Environment Current Affairs 2017

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US to create world’s largest protected marine area off Hawaii

United States is going to create world’s largest protected marine reserve area named as Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument off the Hawaiian coast.

It will be created by expansion of present national monument off Hawaii. US President Barck Obama will use his power to expand this national monument.

Key Facts

  • With this expansion, the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument will now span to 582,578 square miles. Thus, it quadruples in the size from present size.
  • The expansion will further help to protect more than 7,000 species and improves an ecosystem dealing with ocean acidification and warming.
  • It will permanently protect coral reefs and underwater marine habitats which are home to marine species, including rare whales and sea turtles.
  • The monument was first designated by the US President George W. Bush in 2006 as the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument.
  • It was renamed later in honour of Papahanaumoku and Wakea, the husband-and-wife Hawaiian gods of earth and sky.
  • In 2010, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) had designated the area a world heritage site.


BRICS countries adopt Udaipur Declaration on disaster

The two-day meeting of Ministers of Disaster Management (MDM) of BRICS countries concluded in Udaipur, Rajasthan with the adoption of the Udaipur Declaration.

This was the second meeting and in the follow up of the first meeting of the BRICS MDM convened by the Russia in St. Petersburg in April, 2016.

Udaipur Declaration

  • BRICS nations to set up a dedicated Joint Task Force for Disaster Risk Management for regular dialogue, exchange, mutual support and collaboration among them.
  • The meeting was a new milestone in collaboration and cooperation among BRICS countries in the field of disaster management.
  • The roadmap for implementation of the three-year Joint Action Plan for BRICS emergency services (2016-18) was also finalised.

Key Highlights of 2nd BRICS MDM meeting

  • Objective: (i) Share experiences on flood-risk management, current systems in each country for forecasting extreme weather events. (ii) Identify opportunities for collaboration between institutions of respective BRICS countries in the area of flood risk management and extreme weather-related events.
  • It focused on two themes: (i) ‘Flood Risk Managementand (ii) Forecasting of Extreme Weather Events in the context of Changing Climate‘.
  • Three technical sessions were held on areas of disaster risk management challenges, forecasting and early warning on flood and disaster risk in a changing climate.


Gymnothorax indicus, new species of eel found in Bay of Bengal

Scientists from have discovered Gymnothorax indicus (proposed name Indian unpatterened moray), a new species of eel (a snake-like fish) in the northern Bay of Bengal region along the West Bengal coast.

It was discovered after it was collected in a trawl net by fishermen in northern Bay of Bengal, about 70 km off the coast.

About Gymnothorax indicus

  • The ell species Gymnothorax indicus is slender-bodied. It was found at a depth of 35 metres in the sea.
  • It is about one feet-long and edible. It has 194 vertebrae. Its dorsal fin has a black margin.
  • The body of the eel is uniformly pale brown without spots or patterns. Its eye rim is pale.

Significance of discovery: Scientists believe that these newly discovered eel species may contribute to food security in the future.

Eaten in coastal areas

Eels are found mostly at the bottom of rivers and seas. Globally, about 1,000 species of eels have been identified. In India their number is around 125. Eels are local delicacy in many countries like Japan. But consumption of eels in India is limited to coastal areas.

Rich marine biodiversity in Bay of Bengal

  • The coastal region of West Bengal adjoining areas of Bay of Bengal are the rich marine biodiversity. Over the past few years, it has yielded two new species of fish.
  • In 2015, Gymnothorax mishrai (Bengal moray eel), a short brown unpatterned moray eel was discovered.
  • Scientists also had discovered another new species of Haplogenys bengalensis (Indian velvetchin), an edible marine fish from the same area.