More help needed for the seas

sharkLast month we wrote of pending regulations that would reduce the toll on marine creatures from bycatch death at the hands of foreign fisheries. There is another opportunity to help fish, this time by letting delivery company FedEx know they need to halt their shipments of shark fins. Shark finning is a brutal practice that results in the death of an estimated 73 million animals each year. The captured fish have the fins hacked off, and then are tossed back in the water. Unable to swim, they die a slow death.

Twenty-five percent of shark species are currently listed as endangered, threatened, or near threatened by extinction, so this is a serious conservation issue. Shark fin is considered a delicacy in the Orient and elsewhere and is shipped worldwide by international companies such as FedEx. Two other large shippers, UPS and DHL have halted the transport of shark fin, but FedEx has not followed suit. The company claims to integrate environmental responsibilities into its operations and decisions, but has fallen short in this regard.

What you can do—Contact FedEx CEO Fred Smith and urge him to halt the company’s shipping of shark fin. Point out that his competitors have acted to protect wildlife, and that FedEx stands out by its inaction.

Fred Smith can be contacted at: FedEx Corporation, 942 South Shady Grove Rd., Memphis, TN 38120; fax— (901) 818-7570; email–FWSmith@fedex.com. Also, the company has a Twitter account, www.twitter.com/ FedEx, and a Facebook account, www.facebook.com/ FedEx, where postings can be made.

New DEC Commissioner named—NY Governor Andrew Cuomo has named Basil Seggos to succeed Joe Martens as Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation. Seggos had served as the Governor’s deputy secretary for the environment, and reportedly had a large hand in the decision to ban hydrofracking in the state. The appointment is subject to approval by the State Senate. Basil Seggos has also worked for Riverkeeper, the Natural Resources Defense Council, as well as a private equity firm. The general response to the appointment from the environmental community has been positive, but it remains to be seen how the new commissioner will approach the department’s many challenges, including low staff and budget levels, relicensing of nuclear plants, addressing climate change, to name a few. One early decision will be whether to provide necessary water and air quality permits to allow construction of the Constitution Pipeline to move ahead. This will affect our region and environment significantly.

What you can do—Contact Commissioner Seggos and congratulate him on his appointment. Ask him to require a full, cumulative study of all anticipated energy pipelines in the state before approving any permits. With the growing number of proposals, this approach is necessary to view the full picture of these projects’ impacts. Basil Seggos, NY State Dep’t. of Environmental Conservation, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233; Basil. Seggos@exec.ny.gov.

Andy Mason