Seafood consumption is both a love and a necessity for hundreds of millions of people worldwide. And its supply is a key part of maintaining food security for the whole planet. But during a time of rapid population growth and increasing demand, stocks of wild fish and invertebrates (such as mussels and prawns) are declining.
The problem is that policies and plans designed to make sure there are enough fish and invertebrates almost exclusively target fishing activity. But we also need to protect the critical habitats that are essential for the sustainability of these stocks and fisheries.
Most species that are fished require more than a single habitat to live and thrive. Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), for example, spends its adult life shoaling in deep water where it lives, feeds and spawns. But juveniles require more stable habitat such as seagrass meadows. So, if we want to manage fish and invertebrate stocks for sustainability reasons, it is essential to protect the supporting habitats of targeted species.
Seagrass meadows are just one of these critical habitats. These large areas of marine flowering plants are abundant in shallow seas on all continents except Antarctica. They support biodiversity and in turn the productivity of the worlds fisheries. As seagrass meadows occur from the intertidal – the area exposed by the daily ebb of the tide – to about a depth of 60 metres in clear waters, they are an easily exploitable fishing habitat.
Though it is clear that seagrasses are a vital part of ocean ecosystems, until now, there has been no information on the role that meadows play in supporting the productivity of world fisheries. But we have now published the first quantitative global evidence on the significant roles that seagrasses play.
Habitats and fisheries
Nursery grounds in seagrass meadows are a safer, less exposed, environment for eggs to be laid and young animals to find food and protection from predators as they grow. The very fact that they are there means that there are places for commercial fish stocks such as tiger prawns, conch, Atlantic cod and white spotted spinefoot to be caught by global fisheries. In fact, a fifth of the world’s most landed fish – including Atlantic cod and Walleye pollock – benefit from the persistence of extensive seagrass meadows.
But it is not just large-scale fishing industries that benefit from the presence of seagrass meadows. As they are an easily accessible fishing ground, small scale artisanal and subsistence fisheries around the world also use them.
Seagrass is also essential for communities that take part in gleaning – fishing for invertebrates such as sea cucumbers in water that is shallow enough to walk in. This is often done by women and children, and provides a source of essential protein and income for some of the most vulnerable people in tropical coastal communities. It is a common and increasingly visible activity, but it is not usually included in fishery statistics and rarely considered in resource management strategies.
And the benefits of seagrasses don’t only lie in the meadows themselves, their presence supports nearby fishing areas, as well as deep water habitats. They do this by creating expansive areas rich in fauna, from which there are vast quantities of living material, organic matter and associated animal biomass that supports other fisheries. Seagrasses also promote the health of connected habitats (like coral reefs), and have the capacity to support whole food webs in deep sea fisheries.
The coastal distribution of seagrass means that it is vulnerable to a multitude of threats from both land and sea. These include land runoff, coastal development, boat damage and trawling. On a global scale, seagrass is rapidly declining, and when seagrass is lost associated fisheries and their stocks are likely to become compromised with profound and negative economic consequences.
The importance of seagrass meadows for fisheries productivity and hence food security is not reflected by the policies currently in place. These are urgently needed to continue enjoying the benefits that healthy and productive seagrass meadows provide.
Fisheries management must be broadened from just targeting fishing activity to also targeting the habitats on which fisheries depend. Awareness of the role of seagrass in global fisheries production – and, so, food security – must be central to any policy, and major manageable threats to seagrass, such as declining water quality, must be dealt with.
Seagrass can be a resilient and supportive habitat – but only if we take action to continue to enjoy the benefits it provides.
Leanne Cullen-Unsworth, Research Fellow, Cardiff University; Lina Mtwana Nordlund, Researcher in coastal environmental sciences, Stockholm University, and Richard K.F. Unsworth, Lecturer, Swansea University
The UAE will enact sweeping changes to its residency system in which key workers will be offered visas of up to 10 years, to attract sought-after professionals.
Doctors and engineers and their families are among those who will be eligible for long-stay visas.
Specialists working in medicine, science, research and technical fields will also be eligible. Students will also be able to secure five-year visas and "exceptional" graduates could remain in the country for 10 years. At present, students must apply to renew their visa each year.
Other major changes include allowing investors to own 100 per cent of a company based in the Emirates. At present, companies are required to have a local partner that owns 51 per cent of the business. Only those based in free zones can be 100 per cent foreign-owned. The changes were outlined in a Cabinet meeting chaired by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, on Sunday.
"The UAE will remain a global incubator for exceptional talents and a permanent destination for international investors," said Sheikh Mohammed.
He said an "open environment, tolerant values, infrastructure and flexible legislation are the best plan to attract global investment and exceptional talents to the UAE". Government departments have been told to work on implementing the changes by the end of 2018.
As The National reported on Thursday, major changes have been planned for some time. It was initially thought the move was only planned for Abu Dhabi. Long-term residential visas and greater flexibility for retirees would encourage more expats to invest in the UAE - bringing a huge boost to the local economy. That was the assessment of property experts and long-term expats.
Greater flexibility for retirees has been discussed although there was no specific mention of that at Sunday's Cabinet meeting.
Expats typically channel their money into property or savings schemes abroad - funds that could be spent in the local economy if they had the option to settle here long-term, observers said. A more permanent - rather than transient - workforce would also bring economic benefits. Shahzad Ahmed, a Pakistani-Canadian IT consultant living in Abu Dhabi, has rented a house in Abu Dhabi for 15 years, but said that getting a longer-stay residency visa would encourage him to buy in the emirate.
“My in-laws have been living in UAE for nearly 50 years and UAE is home for us. Every other place feels alien. If we were given a chance, we would jump on such an opportunity. We would love to have a permanent residency here,” said Mr Ahmed.
“Definitely, our decision to buy property here would be affected if we were able to get a residency visa here. Then, this would be our first home. Everything would revolve around buying property here and putting down our roots in this country,” said the IT consultant.
Nipa Bhuptani, 52, the founder of an autism charity in Abu Dhabi, said: “If a residency visa were to happen in Abu Dhabi, the next step would be to buy a place here.
“We have lived in Abu Dhabi since 1991. This is the longest I have ever lived in a place. Abu Dhabi is home.
“My son was born here and went to school here and we have made our life here. At the back of our minds, we have always wondered about what would happen and what we would do. So, this is very welcome change if this happens. This is very exciting news.”
Source: The National
The government has allocated Sh1 billion ( $440,000) to upgrade Handeni - Singida road through Chemba to the tarmac level.
The road joins the three regions of Tanga, Dodoma and Singida in which the East African crude oil pipeline from Hoima in Uganda to Chongoleani in Tanzania passes through.
Deputy minister for Works, Transport and Communications Mr Elias Kwandikwa said the preparations for compensations have started. He also asked the residents in that area to stop settlement development in areas marked.
Mr Kwandikwa was responding to a question from Mr Juma Nkamia (Chemba-CCM) who wanted to know when the construction of the tarmac road from Handeni through Kiberashi, Chemba and Kwamtoro to Singida would start.
Source: The Citizen