Soviet botanist Ivan Machurin’s immortal phrase “We cannot wait for favors from nature. To take them from it — that is our task” could be the all-encompassing slogan by which Russia’s resource-driven economy now lives.
Even though the early 20th-century scientist was primarily referring to creating plant hybrids, his philosophy underpinned many of the Soviet Union’s ambitious experiments with nature — from reversing river flows to the Kamchatka crabs that were transplanted to the Barents Sea in the 1960s in an effort to increase the productivity of the northern sea.
Half a century later, the spiny giants are the region’s most lucrative catch — but this experiment with biodiversity has had a string of economic, environmental and social effects on the fishing communities of the Barents Sea.
No Accidental Tourist
With a life span of up to 30 years and growing up to 2 meters across, the Kamchatka crab — also called the red king crab — is a hardy native of the North Pacific, taking its name from the peninsula where Russians first encountered it.
Between 1961 and 1969, scientists seeking to boost the commercial productivity of Russia’s Arctic Sea released 13,000 of the creatures and 1.6 million larvae into Kolafjord in the east Barents Sea — thousands of miles from their Pacific home.
The results of the experiment were at first disappointing. Although Norwegian fishermen soon began to find Kamchatka crabs in their nets with increasing regularity — the crabs appear to have marched toward Norway against the warm Gulf Stream current soon after being introduced — at first their presence in Soviet waters was negligible.
But the crustaceans were only biding their time. Continue reading
MAKAWAO – The leaking, redwood Waikamoi flume would be replaced with an aluminum channel supported by an aluminum truss along its entire 1.1-mile length, retaining precious surface water for drought-plagued Upcountry residents and providing a safe working platform for employees of the Department of Water Supply.
The flume channels water from the Haipuaena Stream to the vicinity of Waikamoi Stream and eventually into the water department’s upper Kula system, which supplies water to residents of Kula, Waiakoa, Keokea, Ulupalakua and Kanaio.
The $10 million to $15 million flume replacement project, which is pending necessary approvals, is expected to begin in the last quarter of this year and take about two years go complete, according to plans submitted to the state Office of Environmental Quality Control.
The office published the department’s draft environmental assessment and anticipated finding of no significant impact last week in its current issue of The Environmental Notice. It is available online at oeqc.doh.hawaii.gov/Shared%Documents/Environmental_Notice/current_issue.pdf.
Public comments are due June 22.
Maui County Council Member Joe Pontanilla, chairman of the council’s Budget and Finance Committee, said Saturday that more than $10 million has been appropriated for the flume replacement project in the current county budget.
Located in the Koolau Forest Reserve, the flume was originally built in the 1930s out of redwood timbers and rock and concrete masonry foundations, according to the draft environmental assessment. In 1974 and 1975, the flume box was replaced with redwood planking, although portions of the timber bridges that were built in the 1930s were kept in place. Continue reading
HONOLULU – Deer can swim, but not very far. When they showed up for the first time on the Big Island of Hawaii, mystified residents wondered how they got there.
The island is some 30 miles southeast of Maui, where deer are plentiful.
Hawaii wildlife authorities think someone dropped a few from a helicopter on the northern tip of the island. And tracks along the southern coast indicate deer were pushed into the ocean from a boat and forced to paddle ashore.
Whether they arrived by air or sea, wildlife managers want to eradicate them to avoid a repeat of the destruction seen on other islands where they ate through vineyards, avocado farms and forests where endangered species live.
Officials estimate that there are 100 deer on the northern and southern ends of the Big Island. A government-funded group is leading efforts to get rid of them before they breed.
“They didn’t get here by themselves, so the people who brought them over did so and have done it many times,” said Jan Schipper, the group’s project manager.
People have reported seeing deer on the Big Island for a while, but it wasn’t until a motion-sensor camera captured a photo of one last year that their presence was confirmed.
Axis deer, called chital in their native India, are similar in size to whitetail deer found in the continental U.S. Tigers and leopards keep axis deer numbers reasonable in India, but the deer population is growing 20 to 30 percent per year in Hawaii because there aren’t any natural predators.
The deer first came to Hawaii in the 1860s as a gift from Hong Kong to the monarch who ruled at the time, King Kamehameha V. They were first taken to Molokai.
In the 1950s, some deer were taken to Maui as part of post-World War II efforts to introduce mammals to different places Continue reading
Drought lingered on the Big Island through another dry winter and is returning this summer to more deeply ravaged, already water-stressed places. These next five months aren’t expected to bring any real reprieve, especially for leeward areas, said Kevin Kodama, senior hydrologist for the National Weather Service.
Weather officials are predicting persistence and possible worsening of drought on the Big Island. Most of the island’s leeward sites had less than 50 percent of normal rainfall during the wet season, which typically runs October through April. Some areas that had slight improvement because of rain earlier this year are already intensifying again and not expecting to get better soon.
On the other hand, most of Big Island’s windward areas had 80 to 110 percent of the normal rainfall range during the wet season, which was ranked the 18th wettest season out of the last 30 years. In fact, the gauge at Hilo Airport received 79.65 inches.
The only exception to the latest prediction is the upland coffee belt, particularly in South Kona, which is unique in that more rainfall is typically observed in the summer than in winter, Kodama said. One theory for this is the onshore sea breeze is more persistent, ascending the mountain slopes, to interact with descending trade winds through the saddle, producing local showers usually in the late afternoon. Meanwhile, the rest of the Hawaiian Island chain generally experiences a dry season, running from now through September.
La Niña conditions, which typically last about nine to 12 months, were primarily to blame for the drier than normal wet season. La Niña is defined as cooler than normal sea-surface temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean that impact global weather patterns. Continue reading
Chinese beverage takes on renewed meaning and styles to draw in younger generation
Rather than while away their time in coffee shops like most of their peers, Li Jiayi and her friends are happy to spend 1,000 yuan ($158, 122 euros) between them over a pot of tea.
Of course, it is not just a cup or two of tea they get. This regular “ceremony” involves a tea-themed dinner accompanied by tea-related performance art and followed by a tea-oil massage.
“It’s not like the old-fashioned teahouse where old folks get a pot of tea and chat all day long. We get all-round service here – shopping for tea, drinking, dining, massages, enjoying art performances. It’s a perfect place for friends gathering, and for business banquets,” says Li, a 27-year-old company manager in Beijing.
The ancient tea drinking culture, though still popular among the older generation, is making a comeback as it takes on various forms to attract a greater and younger range of customers.
“Tea can be a daily drink or an art form or a relaxing leisure pursuit,” says Liu Lei, an industry expert and executive of Xiangguo Teahouse. “At a time when bottled drinks are constantly facing safety issues, tea can be considered a healthy replacement.”
Originating in China, tea is deeply rooted in the country’s culture and people’s lives. It is considered as one of the seven necessities, along with wood, rice, oil, salt, soy sauce and vinegar.
Legend has it that tea was discovered by an emperor, Shennong, about 5,000 years ago, when several tea leaves fell into the water he was boiling under a tree. The refreshing and slightly bitter flavor gradually became popular among the upper classes. By the time of the Tang (AD 618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties, it had become the drink for all Continue reading
Patricia Kontur was surprised when the blueberry export business to China was hit by a sudden slump last year, after five years of consecutive gains.
The slump was not caused by shrinking demand but by rising competition in the mainland, said the export program director of the Wild Blueberry Association of North America, which oversees blueberry farms in Maine.
“Domestic players may not have heard of ‘blueberries’ just a decade ago. But now many of them can mass-produce the berries and guarantee Chinese consumers a much lower price,” she said. “You just can be in awe of what China can accomplish.”
Imported foods, until recently a rarity in China, are becoming more and more common, buoyed by an increasingly affluent population and high-profile food scandals.
The US Association of Food Industries has forecast that China will become the largest consumer of imported foods, having a market of 480 billion yuan ($76 billion) in 2018.
A noticeable shift has occurred within the past five years: Chinese food companies are looking to produce cheaper versions of Western foods, squeezing the margin of foreign exporters.
For instance, the blueberries previously available in China primarily originated in North America.
But domestic production of the fruit skyrocketed, showing compound annual growth rate of 134 percent from 2007 to 2010 and hitting 5,000 tons by the end of 2010, according to a report by the Chilean Fresh Fruit Exporters Association.
More than 10 blueberry companies, registered in the past five years, have set up operations in China’s northeast provinces, where soil requirements and climate conditions are perfect for growing such fruit, data from the Blueberry Research Institute of Dalian University show. Continue reading
MILWAUKEE — One of life’s simple pleasures just got a little sweeter. After years of waffling research on coffee and health, even some fear that java might raise the risk of heart disease, a big study finds the opposite: Coffee drinkers are a little more likely to live longer. Regular or decaf doesn’t matter.
The study of 400,000 people is the largest ever done on the issue, and the results should reassure any coffee lovers who think it’s a guilty pleasure that may do harm.
“Our study suggests that’s really not the case,” said lead researcher Neal Freedman of the National Cancer Institute. “There may actually be a modest benefit of coffee drinking.”
No one knows why. Coffee contains a thousand things that can affect health, from helpful antioxidants to tiny amounts of substances linked to cancer. The most widely studied ingredient — caffeine — didn’t play a role in the new study’s results.
It’s not that earlier studies were wrong. There is evidence that coffee can raise LDL, or bad cholesterol, and blood pressure at least short-term, and those in turn can raise the risk of heart disease.
Even in the new study, it first seemed that coffee drinkers were more likely to die at any given time. But they also tended to smoke, drink more alcohol, eat more red meat and exercise less than non-coffee-drinkers. Once researchers took those things into account, a clear pattern emerged: Each cup of coffee per day nudged up the chances of living longer.
The study was done by the National Institutes of Health and AARP. The results are published in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine.
Careful, though — this doesn’t prove that coffee makes people live longer, only that the two seem related. Continue reading
Exotic and inquisitive, alpacas are charismatic pets and are prized for their luxurious fleeces. But an owner has warned that many alpaca keepers are in denial about the risk of bovine TB after she caught the potentially fatal disease from one of her animals.
Dianne Summers, a 51-year-old owner of 20 alpacas from Cornwall, warned that without the compulsory testing of alpacas bovine TB would “spread among our animals like wildfire”.
The first known person in Britain to contract bovine TB from alpacas, Summers fears that petting zoos could be “riddled” with the disease, posing a risk to the public, vets and other animals, and called on the government to close a loophole that allows alpacas, llamas and other camelids to escape being tested for bovine TB.
Alpacas are treated as low-risk animals in the transmission of bovine TB, but last month up to 500 alpacas were slaughtered by government vets after TB was detected on an alpaca farm in Burgess Hill, East Sussex. TB outbreaks have occurred in 58 alpaca herds – around 5% of the total – in the UK since 1999. There are more than 30,000 alpacas in Britain, including some which are regularly encountered by the public at country shows, and on open farms and walking trails.
According to the Health Protection Agency, the risk to the public of catching bovine TB – which constitutes less than 1% of the total number of human TB cases in the UK – is extremely low. But guidance from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to farmers warns that, unlike cattle, camelids can spit a mixture of gastric contents and saliva, which could spread the disease to humans.
The National Farmers Union said farmers were very concerned about the lack of regulation of TB in alpacas, which may spread the disease to other farm animals. Continue reading
Drawing in the crowds as usual will be the 23rd annual Maui Onion Festival Saturday at Whalers Village Fine Shops & Restaurant at Kaanapali Resort.
With continuous entertainment on two stages, it’s always a draw because it’s fun for the whole family.
Highlights include the Maui Onion Eating Contests for keiki and adults, live music, cooking contests, chef demos with free food samples, other food booths, a beer garden and vendors.
Admission and parking are free and the fun activities will run all day long from 9:45 a.m. until after dark.
“Whalers Village signature event since 1990, Maui Onion Festival will be even more dynamic than ever, summoning the creativity of Hawaii’s greatest chefs, and drawing a crowd for free culinary samples and a fun-packed day,” says organizer Lisa Donlon, who is also the mall’s marketing manager.
“Here’s a chance to learn about Maui’s top upcountry agricultural crop through the dazzling interpretations of our island chefs and the great restaurants of Kaanapali. The highlights are many, including prime retail offers, music, and entertainment – which will provide a perfect balance for all that good food.”
Do stroll around the expansive mall with outdoor walkways and check out the Beach Front Lawn area as well as the Center Stage. Continue reading
KAPALUA – Financial challenges facing Maui Land & Pineapple Co. are raising a “substantial doubt about the company’s ability to continue as a going concern,” the company reports in its latest filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission.
Among a number of disclosures in the filing, a group of lenders has declared that a $280.5 million loan for the Kapalua Bay Holdings’ construction of the The Ritz-Carlton Club and Residences, Kapalua Bay is in default. ML&P has invested more than $50 million in cash and $25 million in land for the development project and has 51 percent ownership in the Bay Holdings company.
“The company’s cash outlook for the next 12 months and its ability to continue to meet its financial covenants is highly dependent on selling certain real estate assets in a difficult market,” the filing says. “If the company is unable to meet its financial covenants resulting in the borrowings becoming immediately due, the company would not have sufficient liquidity to repay such outstanding borrowings.”
While the company’s future appears ominous in its SEC filing, Tim Esaki, the company’s financial officer, said Friday that company officials “remain optimistic.” Continue reading