Around the Region

Costa Rican water project spurs bee-habitat worries

A massive water-storage project approved for Costa Rica’s driest region has the country’s beekeepers’ association worried about habitat loss in an area that is home to as many as 300 endemic bee species. On Sept. 6, Costa Rica’s Legislative Assembly gave final approval to the Water Storage Program for Guanacaste. The project, known as Paacume, will dam local rivers to create an 850-hectare (2,100-acre) reservoir in the northwestern province of Guanacaste. With construction slated to begin in 2020, the four-part project will include a hydroelectric dam, a series of canals for water distribution, and the voluminous reservoir, which will be located in the town of Bagaces. Intended to bolster water and power supplies for Guanacaste farmers and residents, the project requires...

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Escape of farmed salmon in Chile rekindles debate

Chile’s long-running debate about salmon farming has intensified since July 5th, when storm damage to floating salmon pens enabled 700,000 of the farmed fish to escape into the Pacific. Salmon are not native to Chile, but have been farmed intensively in the country since the 1980s. Salmon raised in pens along the country’s extensive coastline has joined copper as one of Chile’s most important exports, generating US$4 billion in sales last year. July’s massive release occurred when nine breeding pens ruptured at a salmon farm owned by the Norwegian company Marine Harvest in the community of Calbuco, about 1,100 kilometers south of the Chilean capital of Santiago. Chile’s Environment Superintendency, a decentralized compliance and inspection service overseen by the Environment Ministry, says the...

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Spate of sea turtle deaths prompting probe in Mexico

Mexican authorities say they are ramping up marine-protection efforts in their country’s southern Pacific region following the discovery of over 400 dead sea turtles along that stretch of coast in little more than a month. On Aug. 28, Mexico’s Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa) reported that more than 300 olive ridley turtles drowned after being entangled in a 120-meter-long nylon fishing net off the southern coast of Oaxaca. The olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) is classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The 300 that drowned off Oaxaca were caught in what is often referred to as a “ghost net”—abandoned fishing gear, which is illegal in Mexican waters. The announcement came only 10 days after Profepa...

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Brazilian judge rejects glyphosate suspension

A Brazilian appeals judge has overturned a lower-court decision suspending the use of the controversial herbicide glyphosate, citing the economic harm such a move would cause to the country’s powerful farm sector. Glyphosate-based herbicides are used extensively in Brazil in conjunction with varieties of soy, corn and cotton that are genetically engineered to tolerate them. Genetically modified soy in particular accounts for an enormous share of Brazil’s agricultural-export earnings. At issue was a federal judge’s order on Aug. 3 that the use of glyphosate and two lesser-used agrochemicals—thiram, a fungicide, and abamectin, an insecticide—be suspended within 30 days. The three chemicals have been undergoing a toxicity review by Anvisa, the regulatory arm of the Brazilian Health Ministry, since 2008...

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