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First Nation chiefs tell anti-logging protesters to leave their lands
LONDON, UK, 14 April 2021 (Guardian) - Two chiefs of a First Nation in western Canada have told anti-old growth logging protesters camped out on their traditional lands to pack up and go home. Operating under the banner of the Rainforest Flying Squad, a group of predominantly non-Indigenous activists have been blocking logging roads across a swath of southern Vancouver Island and calling for an immediate halt to old-growth logging since last August.

New tracking data pinpoints danger zones for Antipodean Albatross
CAMBRIDGE, UK, 13 April 2021 (BirdLife) - With its enormous wingspan and impressive long-distance flying ability, the Antipodean Albatross seems almost indestructible. But unless we act soon, this majestic ocean wanderer, which breeds on a scattering of islands off New Zealand, could be functionally extinct within 20 years as a result of shockingly high levels of fisheries-related deaths.

How Vanuatu is using cricket to change and save women's lives
LONDON, UK, 13 April 2021 (BBC) - Rachel Andrew is one of the leading cricketers in Vanuatu. She has scored more runs for the women's national team than anyone else and averages an impressive 11.50 with the ball. Cricket is her passion and the women's T20 team ranks 28th in the world, making it probably the country's most successful sporting side.

Indonesia's net-zero emissions goal not ambitious enough
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 12 April 2021 (Mongabay) - Indonesia, one of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters, has put forward a plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2070. The government says it’s the most ambitious and realistic target for Indonesia, but activists and experts say the government can do much more, much sooner, given that China, the top emitter, has a net-zero deadline of 2060.

Leatherback turtles under threat in Little Andamans
PUNE, India, 12 April 2021 (Mongabay) - Proposed development of the Little Andaman islands, if implemented, will pose a threat to nesting sites of the leatherback turtle.

Farmers move to occupy a critical elephant corridor in Sri Lanka
UDAWALAWE, Sri Lanka, 13 April 2021 (Mongabay) - Earlier this month, more than 300 people gathered near the borders of the Dahaiyagala Wildlife Sanctuary in Sri Lanka’s Uva province armed with axes, long knives, ropes and handheld hoes called mamoties. Their apparent intention: Take control of sanctuary lands and expand their farms.

Papua deforestation threatens Indonesia's climate progress
WELLINGTON, New Zealand, 13 April 2021 (RNZ) - Greenpeace has warned that left unchecked, forest clearance in West Papua could undo Indonesia's progress in tackling climate change.

Taiwan: Record number of Chinese military jets enter air zone
LONDON, UK, 13 April 2021 (BBC) - The Taiwan defence ministry said 25 aircraft including fighters and nuclear-capable bombers entered its so-called air defence identification zone (ADIZ) on Monday. The incursion is the largest in a year and comes as the US warns against an "increasingly aggressive China".

St Vincent volcano eruptions likely in coming days
LONDON, UK, 12 April 2021 (BBC) - The Caribbean island of St Vincent is likely to see further volcanic eruptions and ash fall over the coming days, experts have warned. The La Soufrière volcano first erupted on Friday, blanketing the island in a layer of ash and forcing more than 16,000 people to evacuate their homes.

Police warn of 'all-out war' as tribal violence in PNG kills 19
LONDON, UK, 12 April 2021 (Guardian) - Police are warning a “all-out war” could erupt in Eastern Highlands province in Papua New Guinea, after 19 people were killed in tribal violence late last week. The fighting, between the Agarabi and Tapo clans, was over a land ownership dispute. 

How sea cucumbers became gold for organised crime
LONDON, UK, 12 April 2021 (Guardian) - It’s after sunset in Jaffna when Anthony Vigrado dives into the waters of Palk Bay, scanning the seafloor to collect what seems to be prized treasure. What he comes back with are sea cucumbers – long, leathery-skinned creatures that are increasingly valuable and the source of his income for the past 12 years.

Preparing for rising seas in the Maldives
WASHINGTON, US, 11 April 2021 (SciTechDaily) - While the Maldives government has explored plans to purchase land on higher ground in other countries as an insurance policy against sea level rise, planners are also working to enhance the resilience of the country’s current islands. One example is Hulhumale, a newly constructed artificial island northeast of the capital, Male.

SIDS need urgent support to avoid debt defaults
GENEVA, Switzerland, 12 April 2021 (UNCTAD) - Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, many small island developing states (SIDS) were already showing signs of increased debt distress – where debt servicing burdens, current account deficits and elevated levels of public debt viciously feed off each other. The economic fallout from the pandemic is expected to aggravate these hardships, and a wave of sovereign defaults is now looming.

Tasmanian project that could become a national park test case
LONDON, UK, 10 April 2021 (Guardian) - Halls Island, on Lake Malbena in the Walls of Jerusalem national park, is not easy to reach. It takes a strenuous eight-hour walk or a helicopter ride to get there. Its remoteness meant it was relatively little known until it became the site of the type of conservation battle that Tasmania has become famous for in a storied history that takes in fights over hydroelectricity dams. old-growth forestry and salmon farming.

How Andaman and Nicobar Islands are losing green protection
NEW DELHI, India, 9 April 2021 (IndiaSpend) - The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are often pictured as a lush, tropical tourist paradise. But recent government moves may strip the protections that the ecologically and ethnically significant archipelago enjoys, in order to make way for big business, shipping and tourism projects.

Death of Prince Philip will be met with 'ritual wailing' on island
NEW YORK, US. 9 April 2021 (NYP) - The death of Prince Philip is certain to be met with great grief and much “ritual wailing” by villagers on a tiny island in the South Pacific - where they worship him like a god.  Some 700 villagers on the island of Tanna ascribe to the so-called Prince Philip Movement, believing he was the son of a mountain deity who would one day return to “heal the land.”

European tuna boats dump fishing debris in Seychelles waters
SAN FRANCISCO, US, 9 April 2021 (Mongabay) - Tuna love to congregate around objects adrift at sea, so industrial fishing vessels release thousands of man-made plastic-heavy fish aggregating devices (FADs) into the sea every year to round up the tuna.

Predatory European ships help push Indian Ocean tuna to the brink
SAN FRANCISCO, US, 8 April 2021 (Mongabay) - The Indian Ocean yellowfin tuna stock is teetering on the verge of collapse and some experts say the EU, which has profited the most from the fishery over decades, should do more to save it.

Greenland's new leadership will be challenged by independence push
COPENHAGEN, Denmark, 9 April 2021 (Arctic Today) - Earlier this week, Greenlanders elected a new parliament with a majority from the center-left Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) party. It’s only the second time in the 40 years since Greenland attained self-rule that IA will head a governing coalition, rather than their main rival Siumut.

Fiji reef battle case has been described as a 'watershed' moment
LONDON, UK, 9 April 2021 (Guardian) - A years-long David and Goliath fight which has seen two Australian surfers take on a Chinese-linked company over their alleged damage of an idyllic Fijian island, has come to its conclusion after a Fijian court handed down a guilty verdict against the developers on Friday.

St Vincent rocked by explosive eruption of La Soufriere volcano
LONDON, UK, 9 April 2021 (Guardian) - The Caribbean island of St Vincent has been rocked by an explosive eruption of La Soufrière volcano, a day after the island declared a red alert and issued an evacuation order.

Activists blockade Vancouver Island in bid to save ancient trees
LONDON, UK, 9 April 2021 (Guardian) - Hundreds of activists are digging in at logging road blockades across a swath of southern Vancouver Island, vowing to stay as long as it takes to pressure the provincial government to immediately halt cutting of what they say is the last 3% of giant old growth trees left in the province.

Unique island species at risk if global heating hits 3C
LONDON, UK, 9 April 2021 (Guardian) - Lemurs and the Galapagos giant tortoise could be at high risk of extinction if the planet warms by more than 3C above pre-industrial levels, new research warns. The theory behind the projection is that endemic species often thrive in ecological niches, but their restricted range means they are less able to move as the environment changes, making them more vulnerable to climate change. Island species are particularly at risk because they have high levels of endemicity and small population sizes living in a relatively small range.

Samoa's ruling party faces strongest election challenge in 20 years
LONDON, UK, 7 April 2021 (Guardian) - After 22 years in the top job, Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele Malielegaoi is the second-longest serving prime minister in the world (second to Cambodia’s Hun Sen at 36 years). But his Human Rights Protection party (HRPP) faces a formidable challenge at the polls as he faces off against his former deputy prime minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa, daughter of Samoa’s first prime minister and the leader of Fa’atuatua i le Atua Samoa ua Tasi (Fast).

Indonesia's climate villages where communities work together
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 7 April 2021 (IPS) - Residents of Ngadirejo village in Sukaharjo regency, Central Java province, had often found themselves helpless when their wells dried up or water flooded through their homes. But thanks to a national campaign called Program Kampung Iklim, known by its acronym ProKlim, they now have solutions to this flooding that generally occurs because of a lack of adequate water catchments.

Alaska Native fishers square off against industrial fleets
WASHINGTON, US, 7 April 2021 (NatGeog) - The small fishing fleet from St. Paul,  a tiny island of 500 souls in the middle of the Bering Sea, is losing the fight for halibut, up against factory ships that throw away more of the valuable fish than the Indigenous fishers are allowed to catch.

Greenland election: Opposition win casts doubt on mine
LONDON, UK, 7 April 2021 (BBC) - Greenland's main opposition party has won an election which could have major consequences for international interests in the Arctic.The left-wing Inuit Ataqatigiit, which opposes a mining project in southern Greenland, secured 37% of votes. Its leader said on Wednesday that the Kvanefjeld mine, home to major deposits of rare minerals, would not go ahead.

Miss Papua New Guinea stripped of her crown
PORT MORESBY, PNG, 7 April 2021 (Guardian) - Miss Papua New Guinea has been stripped of her crown after sharing a video of herself twerking on TikTok, with critics saying the incident reveals a deep-seated culture of misogyny in the country.

'Mrs Sri Lanka' beauty queen injured in on-stage bust-up
LONDON, UK, 6 April 2021 (BBC) - The winner of a major Sri Lankan beauty prize has suffered head injuries after a brawl broke out on stage. Beauty queen Pushpika De Silva won the "Mrs Sri Lanka" title at a ceremony on national TV on Sunday. Moments later, the 2019 winner seized Mrs De Silva's crown, claiming she could not be awarded the title because she was divorced.

Daunting cleanup follows Timor-Leste floods
DILI, Timor-Leste, 7 April 2021 (Guardian) - In Tasitolu, a suburb in the west of the capital, Dili, Batista Elo balances his young daughter on his hip as he stands in flood waters that reach up his thighs. Batista is one of thousands who have been left homeless in Timor-Leste and neighbouring Indonesia after a tropical cyclone battered the south-east Asian nations over the weekend.

Threatened species thrive in protected Australian reef
LONDON, UK, 7 April 2021 (Guardian) - What would a tropical reef look like if it could escape the man-made perils of global heating and overfishing? A new study suggests it would look like Rowley Shoals, an isolated archipelago of reefs 260km off Australia’s north-west coast.

Japan sends first-ever aid to Andaman and Nicobar Islands
NEW YORK, US, 7 April 2021 (Nikkei) - Submarines are almost impossible to detect on the open sea unless they are monitored from the time they leave harbor. For militaries tracking Chinese submarines, one important opportunity to track the secretive vessels is when they pass through the Malacca Strait, moving from the South China Sea into the Indian Ocean.

Taiwan deploys rockets to South China Sea islands
TAIPEI, Taiwan, 7 April 2021 (TN) - Taiwan has deployed a total of 292 Kestrel anti-armor rockets to its Dongsha and Taiping islands in the South China Sea in response to China’s military ambitions to invade and occupy them. Since 2000, Taiwan’s Coast Guard Administration has taken over the defense of the two islands. Currently, over 200 Coast Guard personnel trained by the Marine Corps are stationed at either island.

Ongoing restoration project on Terrebonne barrier islands
LAFAYETTE, US, 5 April 2021 (KATC) - State and local officials toured ongoing construction activities on Trinity-East Island in the Terrebonne Basin. The island is one of three three barrier islands being restored under a  Beach Nourishment project using $167 million in funds from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Trust.

Pivot to plantations may be too late for nearly extinct parrots
HOBART, Australia, 5 April 2021 (Mongabay) - Critically endangered swift parrots are threatened by ongoing deforestation in Tasmania, with recent estimates suggesting there may be fewer than 300 left in the wild. Under legal agreements between state and federal governments, forestry operations are exempt from seeking federal environmental approvals in Australia, unlike other industries.

Palm oil waste is latest item declared non-hazardous by Indonesia
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 5 April 2021 (Mongabay) - A powdered clay used to clarify palm oil has been removed from Indonesia’s list of hazardous wastes, prompting warnings from environmental activists about an increase in dumping of untreated waste.

Java's mangroves pay a high price for stopping plastic
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 5 April 2021 (Mongabay) - Mangroves are known to trap plastic waste and stop it entering the sea, but this defense comes at a high cost to mangrove forests themselves, a new study shows.

Create national parks around UK coastline, conservation group says
LONDON, UK, 5 April 2021 (Guardian) - Blue Marine Foundation has identified 10 areas around the UK coast that it said could be designated national parks within the next 10 years. Designation could bring greater protections for habitats, help attract funding, and would require local authorities to make access easier for people.

Islanders rally to save world's biggest seed
LONDON, UK, 5 April 2021 (Guardian) - The coco de mer is a much-loved cultural and botanical icon of the Seychelles,” says Katy Beaver, a plant expert on the islands who has been studying the rare palm for many years.

Companies back moratorium on deep sea mining
LONDON, UK, 3 April 2021 (BBC) - A long-running dispute over plans to start mining the ocean floor has suddenly flared up. For years it was only environmental groups that objected to the idea of digging up metals from the deep sea. But now BMW, Volvo, Google and Samsung are lending their weight to calls for a moratorium on the proposals.

First Pacific islander to reach ocean's deepest point
LONDON, UK, 3 April 2021 (Guardian) - It is a place that has been visited by fewer people than have flown to the moon – pitch black, 11km down, the last frontier. Last month, Nicole Yamase from the Federated States of Micronesia became the first Pacific Islander, the third woman, and, at 29, the second-youngest person to visit Challenger Deep, the deepest known part of the Mariana Trench.

Underwater CCTV to protect Pitcairn Islands ocean sanctuary
WELLINGTON, New Zealand, 3 April 2021 (Stuff) - A new network of underwater cameras will put the Pitcairn Islands waters under constant surveillance. It’s part of an effort to protect an 834,000 sq km marine reserve established around the four islands that make up the group. The cameras will make up part of the world’s largest ocean wildlife monitoring system to help protect life below water.

Marine Protected Area expansion in the Cayman Islands
ROSS-ON-WYE, UK, 1 April 2021 (MCS) - The Cayman Islands Department of Environment, with help from the UK government’s Darwin Initiative, first started talking with local communities about expanding its existing MPA network over a decade ago. And despite various threats to their ambition (including a global pandemic), as well changes of government, the new enhanced MPA network they championed has finally come into force this month.

Famed garment factory paying a living wage struggles to stay afloat
LONDON, UK, 2 April 2021 (Guardian) - Workers were furloughed without pay amid the pandemic at the Dominican garment factory, the only one in the developing world that pays a living wage.

Experts make new discoveries about Philippine crocodiles
MISAMIS ORIENTAL, Philippines, 2 April 2021 (Mongabay) - Crocodile experts in the Philippines have discovered new habits among the critically endangered Philippine crocodile that could help them better understand how to protect and repopulate the species in the wild. 

Venice bans cruise ships from historic centre
LONDON, UK, 1 April 2021 BBC) - Italian ministers have agreed that large cruise and container ships would no longer be able to enter the city's Giudecca canal, which leads to the historic St Mark's Square. They will now have to dock at the city's industrial port until a permanent solution is found.

The female farmers of the Accompong Maroons
FALMOUTH, Jamaica, 31 March 2021 (Forbes) - The Maroon nation of Accompong in the mountains of Cockpit country in St. Elizabeth Jamaica is an agriculturally based state with a population of approximately 1000 residents, some 600 of whom are women, primarily entrepreneurs, and about a quarter of whom are farmers. 

How Jamaica is rebuilding its economy using sustainable bamboo
WESTMORELAND, Jamaica, 31 March 2021 (Forbes) - When David Stedeford, a UK-born paper-manufacturer vacationed with his family in Jamaica several years ago, his expert eye quickly noticed the agricultural potential of the land he saw.

Cyclone season awaits thousands of Rohingya on Bangladesh island
BHASHAN CHAR, Bangladesh, 1 April 2021 (Al Jazeera) - With the Bangladesh navy putting the finishing touches to a 5.75-metre-high (19-foot) storm wall around Bhashan Char, authorities have delayed the departure of 4,200 of the Muslim minority to the island this week because of bad weather.

Should the 2021 Climate Summit in Glasgow still take place?
NEW YORK, US, 1 April 2021 (IPS) - With uncertainties over face-to-face meetings resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the authors consider the case for postponing the Climate Summit in Glasgow again and ask how, if it does proceed, we can improve its chances of success?

Russia stages fresh military drills in the Arctic
MOSCOW, Russia, 30 March 2021 (AFP) - The Russian military have launched massive Arctic manoeuvres near Alexandra Land, part of the Franz Josef Land archipelago, that are expected to include more than 40 separate drills.

Businesses drive disappearance of a Madagascar wetland
LAKE ALAOTRA, Madagascar, 31 March 2021 (Mongabay) - Lake Alaotra and its surrounding marshes are Madagascar’s largest wetland, a Ramsar Site that is home to globally significant biodiversity. Despite layers of legal protection and conservation programming, around 850 hectares (2,100 acres) of marsh disappear each year to make way for rice cultivation, much of it perpetrated by businesses.

Palau to welcome first tourists in a year with presidential escort
KOROR, Palau, 31 March 2021 (Guardian) - On Thursday, 110 people from Taiwan will be able to enjoy the thing so many around the world have been dreaming of since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic: an international holiday to a tropical island paradise.

Legal, strategic framework being developed for Seychelles MPAs
VICTORIA, Seychelles, 31 March 2021 (SNA) - One year after Seychelles legally designated 30 percent of its territorial waters as marine protected areas 10 years ahead of international targets, efforts are now underway to develop a legal and strategic framework as well as a management plan for each of these sites. 

Informed impact in Pacific with accessible environmental data
APIA, Samoa, 31 March 2021 (SPREP) - Support for informed decision making when it comes to our environment, grows across the Pacific islands through the Inform Project.  It has helped Pacific islands to access their national environmental data sets to ensure data-drive and support decision making.

Surge in seizures of giant clam shells from the Philippines
PALAWAN, Philippines, 29 March 2021 (Mongabay) - In a span of six months, Philippine environmental authorities have seized 150 tons of giant clam shells from a string of operations across the island province of Palawan, suggesting a resurgence in the illegal trade of the “jade of the sea” for the Chinese engraving market.

Efforts to protect seabirds on Seychelles Aride island are increased
VICTORIA, Seychelles, 30 March 2021 (SNA) - More anti-poaching patrols are taking place on Aride island and its surrounding waters through an agreement between the Island Conservation Society and the Seychelles Coast Guard.

Weeding out invasive species across the Pacific
APIA, Samoa, 30 March 2021 (SPREP) - Invasive species are the leading driver of biodiversity loss in the Pacific, negatively impacting on ecosystem resilience, ecosystem services, human health and the ability to adapt to climate change. Invasive weeds pose a threat to Pacific economies and ecosystems - be they the African tulip tree, Singapore daisy, lantana, or merremia vine.  

Deep sea mining is not needed, not wanted, not consented!
SUVA, Fiji, 30 March 2021 (PANG) - The Pacific draws the BLUE LINE against Deep Sea Mining. The Ocean is the living blue heart of our planet. It is our common heritage, but also our common responsibility. We are its guardians. We recognise its significance and its essence as the basis of our Pacific identity and wellbeing.

Western Isles mild oceanic climate may help ticks thrive
LONDON, UK, 29 March 2021 (BBC) - The Western Isles' mild oceanic climate could be helping a pest to survive in places where it was not previously thought to thrive. Lyme disease can be spread to humans from the bite of infected ticks. Researchers found some isles had an incidence of the disease 40 times higher than the Scottish average.

Galapagos tortoises: 185 babies seized from smugglers
LONDON, UK, 29 March 2021 (BBC) - Customs officials in Ecuador discovered 185 baby tortoises packed inside a suitcase that was being sent from the Galápagos Islands to the mainland on Sunday. The reptiles had been wrapped in plastic and were found during a routine inspection at the main airport on the island of Baltra. Ten of them had died, officials said.

Massive blaze erupts at Indonesian oil refinery
LONDON, UK, 29 March 2021 (BBC) - Firefighters in Indonesia are working to put out a massive fire that has broken out at the Balongan refinery run by state oil firm Pertamina. At least five people are injured and around 950 residents have been evacuated to safety.

PNG government official's company awarded lucrative Covid contract
PORT MORESBY, PNG, 29 March 2021 (Guardian) - A company, one of whose directors is a senior official within Papua New Guinea’s department of health was paid more than 539,000 kina (A$200,000) to provide catering including for a Covid isolation unit in the capital from May to November last year.

EU announces funding for five new refugee camps on Greek islands
LESBOS, Greece, 29 March 2021 (Guardian) - The EU is to give Greece funding to build five new refuge camps on the Aegean islands. Ylva Johansson, the EU home affairs commissioner, visited Lesbos and Samos on Monday to announce that the EU would provide €250m of funding (£213m) for five new structures on the islands of Lesbos, Samos, Chios, Kos and Leros.

Wary of Beijing, Taiwan doubles down on South China Sea island
TAIPEI, Taiwan, 29 March 2021 (VOA) - Taiwan’s military has stepped up training of troops and added defensive weaponry on the contested South China Sea’s biggest natural island to prepare for any attack by Beijing, analysts believe.   

African swine fever rips through parts of southern Indonesia
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 29 March 2021 (Mongabay) - An outbreak of African swine fever has flared up in the Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara killing tens of thousands of pigs. The island of Flores, famous for its Komodo dragons, is particularly hard hit, with a single district there losing up to 40% of its pigs.

Military cleanup in Puerto Rico islands slow-going
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, 28 March 2021 (AP) - The reopening of hiking trails and various white-sand beaches on two tiny Puerto Rican islands long used as Navy bombing ranges and now popular with tourists will be delayed more than a decade, according to a federal report.

Chinese fishing fleet anchored on Philippine reef raises tensions
MANILA, Philippines, 26 March 2021 (Mongabay) - The Philippines is protesting the presence of more than 200 Chinese fishing vessels anchored at Whitsun Reef, a shallow coral region located 175 nautical miles (324 kilometers) west of the town of Bataraza in Palawan province. In addition to invoking sovereignty issues, the ships’ presence at the reef has raised fears that China may be targeting the reef for island-building activities to strengthen its claim to disputed territories in the South China Sea.

Patagonia's blue whales besieged by hundreds of boats
SAN FRANCISCO, US, 26 March 2021 (Mongabay) - Chonos Archipelago in Chilean Patagonia features more than 40,000 islands and 103,000 kilometers (64,000 miles) of coastline, with a huge ecological and cultural wealth that encompasses more than a third of the country. Blue whales feeding in this region have to dodge hundreds of vessels daily, most of them serving the area’s salmon farms.

Welsh rabbits serve up prehistoric finds on tiny Skokholm Island
LONDON, UK, 25 March 2021 (Guardian) - Fresh insights into a remote Welsh island’s ancient past have emerged thanks to the efforts of burrowing rabbits – and the sharp eyesight of two nature wardens. The bunnies on Skokholm Island, which lies in the Celtic Sea, two miles off the coast of Pembrokeshire, kicked up two pebbles and some shards of pottery as they dug out a new home.

Digoel Agri said to clear Papuan forest without Indigenous consent
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 25 March 2021 (Mongabay) - After halting forest-clearing operations in 2020, the Digoel Agri palm oil conglomerate has apparently restarted its activities in Indonesia’s Papua province, raising alarms among local Indigenous communities who say they never agreed to its presence on their ancestral lands.

Pacific call for global ban on deep sea mining
WELLINGTON, New Zealand, 26 March 2021 (RNZ) - A widespread Pacific civil society call for a global ban on deep sea mining activity has been launched. The Pacific Regional NGO Alliance of church and civil society groups kickstarted their campaign to stop deep sea mining yesterday in Fiji. However, a number of Pacific governments including the Cook Islands and Nauru have backed exploration activities by companies spearheading the embryonic deepsea mining sector.

Gibraltar looks to post-Covid era as vaccine drive nears completion
LONDON, UK, 26 March 2021 (Guardian) - Operation Freedom, the name given to Gibraltar’s vaccination programme, is now closing in on its target: in the coming days the British overseas territory will become one of the first places in the world where every willing resident over the age of 16 has been fully vaccinated.

Comoros achieve fairytale Nations Cup qualification
LONDON, UK, 25 March 2021 (BBC) - Comoros made history on Thursday when drawing 0-0 at home to Togo to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time. The match may have been low on incident but that will matter little to the island nation of just under one million inhabitants. For they are now celebrating one of the biggest achievements of a country which has been more famous for its history of political coups and music than any sporting success.

Refinery rained oil onto Virgin Islands community that awaits cleanup
ST. CROIX, U.S. Virgin Islands, 24 March 2021 (WP) - Two hours after midnight in this island paradise, a cloudy vapor rose from a massive oil refinery and floated over nearby homes as quietly as a ghost. The vapor, caused by a pressure release valve triggered by an accident on Feb. 4, came three days after the Limetree Bay refinery reopened for the first time in nearly a decade, and the incident prompted the Biden administration to investigate.

The lost language of Easter Island
NEW YORK, US, 24 March 2021 (Atlas Obscura) - .On the outskirts of Hanga Roa, Easter Island's only town, the Museo Rapa Nui has a small but striking collection that includes a carved wooden fish in a glass cabinet. Raised on a stand, it is the color of dark chocolate and roughly the size and shape of an oar blade. The design may be relatively simple, but this object represents a great - and unsolved - linguistic puzzle.

Cook Islands-flagged tankers scrubbed for alleged sanctions-busting
RAROTONGA, Cook Islands, 23 March 2021 (Guardian) - Two tankers flying the flag of the Cook Islands have been scrubbed from the islands’ shipping registry after allegations the vessels were sanctions-busting, transporting Iranian crude oil while concealing their movements.

How Taiwan triumphed over Covid as the UK faltered
TAIPEI, Taiwan, 24 March 2021 (Guardian) - Along central Taipei’s busy Yongkang Street crowds spill out of restaurants and bars every evening, mingling with people queueing outside popular eateries for a tiny table to cram around with groups of friends. In London, it would be unthinkable. In the Taiwanese capital, it is just another spring evening.

UN resolution hailed as 'crucial turning point' for victims of civil war
LONDON, UK, 24 March 2021 (Guardian) - Civil rights groups have welcomed a UK-led UN resolution on Sri Lanka as a “crucial turning point for justice” for victims of the country’s nearly 30-year-long conflict.

Eco-tourism rethink needed for Bribie Island
BRISBANE, Australia, 24 March 2021 (ABC) - Bribie Island is the world's third-largest sand island after Fraser and Stradbroke islands. Residents have called for an urgent rethink on tourism on Bribie Island, about 50 kilometres north of Brisbane, with increased traffic clogging the bridge to the mainland and putting turtle hatchlings at risk along the beach.

In Indonesia, an illegal leopard trade thrives out of sight
SAN FRANCISCO, US, 24 March 2021 (Mongabay) - A new paper documents significant illegal trafficking of Javan leopards and Sunda clouded leopards in Indonesia. The research uncovered 41 seizure records, amounting to approximately 83 individual animals, from between 2011 to 2019. The authors say that these numbers likely represent only a fraction of the true trade.

How Sri Lankan farmers address climate threats
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, 24 March 2021 (Mongabay) - Sri Lanka’s smallholder farmers are faced with increasing risks related to the impacts of climate change, which threaten their agricultural yields and livelihoods. Risk has always been a factor for farmers, and there are many traditional methods of risk management that have been developed over generations, including cultivation techniques, crop varieties, cascade tank systems, soil management, natural insect and pest control, integrated crop-livestock systems, and livelihood diversification.

An opportunity to save a massive area of forest in West Papua
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 24 March 2021 (Mongabay) - An area of forest two and a half times the size of London sits inside oil palm concessions in Indonesia’s West Papua province but can still be spared from being cleared, a government review indicates. 

How to combat water scarcity on remote islands
BRUSSELS, Belgium, 22 March 2021 (Horizon) - Every summer, thousands of tourists travel to Greece’s idyllic islands to enjoy their sunny beaches. Even the global pandemic couldn’t keep visitors away, but water scarcity might. Many Greek islands survive on water imports and are struggling to meet residents’ and agriculture’s water needs – let alone those of tourists.

Tiwi Islands welcome the return of tourists
DARWIN, Australia, 22 March 2021 (ABC) - "COVID hasn't been very nice to us," reflects Jedda Puruntatameri, who says Tiwi Islanders "have had a lot of problems" dealing with the flow-on effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Small and Less Populous Island Economies (SALPIE) Initiative launch
WASHINGTON, US, 22 March 2021 (The White House) - Today the Biden administration launched the “Small and Less Populous Island Economies (SALPIE) Initiative,” an economic cooperation framework designed to strengthen U.S. collaboration with island countries and territories in the Caribbean, North Atlantic, and Pacific regions. 

Dominica invites remote workers to stay in Nature Island
LONDON, UK, 22 March 2021 (PR Newswire) - The Commonwealth of Dominica is inviting digital nomads and remote workers to stay on the island for an extended period under a new visa offering. The newly launched Work in Nature (WIN) Visa allows tourists to relocate to Dominica for a period of up to 18 months to work remotely and live amongst the natural beauty of the island.

Thousands of dead herring dumped off coast of Vancouver Island
VANCOUVER, Canada, 22 March 2021 (CBC) - A conservation group that's long opposed the B.C. herring fishery says it suspects a fishing vessel has dumped a load of the small fish in Deep Bay, near Bowser on Vancouver Island.

How Iceland clamped down to conquer coronavirus
REYKJAVIK, Iceland, 23 March 2021 (BBC) - Yes, Iceland is a remote island in the North Atlantic, with just one international airport. And yes, it is home to fewer than half a million people. So it would be fair to assume that it has luck to thank for becoming the first country in Europe to virtually rid itself of Covid.

Kangaroo Island fires report cites numerous deficiences
ADELAIDE, Australia, 23 March 2021 (ABC) - Resource deficiencies, communication breakdowns and insubordination within the Country Fire Service (CFS) hampered fire response efforts during last year's deadly emergency on Kangaroo Island, a review has found.

Lack of prey is causing puffin chicks to starve
OXFORD, UK, 23 March 2021 (Phys.org) - New research from the University of Oxford's Department of Zoology has used innovative technology to study causes of declines in puffin populations in the northeast Atlantic, and found that a lack of prey near some major breeding colonies is driving puffin chicks to starve, ultimately leading to population declines.

Pulp and paper firms stoke demand that may drive deforestation
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 23 March 2021 (Mongabay) - Pulp and paper companies are expanding in Indonesia by building new mills, putting more pressure on existing pulpwood plantations to increase their production.

Indonesian campaigners triumph against a coal mine in top court
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 23 March 2021 (Mongabay) - Environmentalists in Indonesia’s South Kalimantan province have emerged victorious after a three-year legal battle against a company that planned to displace thousands of people and mine coal in a rich, mountainous rainforest.

Study calls for a marine reserve in a fishing hotspot in Indonesia
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 23 March 2021 (Mongabay) - A new study proposes establishing a marine protected area in Indonesia’s Java Sea-Makassar Strait region, one of the top fishing grounds in the country. The study found that much of the commercially valuable snapper and grouper species caught in these shallow waters are juveniles, which compromises the sustainability of the species’ populations and of the $500 million fishery itself.

Secretive group found to have cleared orangutan habitat in Indonesia
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 22 March 2021 (Mongabay) - An Indonesian forestry company with possible links to pulpwood and palm oil powerhouse Royal Golden Eagle has cleared forests the size of 500,000 basketball courts since 2016, some of them home to critically endangered orangutans, according to a new report.

Smelly but stunning volcano wows Icelanders
LONDON, UK, 22 March 2021 (BBC) - Thousands have flocked to a volcano in Iceland which erupted near the capital, Reykjavik. Lava started to burst through a crack in Mount Fagradalsfjall on Friday morning, in the first eruption of its kind in more than 800 years.

Shetland electric cars fuelled purely by the power of the sea
LONDON, UK, 22 March 2021 (BBC) - Cars in Shetland can now be fuelled purely by the power of the sea, in what is believed to be a first for the UK. Nova Innovation's tidal turbines have been powering local homes and businesses for more than five years. The company has now created an electric vehicle charge point on the island of Yell where drivers can fill up using tidal energy.

Alarm in Philippines as 200 Chinese vessels gather at disputed reef
LONDON, UK, 22 March 2021 (Guardian) - The Philippines’ defence chief has demanded more than 200 Chinese vessels he said were manned by militias leave a South China Sea reef claimed by Manila, saying their presence was a “provocative action of militarising the area.”

Why Australia's offshore asylum regime was a dangerous failure
LONDON, UK, 22 March 2021 (Guardian) - Australia’s asylum processing centres on the islands of Manus and Nauru have been widely condemned for systemic abuses, and human rights violations so why is the UK considering a similar plan.

How a country that avoided the worst of Covid finally got hit
PORT MORESBY, PNG, 19 March 2021 (Guardian) - When Papua New Guinea recorded its first Covid case in March 2020, the country held its breath. There were acute fears about the impact of Covid on the country’s already overwhelmed and under-resourced health system, which has roughly 500 doctors to serve a population of around nine million, and was already struggling to deal with outbreaks of measles, drug-resistant tuberculosis and polio.

Keith Schembri, ex-aide to former Malta PM, charged with corruption
VALLETTA, Malta, 20 March 2021 (AFP) - A top aide to former Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat accused of graft by journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, whose brutal murder rocked the nation, was charged on Saturday with money laundering and fraud.

How a family legacy was used to save a rare Tasmanian reserve
LONDON, UK, 20 March 2021 (Guardian) - Bruce and Ann McGregor used a bequest of $1.6m from Bruce’s late father to buy Prosser River Reserve, protecting a diverse natural refuge

Falkland Islands gives nod to public consultation on MMAs
MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay, 19 March 2021 (MercoPress) - The Falkland Islands Government’s Executive Council has approved the launch of a public consultation on a series of proposed Marine Management Areas (MMAs) in Falklands waters, according to documents published this week.

The last children on an ageing South Korean island
LONDON, UK, 19 March 2021 (Guardian) - Nokdo Island, about a 75-minute ferry ride from Boryeong on South Korea’s west coast, has only a handful of children. After decades of national urbanisation and a long-gone birth control drive, Nokdo’s decline encapsulates the demographic slump that led to the population of Asia’s fourth largest economy dropping for the first time last year.

Do the Shetland Islands need a tunnel vision?
LONDON, UK, 19 March 2021 (BBC) - In Shetland you're never more than three miles from the sea, and the ferries which connect the islands are a regular feature in people's lives. But as the fleet ages, Shetlanders are increasingly looking to the Faroe Islands, which has created a network of tunnels to keep people connected, for inspiration.

Volcano erupts near Iceland's capital Reykjavik
LONDON, UK, 19 March 2021 (BBC) - A volcano has erupted south-west of Iceland's capital Reykjavik, the country's meteorological office says. It is warning the public of falling rocks and boulders, and also landslides as the eruption began at Fagradalsfjall on Reykjanes peninsula. This comes after the area recorded more than 50,000 earthquakes in the past three weeks.

Frenchwoman makes sure Fair Isle tradition is alive and knitting
GLASGOW, UK, 19 March 2021 (Herald) - A designer who is keeping the ancient Fair Isle knitting tradition alive on the UK’s remotest inhabited island has been awarded more than £40,000 to expand her business. Marie Bruhat was inspired to move to Fair Isle from France four years ago following a previous internship with another island-based textile business.

Taiwan says China bolstering ability to attack, blockade island
TAIPEI, Taiwan, 19 March 2021 (Reuters) - China is bolstering its ability to attack and blockade Taiwan, deploying long-range missiles to prevent foreign forces helping in the event of war and using psychological warfare to undermine faith in Taiwan’s military, the island’s defence ministry said.

Big Island scales back plans for recycled water
HONOLULU, Hawaii, 19 March 2021 (Civil Beat) - Hawaii County’s Department of Environmental Management said it’s ready to scrap long-standing plans to build a state-of-the-art $160 million wastewater treatment plant in Kealakehe on the island’s western shore. Instead of building a sand-filtrated treatment plant focusing on R1 water - the highest-grade of recycled water - it  wants to produce R2 water, which can still be used for golf courses and agricultural irrigation at a fraction of the price.

Cyprus rebuked for pushbacks of boats carrying asylum seekers
ATHENS, Greece, 18 March 2021 (Guardian) - Cyprus has been urged to improve its treatment of the growing number of asylum seekers landing on its shores in a strongly worded rebuke by Europe’s leading human rights watchdog.

Scottish islands growth deal signed
LONDON, UK, 17 March 2021 (GOV.UK) - The agreement outlines plans for the UK and Scottish governments to each invest £50 million in the future economic prosperity of Orkney, Shetland and the Outer Hebrides. This is anticipated to unlock a further £235 million of investment from project partners, delivering a combined £335 million boost for the islands.

King Coal: How Indonesia became the fossil fuel's final frontier
JAKARTA, Indonesia, 17 March 2021 (Mongabay) - In a little more than 20 years, Indonesia has gone from being a minor player in the global coal industry to playing a central role as a key consumer and producer of coal. And even as investors and key export markets are shifting toward alternative energy sources, Indonesia’s laws are increasingly tying future economic growth to the fossil fuel.

West Greenland's plastic litter mostly comes from local sources
COPENHAGEN, Denmark, 16 March 2021 (Arctic Today) - The vast majority of plastic that collects on Greenland’s western coast likely stems from local sources, a study of 300 kilograms of litter gathered during a 2019 clean-up has concluded.

Taiwan official urges people to stop changing their name to 'salmon'
TAIPEI, Taiwan, 18 March 2021 (AFP) - A Taiwanese official has pleaded with people to stop changing their name to “salmon” after dozens made the unusual move to take advantage of a restaurant promotion.

Hope blooms for an 'extinct' Sri Lankan tree that reemerged
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka, 18 March 2021 (Mongabay) - The rediscovery of a Sri Lankan legume tree in 2019 was rare good news of a species still surviving despite being declared extinct years earlier. But that tree is now threatened by a road project, prompting an outcry from conservationists, the general public, and even Buddhist monks, who anointed it in a ritual meant to discourage anyone from cutting it down.

Protect our ocean 'to solve challenges of century'
LONDON, UK, 17 March 2021 (BBC) - Protecting the ocean has a triple whammy effect, safeguarding climate, food and biodiversity, according to new research. A global map compiled by international scientists pinpoints priority places for action to maximise benefits for people and nature. Currently, only 7% of the ocean is protected.

Australia to send Papua New Guinea vaccines as cases surge
LONDON, UK, 17 March 2021 (BBC) - Australia is to provide 8,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Papua New Guinea as the island nation struggles with an outbreak of coronavirus.