Monthly Archives: December 2012

Anachronous insecta

A few posts ago I showed you some of the spider I encountered in the short spell of good weather we had in the late summer and early autumn. I think maybe some species were making hay whilst the sun was shining because there were also a lot of hoverflies around at that time too. And here are  three of the species I found. It’s the wrong time of year to be posting about hoverflies, hence the title of the post, but I haven’t been able to get out with my camera so I reckon a hoverfly post is better than none at all! Identifying hoverflies can be tricky because there are species which look very similar to each other and I’m no expert, so I hope my identifications are accurate but if any of you spot an error please let me know.

Eristalis tenax

Eristalis tenax is a type of hoverfly known as a ‘drone fly’, so called because they mimic honey bee drones. They are common throughout the UK and the females, which mate before overwintering and laying their eggs in the springtime, can be seen in any month of the year because they emerge from hibernation to feed when the weather warms up sufficiently. The larvae of this species are called ‘rat-tailed maggots’ and feed in sewage outflows and rotting carcasses – the more putrid it is the more they seem to like it! They are aquatic and the reason they are called ‘rat-tailed’ is that they have an extendable tube which can protrude up to around 5cm which they poke out of the water and use to breath air.

Tapered drone fly – Eristalis pertinax

The tapered drone fly is so called because the male has a tapered abdomen which is visible on this individual. It is otherwise a similar species to E. tenax and it’s larvae are also known as rat-tailed maggots. Apart from the taper it’s also distinguishable from E. tenax by it front legs which are pale.

My favourite hoverfly I found this year is this one:

The footballer – Helophilus pendulus

It’s called ‘the footballer’ because it’s colours are likened to a football shirt. It’s scientific name means ‘dangling sun lover’. The larvae of this species feed on detritus and have been found in wet manure, drains and in very wet sawdust. It’s widespread throughout the UK and can be seen throughout the summer in bright sunny locations in hedgerows. Despite the unsavoury but indispensable habits of the larvae of all of these species they transform into the most handsome adults.

I haven’t done a dedicated Christmas post this year so here’s wishing you all a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy 2013!

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Looking after the forests and the fishes Pt3

Continuing the story of todays vote by the EU Fisheries Committee on reform of the Common Fisheries Policy to end discard and prevent overfishing I’ve just received email notification that the vote was  in favour of reform by 13 votes to 10 with 2 abstentions!

Wey hey!! It just goes to show that common sense can ultimately prevail. This is what the press release from the EU had to say:

Stop overfishing: Fisheries Committee approves major reform for “Blue Europe”

PECH Fisheries − 18-12-2012 – 17:28

The EU’s Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) needs radical reform to cut fishing to sustainable stock levels, end discards, and use better long-term planning based on reliable scientific data, said Fisheries Committee MEPs on Tuesday. Overfishing is widely seen as the worst failure of the current CFP, dating from 2002. The new one is to take effect in 2014.

European Commission figures suggest 80% of Mediterranean stocks and 47% of Atlantic stocks are overfished. The proposal voted in the Fisheries Committee contains clear and strong measures to tackle this problem.

“I am very relieved that we have now cleared this difficult hurdle. I expect that the plenary will confirm our vote in February. After that we will have a strong backing to start negotiations with the Council in order to get the reform signed and sealed” said Ulrike Rodust (S&D, DE), Parliament’s rapporteur on the fisheries reform..

Stop overfishing by ending discards…

Discards – fish thrown back, usually because they are of unwanted species or size – account for almost a quarter of total EU catches. Most of the discarded species die. To end this wasteful practice, MEPs voted to oblige fishing vessels to land all catches in accordance with a timeframe setting specific dates for different fisheries, starting from 2014.

Landed catches of fish that are undersized, for example, would be restricted to uses other than human consumption. Member States must make sure fishing vessels comply with the discard ban.

…and respect maximum sustainable yield

The maximum sustainable yield (MSY) is defined as the largest catch that can be safely taken year after year and which maintains the fish population size at maximum productivity. In today’s vote, MEPs sought to ensure that fish stocks will recover, by 2020 at the latest, to above levels that are capable of producing the MSY, and thereafter to  maintain all recovered stocks at these levels. Ultimately this means more fish, better catches and, as a consequence, more jobs in the fishing industry.

Long-term planning instead of yearly quota-haggling

To achieve sustainability in fisheries, multi-annual fish stock management plans are now established as a priority. A longer term approach should bring greater predictability, and the fishing industry will be able to invest better and plan ahead. Multi-annual plans will be based on more reliable and accurate scientific data, which EU member states will be obliged to collect and make available.

Next steps

The draft resolution on the Common Fisheries Policy was approved with 13 votes in favour, 10 against and 2 abstentions, and should be put to a plenary vote in February.

And other piece of good news for the fishes was reported on the BBC website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20709853

This is an awesome acheivement and one I hope guarantees the survival of all the shark species which live in that area.

Looking after the forests and the fishes Pt2

Following on from the previous post about the vote for reform to the EU Common Fisheries Policy tomorrow, I emailed the seven MEP’s that were listed on Chris Davies (Lib Dem MEP) website as swinging voters:

Struan Stevenson (Con, sits in ECR European Parliament Group, UK)
Marek Grobarczyk (Law and Justice, sits in ECR, Poland)
Nigel Farage (UKIP, sits in EFD, UK)
Dolores Garcia-Hierro Caraballo (Socialist, sits in S&D, Spain)
Diane Dodds (DUP, non-attached, UK)
Werner Kuhn (Christian Democrats, sits in EPP, Germany)
Jaroslaw Walesa (Civic Platform, sits in EPP, Poland)

And the other three UK MEP’s who sit on the Fisheries Committee:

Ian Hudghton (SNP)
Julie Girling (Con)
George Lyon (Lib Dem)

So far the only one who has replied is Struan Stevenson and his assistant assured me that he will be voting for the reforms and that the vote can be followed tomorrow here on the European Parliaments website.

Fingers crossed that the common good prevails over commercial interests!

Looking after the forests and the fishes

No pictures in this post but I want to show you a couple of websites which you may be interested in showing some support for.

Two of the ongoing issues which I’m passionate about are conservation of the oceans and the forests. Down in Tasmania is a very courageous and dedicated lady called Miranda Gibson whose blog I found a couple of months ago, it’s called ‘TheObservertree‘, and in it she describes her last year living at the top of a tree in a forest in Tasmania as a peaceful protest at the destruction of the native ancient forests there. I was really pleased to see this week that Miranda’s stand was highlighted on the front page of the BBC News website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20723455

Please check out the video and visit her blog to register your support.

And the second issue which is coming up this week is a vote in the European Parliament to reform the Common Fisheries Policy which if passed will ban discard and help to rebuild dwindling fish stocks. For any non-Europeans who may be unaware of what’s happening, the EU has stipulated how much of which fish species can be caught and landed. On the face of it a good thing you may think, but in practice what this means is that all the over catches are simply dumped back into the sea, referred to as ‘discard‘. Which means that many tons of perfectly good fish are killed and then thrown overboard, which is great for short term hunger management of gulls and other fish eating creatures, but completely insane from the point of view of maintaining viable fish stocks for all species!

I’ve been getting regular updates from Chris Davies, a UK Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament (MEP) who sits on the Fisheries Committee, and you can follow this link to the latest communication. If you feel strongly about the destruction of the oceans please send an email to one or more of the swinging MEP’s listed who sit on the Committee and ask them to vote for the reforms.

This is the email I sent to all of them and all the other UK MEP’s who sit on the Fisheries Committee:

As an MEP sitting on the Fisheries Committee of the European Parliament I am writing to urge you to vote for the reform to the Common Fisheries Policy this Tuesday.

I believe that it is essential that the reform is passed in order to guarantee the longer term survival of viable fish stocks in order to maintain the health of not only the fish but that of the ocean as a whole. This is particularly the case as, going forward, the seas are likely to become more and more important as a food source. I believe this issue should be beyond party politics and the lobbying power of vested interests as it is much too important, and the fish stocks should not be squandered in the pursuit of short term commercial interests.

I thank you for taking the time to read my email and urge you again to please vote for the reform.

If you enjoy your fish and chips, and want to continue to do so, please send an email or two to let the MEP’s know how you wish them to vote.