International Environmental Law Research Guide
Caspian Sea Sturgeon:
The major source of the world’s supply of caviar comes from sturgeon of the Caspian Sea, a landlocked body of water surrounded by four nations that emerged from the break-up of the Soviet Union, and Iran. The Caspian has also been identified as a source of enormous potential oil wealth. Threats to sturgeon come from overfishing, oil pollution and damming of rivers flowing into the Caspian that interfere with their spawning process. Regional cooperation among nations with vastly different resources and levels of development, as well as limited history of environmental management is necessary.
An enormous bluefin tuna – a fish prized as sushi - sold in Tokyo’s central fish for a price of close to $400 a pound. The most valuable fish in the world, bluefin tuna have been shipped to Japan from as far away as New England. Because of the enormous process they can command, bluefin tuna have been overfished; it is estimated that the North Atlantic breeding populations have declined 90 percent since 1980. At the same time, tuna is a key economic resource for many Pacific nations. A dispute between Australia and New Zealand and Japan over fishing quotas for the Pacific Ocean’s Southern Bluefin tuna led to the first decision of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea involving fishing rights.
Illegal Commercial Trade in Bushmeat:
People in Africa have long depended on wildlife resources to satisfy their nutritional, economic and cultural needs in areas where livestock husbandry is limited. Illegal commercial trade in bushmeat refers to taking of wildlife resources in numbers far exceeding sustainable levels, putting a monetary value and trade mechanism on what had previously only been locally consumed and shared. The result is that forests in Central Africa are being emptied. Logging roads built by the timber industry have opened up previously inaccessible forests, modern weapons technology has impacted the amount of wildlife taken and outside commercial interests have moved in. Cooperation of the nations involved, with the support of the international community, is required.
Destruction of the Brazilian Amazon, the world’s largest tropical rainforest and home to an estimated 15 to 30 percent of the world’s species, has been a concern to the international community for decades, yet the loss continues, with an area the size of Massachusetts lost last year. The destruction has been caused by cattle ranching, mining and logging, among other activities, and has been exacerbated by pro-development schemes undertaken by the Brazilian government , in many cases assisted by international lending bodies such as the World Bank, which emphasized short term economic gains with little thought to the long term environmental costs
Living with Kyoto: a Comparison of Hungary and the Netherlands
The Kyoto Protocol and the underlying United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change are built on a foundation of fairness and flexibility. The framers of the instruments understood that while climate change is a global problem, the responsibility for emitting greenhouse gases, the effect of global warming on both environments and economies, and the cost of remedies and emission reduction vary widely from country to country. By signing the Kyoto Protocol, Hungary and the Netherlands legally bound themselves to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Both countries are industrialized members of the European Community but differ considerably in political and economic development. A comparison of the two countries’ situations and obligations under Kyoto illustrates the mechanisms a global environmental instrument employs to recognize member differences.