there, but Adak, a city of about 170 residents on another island, is about 65 miles away and could see ashfall.

Activists push for ban on using human contraceptive jabs on animals
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, 8 March 2023 (Mongabay) - Sri Lankan authorities are considering banning the use of a human contraceptive injection for animals backed by calls from animal rights activists and vets, after a state-sanctioned chemical sterilization program drew serious criticism.

Indonesia's new capital takes shape
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 8 March 2023 (Mongabay) - Indonesia’s plan to build its new capital city on an expiring logging concession in eastern Borneo has sparked concerns among environmental and human rights observers about the larger eco-social impacts to the rest of the island.

Indonesia's mangrove restoration will run out of land short of target
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 9 March 2023 (Mongabay) - The Indonesian government’s mangrove restoration plan faces a major hurdle, according to a new study: less than a third of the target area is actually viable for restoration.

Indonesia aims to use gas in foreign-funded energy transition
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 9 March 2023 (Mongabay) - Indonesia plans to convert its diesel fuel-fired power plants to gas-fired power plants starting this year as a part of its energy transition program. The plan has been lambasted by activists, who see the gas conversion project as a false solution to climate change due to methane emissions that come from leakage during the transportation of gas.

Vanuatu twin cyclone disaster cost
WELLINGTON, New Zealand, 9 March 2023 (RNZ) - The initial estimate of the recovery cost following Vanuatu's twin cyclone disaster is estimated at six billion vatu, or just under $US50 million. 

Mallorca: Holiday prices to surge by a third
LONDON, UK, 7 March 2023 (EN) - Holidays to Mallorca are about to become a third more expensive, a tourism body has warned, as the island seeks to limit ‘budget tourists from the UK.’ The clampdown coincides with similar initiatives by other Spanish holiday hotspots. Last week, Lanzarote declared itself a “tourist-saturated area” and announced plans to limit the number of UK visitors it receives.

Will new bottom trawling rules do enough to protect seamounts?
SAN FRANCISCO, US, 7 March 2023 (Mongabay) - Environmental advocates have long called for a ban on bottom trwaling on seamounts n the South Pacific’s international waters, and they hoped one would finally be instituted at a regional meeting in Manta, Ecuador, in February. But the trawling, which has declined in scale over the last decade, will be permitted to go on.

Oceans littered with 171 trillion plastic pieces
LONDON, UK, 8 March 2023 (BBC) - More than 171 trillion pieces of plastic are now estimated to be floating in the world's oceans. To produce this new estimate, a group of scientists analysed records starting in 1979 and added recent data collected on expeditions that trawl the seas with nets to collect plastics.

The Cameroonian migrants stranded on Antigua
ST. JOHN'S, Antigua, 7 March 2023 (BBC) - More than 600 desperate Cameroonian migrants have found themselves stranded on a tiny island of 94,000 people in the Eastern Caribbean via what appears to have been an unscrupulous people-smuggling operation. Some forked out as much as $6,000 on charter flights marketed on social media by bogus tour companies pledging to organise immigration logistics as part of the package.

The creeping threat of the Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt
LONDON, UK, 7 March 2023 (Guardian) - Vast fields of sargassum, a brown seaweed, have bloomed in the Atlantic Ocean. Fed by human activity such as intensive soya farming in the Congo, the Amazon and the Mississippi, which dumps nitrogen and phosphorus into the ocean, the sargassum explosion is by far the biggest seaweed bloom on the planet. The Great Atlantic Sargassum Belt, as it’s known, is visible from space, stretching like a sea monster across the ocean, with its nose in the Gulf of Mexico and its tail in the mouth of the Congo.

Jamaica's innovative approach to mental healthcare
KINGSTON, Jamaica, 7 March 2023 (Guardian) - "JamaiCAN,” reads a mural at one of the entrance gates to Bellevue, Jamaica’s only psychiatric hospital. The name of the old powder-pink building near Kingston’s upmarket waterfront is recognisable to any Jamaican and is shrouded in stigma.

How a rabbit god became an icon for Taiwan's gay community
TAIPEI, Taiwan, 7 March 2023 (Guardian) - During a quiet mid-week afternoon on the eighth floor of an office building, A-wei is meditatively separating flower petals to make an offering to Tu’er Shen the rabbit god, a spiritual guardian of LGBTQI people. The small Taoist temple where 24-year-old A-wei sits is a humble room with views across New Taipei city, made cosy by the smell of incense and the mews of two noisy cats.

A guide to Japan's art islands: Naoshima, Teshima and Inujima
HONG KONG, 7 March 2023 (Tattler) - From a post-industrial wasteland to an art-filled utopia, the story of Japan’s art islands in the Seto Inland Sea is one of redemption. There are three islands to be exact: Naoshima, Teshima and Inujima, all of which were on the brink of being damaged beyond repair until Japanese billionaire Soichiro Fukutake stepped in. Naoshima and Inujima were left barren from a booming but destructive copper smelting industry, while Teshima was buried under nearly a million tonnes of illegally dumped toxic waste.

Hitachi Energy Faroe Islands BESS project completed
LONDON, UK, 6 March 2023 (ES) - Hitachi Energy has installed a 6.25MW/7.5MWh battery energy storage system (BESS) in the Faroe Islands for utility SEV, with substantial benefits to a connected wind farm. 

Sri Lanka president says China agrees to restructure loans
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, 7 March 2023 (AFP) - Sri Lanka's president says that China had agreed to restructure its loans to the bankrupt island nation, clearing the final obstacle to a long-awaited International Monetary Fund bailout. An unprecedented economic crisis has seen Sri Lanka's 22 million people suffer acute food, fuel and medicine shortages, along with extended blackouts and runaway inflation.

China-funded bridge threatens Paradise Reef in Philippines
SAMAL ISLAND, Philippines, 7 March 2023 (Mongabay) - Samal Island, a popular tourist destination near Davao City in the southern Philippines, is fringed by a 300-meter (980-foot) coral system known as Paradise Reef, which hosts more than 100 coral species. A plan to build a bridge linking Davao to Samal threatens to destroy the reef, scientists and conservationists warn.

Conservationists decry palm oil giants exit from HCSA
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 7 March 2023 (Mongabay) - Two major palm oil companies recently exited a committee, called the High Carbon Stock Approach (HCSA), that helps identify forest areas for protection, bringing the total number of firms quitting the framework since 2000 to four. 

The island paradise held prisoner by heroin
VICTORIA, Seychelles, 6 March 2023 (BBC) - Some 10% of the local population in the tropical island nation of Seychelles is dependent on heroin in what is now an epidemic, according to the country's government. Even being locked away offers no protection for those dependent on the drug. 

Philippine officials believe they have located leaking oil tanker
LONDON, UK, 6 March 2023 (Guardian) - Officials in the Philippines believe they have located a leaking oil tanker that sank last week and has since coated nearby shorelines in thick sludge, threatening areas of rich marine biodiversity.

Philippines jeepney drivers start strike
BANGKOK, Thailand, 6 March 2023 (Guardian) - A week-long strike by drivers of Philippine jeepneys began on Monday, prompting schools and universities across major cities to suspend in-person classes, while businesses have also been urged to work from home. The government says the vehicles are environmentally damaging and wants to replace them with more modern alternatives.

Antarctic sea ice reaches lowest levels ever recorded
LONDON, UK, 4 March 2023 (Guardian) - For 44 years, satellites have helped scientists track how much ice is floating on the ocean around Antarctica’s 18,000km coastline. But across those four decades of satellite observations, there has never been less ice around the continent than there was last week. With the continent holding enough ice to raise sea levels by many metres if it was to melt, polar scientists are scrambling for answers.

Indigenous youths keep ancient forestry traditions alive
MANILA, Philippines, 6 March 2023 (Mongabay) - In the southern Philippines’ Misamis Oriental province, Indigenous Higaonon practice a forest management tradition known as panlaoy that requires immersion in the forest, with participants observing, documenting and assessing the condition of the ecosystem and any threats to it.

Resistance to mega-tourism is rising in the South Pacific
PALMERSTON NORTH, New Zealand, 6 March 2023 (Conversation) - With COVID-19 travel restrictions largely a thing of the past for Australian and New Zealand tourists, Pacific destinations are enjoying the return of visitors – albeit at a slower pace than in other parts of the world. But this isn’t a simple case of returning to normal. The past three years have allowed time for reflection, leading to a rising awareness of possible alternatives to pre-pandemic tourism models.

No, the Fukushima water release is not going to kill the Pacific Ocean
PERTH, Australia, 5 March 2023 (Conversation) - Japanese authorities are preparing to release treated radioactive wastewater into the Pacific Ocean, nearly 12 years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. This will relieve pressure on more than 1,000 storage tanks, creating much-needed space for other vital remediation works. But the plan has attracted controversy.

Historic deal to protect international waters finally reached at UN
NEW YORK, US, 5 March 2023 (Guardian) - It has been almost two decades in the making but on Saturday night in New York, after days of gruelling round-the-clock talks, UN member states finally agreed on a treaty to protect the high seas. Covering almost two-thirds of the ocean that lies outside national boundaries, the treaty will provide a legal framework for establishing vast marine protected areas (MPAs) to protect against the loss of wildlife and share out the genetic resources of the high seas. 

US, EU pledge billions in aid at Our Ocean conference
PANAMA CITY, 3 March 2023 (AFP) - The former secretary of state announced US commitments of nearly $6 billion across 77 projects to protect the high seas in 2023, including technical cooperation to facilitate "green shipping corridors". In a similar spirit, the European Union announced it would dedicate 816.5 million euros ($865 million) to ocean-related projects this year.

The children left behind as wave of Cuban emigration swells
HAVANA, Cuba, 4 March 2023 (BBC) - Cuba is experiencing a mass exodus. A political and economic crisis further worsened by the impact of the Covid pandemic has left many Cubans feeling that they have no option but to leave their homeland to search for better opportunities abroad. Young Cubans, and young professionals in particular, are emigrating in their droves.

Corruption in the Caribbean has become normalised
LONDON, UK, 4 March 2023 (Guardian) - The focus is often on rich countries when it comes to corruption initiatives but the situation is so embedded in these islands that it demands greater attention. 

Philippines oil tanker spill prompts fears for MPAs
BANGKOK, Thailand, 3 March 2023 (Guardian) - Authorities in the Philippines are scrambling to contain an oil leak from a sunken tanker that could threaten the rich biodiversity of more than 20 marine protected areas.

New disease caused by plastics discovered in seabirds
LONDON, UK, 3 March 2023 (Guardian) - A new disease caused solely by plastics has been discovered in seabirds. The birds identified as having the disease, named plasticosis, have scarred digestive tracts from ingesting waste, say scientists at the Natural History Museum in London who studied flesh-footed shearwaters from Australia’s Lord Howe Island to look at the relationship between levels of ingested plastic and the proventriculus organ – the first part of a bird’s stomach.

Crucial high seas treaty stuck over sharing of genetic resources
NEW YORK, US, 3 March 2023 (Guardian) - As UN member states gathering in New York this week to finally knock out a long-awaited treaty on the high seas announced “significant progress” with just one day left in the talks, a main stumbling block remained: how to fairly share “marine genetic resources” (MGR) and the eventual profits.

Aid groups may have to cut back services in Haiti as violence grows
LONDON, UK, 3 March 2023 (Guardian) - Expecting to see another burn or trauma patient, the security guard at Médecins Sans Frontières’ (MSF) hospital in Tabarre, Port-au-Prince, peered into the window of the car at the front gate. Inside were two men, their heads covered by hoods, pointing automatic rifles at him. When he refused to let them in, one of the gunmen scaled the compound wall.

Rare Peruvian seabird nests on island freed of invaders
SAN FRANCISCO, US, 3 March 2023 (Mongabay) - Chanaral Island off the coast of Chile used to be a prime nesting site for the Peruvian diving petrel, but the species largely disappeared from the island after the introduction of invasive rabbits and foxes. In 2013, researchers and wildlife managers eradicated these invasive species from Chanaral, and in 2019, a team began to lure the diving petrels back to the island by creating artificial nests and playing petrel calls.

How machine learning and AWS are helping to keep rodents off a fragile California island
SEATTLE, US, 3 March 2023 (Amazon) - Concerned about rats potentially sneaking into one of California’s more delicate ecosystems, the environmental nonprofit The Nature Conservancy recently rolled out a real-time remote camera system for biosecurity on Santa Cruz Island, a mostly unpopulated 96-square-mile atoll in the Channel Islands. 

Cumberland Island erosion study funding for national seashore
SAVANNAH, US, 4 March 2023 (SMN) - The sandy beaches, expanses of marsh and wild horses on Cumberland Island draw visitors to the barrier island each summer, but as with every other beach on Georgia's coast, that beloved terrain is shifting.

Greece will allow older wind turbines installed on remote islands
ATHENS, Greece, 3 March 2023 (TNH) - Greece’s push to get away from reliance on Russian energy supplies and find alternatives to fossil fuels has led to approval for reusing wind turbines, moving them from wind farms on the mainland to remote islands.

The 'nuclear coffin' on Runit Island is still haunting the Pacific
LONDON, UK, 3 March 2023 (IFLScience) - Deep in the Pacific, on a lonely bunch of islands, there lies a “nuclear coffin" that’s been trying to contain a pit of radioactive waste since some of the first atomic bomb tests. Decades on from the blasts that tore through this idyllic pocket of the planet, the makeshift solution is starting to show its age – and has the potential to cause some real problems in the coming years. 

Vanuatu quest for ICJ climate ruling backed by 100 nations
PORT VILA, Vanuatu, 2 March 2023 (AFP) - More than 100 countries have backed a plan by Vanuatu to enlist the UN's top court in tackling climate change, after what the nation's officials on Thursday described as a "herculean" diplomatic effort. With rising sea levels threatening its future, Vanuatu has spearheaded a drive for the court to define what legal responsibility countries have for the changing climate and its impacts.

State of emergency declared in Vanuatu
PORT VILA, Vanuatu, 4 March 2023 (Guardian) - A state of emergency was declared in Vanuatu as category 4 Cyclone Kevin brought gale-force winds and torrential rain to the Pacific nation battling its second major cyclone in a week.

Indigenous Comcaac working to preserve eelgrass in Mexico
PUNTA CHUECA, Mexico, 3 March 2023 (Mongabay) - The Infiernillo Channel, located between the Sonora coast and Tiburón Island - the largest island in Mexico and a sacred site for the Comcaac people - is a Ramsar site, meaning it’s a wetland of key global importance. It features seagrass meadows, mangrove estuaries, and small patches of coral reefs where various marine species feed.

Indonesian fisheries fee change promises more revenue
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 4 March 2023 (Mongabay) - Marine observers in Indonesia have warned of a potential rise in illegal and unreported fishing in the wake of a new policy for how the government collects revenue from big fishing boats.

New gecko species discovered on rugged Queensland island
LONDON, UK, 2 March 2023 (Guardian) - A new species of gecko that “looks like a little dragon”, with a beaky face and spiny leaf-shaped tail, has been discovered on an uninhabited Queensland island. 

Argentina to renew push for sovereignty over Falkland Islands
DOHA, Qatar, 2 March 2023 (Al Jazeera) - On Thursday, the Argentinian foreign ministry announced the government’s plans to revisit its claim over the Falkland Islands, known as the Islas Malvinas in Spanish. The decision effectively ends the 2016 Foradori-Duncan pact, a non-binding statement to agree to disagree on the sovereignty of the islands, in favour of improving relations on trade and security.

Irish minister tells officials to revise island-specific policy document
DUBLIN, Ireland, 3 March 2023 (The Journal) - A long-awaited government plan for island communities has been sent back to the drawing board after the minister in charge told officials to revisit the document and “firm up” its proposals. Heather Humphreys, the Minister for Rural and Community Development, said the report won’t be published until she is “satisfied that it contains credible actions that will make a difference to our island communities” living off the coast of Ireland.

SIDS fight back against nature loss, climate change
NAIROBI, Kenya, 2 March 2023 (UNEP) - Safeguarding endangered turtles in the Comoros is just one part of a gathering effort in small island developing states (SIDS) across the globe to protect and restore their unique and precious ecosystems for the benefit of both people and nature.

Unleashing the power of renewable energy for SIDS
LONDON, UK, 2 March 2023 (CS) - The Commonwealth Secretariat and Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) have launched a specialised toolkit targeted at SIDS, with the aim of generating viable business cases and strategies for clean energy investment opportunities in the power sector.

Orkney subsea power link to mainland gets go-ahead
LONDON, UK, 3 March 2023 (BBC) - A high-voltage subsea power cable to carry renewable energy from Orkney to mainland Scotland has been approved in principle by regulators. Power firm SSEN formally requested to lay the cable in 2018, but first had to demonstrate to the energy regulator Ofgem that it would be used. Orkney granted consent for six new wind farms which helped secure approval.

New Easter Island moai statue discovered in volcano crater
LONDON, UK, 2 March 2023 (Guardian) - A new moai – one of Easter Island’s iconic monolithic statues – has been found in the bed of a dry lake in a volcano crater, the Indigenous community that administers the site on the island has said.

Cocos (Keeling) Islands face uncertainty over climate change
KARRATHA, Australia, 2 March 2023 (ABC) - A low-lying island community on the frontline of climate change will not rule out taking a complaint to the United Nations, as it faces growing uncertainty over the future of life on the islands. The Shire chief executive of Cocos (Keeling) Islands said the islands already experienced regular flooding, particularly the Kampong (village) on the lower-lying Home Island - centre to the 500-strong Cocos Malay community.

Increased orangutan sightings point to growing threats to the apes
BATANG TORU, Indonesia, 1 March 2023 (Mongabay) - Villagers in the Batang Toru forest in northern Sumatra say orangutan sightings in their farms and settlements have increased recently. They attribute this to the animals being driven out of their forest habitat by ongoing construction of a hydropower plant and dam.

Mysterious songbird rediscovered in Madagascar
CAMBRIDGE, UK, 1 March 2023 (BirdLife) - An expedition in the remote rainforests of northeast Madagascar has recorded Dusky Tetraka, an endemic to the country, for the first time since 1999. It was one of the top 10 most wanted species by the Search for Lost Birds collaboration, and its rediscovery marks an important step to helping protect it.

Seychelles NGO rehabilitates Pasquiere wetland on Praslin
VICTORIA, Seychelles, 2 March 2023 (SNA) - Many opportunities exist for business, leisure, eco-tourism, education, and research at Pasquière on Praslin Island now that three hectares of wetland and two hectares of once-degraded foothill have been rehabilitated.

Recycling centre has been credited with cleaning up Bali isle
NUSA LEMBONGAN, Indonesia, 1 March 2023 (Al Jazeera) - Five years ago, the beaches on Nusa Lembongan, a paradisal island half an hour’s speedboat ride from Bali, were pockmarked with the kind of rubbish that blights large stretches of Indonesia’s most famous tourist destination. These days, Nusa Lembongan’s shorelines are squeaky clean and its once heavily-polluted river, home to an extensive system of mangroves, is pristine.

Indonesian palm oil billionaire gets 15 years for corruption
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 28 February 2023 (Mongabay) - A Jakarta court has sentenced palm oil tycoon Surya Darmadi to 15 years in prison for corruption that allowed him to establish illegal palm oil plantations in Indonesia’s Riau province. The court also ordered him to pay more than $2.7 billion in fines and restitution for the environmental and social damage caused by the illegal plantations, believed to be the costliest corruption case in Indonesia’s history.

Madagascar's extinct elephant birds
CANBERRA, Australia, 28 February 2023 (Conversation) - As a biodiversity hotspot, the island nation of Madagascar is a natural test tube for studying evolution and extinction. The numerous species of now-extinct megafauna that once roamed there play a key role in furthering our understanding of these processes.

'Doomsday' Arctic seed vault gets boost
LONDON, UK, 28 February 2023 (Reuters) - The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, built to protect the world’s food stock from disasters ranging from nuclear war to global warming, will add 19,500 rare seed variety samples from across the world to its collection on Tuesday, taking its total stash to more than 1.2 million.

Why the high seas treaty matters
LONDON, UK, 28 February 2023 (Guardian) - Almost two-thirds of the world’s ocean lies outside national boundaries. These are the “high seas”, where fragmented and loosely enforced rules have meant a vast portion of the planet, hundreds of miles from land, is often essentially lawless.

Climate crisis is driving a rise in human-wildlife conflicts
LONDON, UK, 27 February 2023 (Guardian) - New research provides a number of examples of where human-wildlife conflict is growing due to climate change. In Sumatra, forest fires after an El Niño-induced drought drove tigers and elephants into new areas, causing at least one human death. On Scottish islands, warming temperatures are driving an increase in barnacle geese, which eat grass farmers want for their livestock.

New species of tiny owl on the forested island of Principe
SAN FRANCISCO, US, 27 February 2023 (Conversation) - A team of Spanish biologists has discovered a tiny new species of owl, called the Príncipe scops owl, living in a remote forest on an island off the west coast of Africa and it’s already under threat.

Hardly any rain in nearly two years for southernmost Kiribati island
WELLINGTON, New Zealand, 28 February 2023 (RNZ) - A member of parliament for Arorae in Kiribati says the island has had almost no rain for two years. The Kiribati government in June last year declared a state of disaster, after the discovery of high salinity levels in monitoring wells and very low rainfall.

Walloped by hurricane, Cuba's tobacco sector struggles to its feet
SAN JUAN Y MARTINEZ, Cuba, 25 February 2023 (AFP) - Cuban farmer Maritza Carpio, 62, is optimistic. Five months after Hurricane Ian wreaked havoc on the island nation and its vital tobacco industry, she has started drying leaves for habano cigars again.

Win for China in its plan to turn Pacific Islands into Hong Kong
KOROR, Palau, 26 February 2023 (SG) - If you thought what Beijing did to Hong Kong was bad, wait until you see what it does to Malaita, Solomon Islands. In September 2019, the Prime Minister of Solomons, Manasseh Sogavare unilaterally switched the country’s diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China, opening the floodgates for massive PRC interference in the internal affairs of the country.

Holy Island fishing ban set to be dropped after outcry
LONDON, UK, 25 February 2023 (BBC) - Controversial plans for a fishing ban at Northumberland's Holy Island are set to be dropped, the area's MP has said. The government had been exploring designating it a Highly Protected Marine Area (HPMA), which would have seen fishing halted. But fears were voiced it would devastate the local economy.

Pacific islands tap Taiwan ally Nauru for next top diplomat
SYDNEY, Australia, 24 February 2023 (Reuters) - The top Pacific islands diplomatic post will pass to Taiwan ally Nauru next year, the 18-member regional bloc agreed Friday, as it resolved to face climate change and superpower rivalry as a united "family". The Pacific Islands Forum, meeting in Fiji, also said it would hold more talks with Japanese scientists and the International Atomic Energy Agency over Japan's plan to release treated water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea.

She's the only woman living on an island of convicted criminals
ROME, Italy, 24 February 2023 (CNN) - When Giulia Manca traveled to Pianosa, a former Italian prison island, back in 2011, she was looking forward to a relaxing sunshine break before returning home. But 12 years after checking into the beachfront Hotel Milena, which is staffed by supervised convicts on probation, Manca has remained on the island known as the Alcatraz of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

Balearics: Tourism is changing in Spain's popular islands
LONDON, UK, 23 February 2023 (LP) - The Balearic authorities have taken a pioneering role in Spain by introducing a raft of new responsible tourism measures to become 'the world's first circular destination.' The goal is to achieve a more balanced and sustainable tourism model that also protects the islands' natural environment and the needs of the local population.

Europe's islands calling for specific EU regulations for housing
PALMA, Spain, 23 February 2023 (MDB) - The Islands Commission General Assembly is currently gathered in Palma and on Wednesday resolved to request an "insularity filter" to all EU policies and to housing in particular. This filter would include regulations specifically designed for people born on the various islands.