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Sphenisco Newsflash September/October +++Sphenisco  Newsflash September/October +++Sphenisco

C H I L E 

Landau 2 November 2020                                                                                                                  

+++5 years ago on the 30th of January2015, the Cruz Grande port project of CMP (Compania  Minera del  Pacfico  S.A) was approved. At the time, SPHENISCO, together with Chilean environmentalists, drew the attention of President Michelle Bachelet and the relevant authorities to the dangers to the sensitive marine region as well as the serious shortcomings in the environmental impact assessment - without success. 

For unknown reasons, CMP has not started the construction of the Cruz Grande port in recent years. The permit was limited to five years and expired at the end of January. At the request of the NGO Oceana, the Ministry of the Environment/ the superintendence of the Coquimbo Region  informed that the permit has not been extinguished (the arguments for this are for us not comprehensible). Oceana is appealing against this decision before the Environmental Court.

+++Conapach (Confederacion Nacional de Pescadores Artesanales de Chile), the national union of coastal fishermen has taken a stand against the megaproject Dominga.

+++The Regional Environment Agency has organized a campaign to combat rats on the breeding islands of  Pajaros  and is implementing the  measures.  

+++Los Djangos are the indigenous people of the Coquimbo Region. They have now been officially recognised as such and are now receiving special rights. As a group, this also gives them the opportunity to sue against measures and projects.

+++SPHENISCO wanted to start a systematic survey of the current numbers of Humboldt Penguins in the 5 most important Chilean breeding areas in winter or southern summer (in cooperation with Prof. A. Simeone, Universidad Andrés Bello, Santiago, Chile, Prof. G. Luna, Universidad  Católica  del Norte, Coquimbo, Chile). The research should be complemented by telemetric studies on foraging behaviour (in cooperation with marine biologist Dr. T. Mattern, NZ Penguin Initiative, University  of  Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand). Because of the pandemic, the research projects were postponed. The Board of Directors is trying to clarify when the survey can begin.

+++ The various initiatives of Defensa Ambiental IV Region and Alianza Humboldt during the lockdown  are described in the October 23rd article, "Chile Protests in Lockdown".

+++The decision of the environmental court in Antofagasta regarding the megaproject "Dominga" is still pending, since March!!?? 

+++In May, environmentalists reported the Consejo Regional (Regional Government Advisory Board) to the Regional Supervisory Authority (Contraloría  Regional de  Coquimbo), for violating their neutrality obligation (see also Sphenisco News Flash in May). The Contraloría upheld the complaint and deemed the Consejo's  opinion to be unlawful and asked the panel to refrain from making any partisan comments during ongoing proceedings. The Consejo has apologized, referred to the conditions of the pandemic (?) and assured that it did not intend to violate the rights of other institutions. 

+++The complaint against the mayor von La Higuera was also successful. The supervisory authority decided that municipalities may not accept donations from participating companies during ongoing proceedings. 


+++On September 13th, the now traditional Great Species Protection Day took place at the Karlsruhe Zoo. Due to Corona there was less of an audience, and of course the possibilities to present themselves were somewhat limited, but for Sphenisco it was a matter of honor to support our zoo member on this day. Sphenisco’s second chairwoman Christina Schubert presented the association to the public at an information stand, supported by the former volunteer of the zoo, Chantal Trauth. Also this year, Chantal’s hand-crocheted penguins as well as river pebbles painted with beautiful animal motifs were a big seller. And, one or the other bottle of penguin wine found new lovers – also a very good way to report about the concerns of the association and the work in Chile and Peru, and a way to come into conversation with the zoo visitors.

+++Small but very special, and also very committed:  a Linux fan club from Schwentinental (a town in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany) is enthusiastic about the Penguin Museum in Cuxhaven. Now the penguin fans have organized a (virtual) flea market for "computer-stuff". They donate the proceeds equally to the Penguin Museum and for the protection of penguins in the wild, i.e. for SPHENISCO. Many thanks to the Linuxlers and the museum.

+++The interim report on penguin research in Landau is available, see article "Search for the Good, the Right Tone” of October 20 and under vimeo at https://vimeo.com/472268366 (in German).

+++In October, SPHENISCO concluded an agreement with the Zoological Society for The Conservation of Species and Populations (ZGAP)  https://www.zgap.de. The ZGAP initiates or financially supports projects to protect little-known, but highly endangered animal species. In the future, it will also draw attention to the serious threat posed to the Humboldt penguin and will endeavour to raise funds for SPHENISCO projects. 


translated by Erich Greiner

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Sphenisco Newsflash September/October +++Sphenisco  Newsflash September/October +++Sphenisco

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31 August 2020
+++Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Board of Directors has been conferring even more closely with our employee Nancy Duman via zoom. We are surprised and appreciate it very much how creatively and productively she and our partners in Chile continue to work under the extreme conditions of the pandemic (at present there is still a quarantine in La Serena!). In August alone, the following actions were carried out:

+++At the beginning of August, it was discussed with residents of all villages in the municipality of La Higuera on the topic "How we dream the future". The video conferences - with each village separately - met with varying degrees of response and productivity. Nevertheless, many suggestions were made, for example on waste separation, recycling and art made from waste, an annual calendar activities such as the Loco Fest, "Djangos" (indigenous people of the region), a museum respectively an exhibition on "Djangos" and a training in the production of olive oil. In a next step the ideas from the different villages will be pooled. The organizations and associations of the above villages will be involved.

+++On 22 August Alianza Humboldt (Sphenisco is part of the alliance) organized a meeting on the Internet with the topic "Seminar Humboldt Archipelago - Hope for a sustainable development in Chile" ("Seminario Archipiélago de Humboldt-esperanza para un desarrollo sostenible de Chile"). Moderated by Nancy Duman, Dr. Carlos Gaymer (marine biologist from the University of Coquimbo), Dr. Francisco Squeo (biologist from the University of La Serena), Claudio Ibañez (former director of the Coquimbo Region - his government rejected the mega-project "Dominga"), Elisabeth Balcazar (from Caleta Los Hornos), Rodrigo Flores (from Pt. de Choros) as well as Óscar Avilés (president of the association of fishermen from Pt. De Choros) they provided essential information and were discussing with about 200 participants for almost four hours. The conference can be viewed on the YouTube channel of Alianza Humboldt: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4xbN_LWinQ. For September Alianza is planning another seminar on the topic „Environment and Constitution“.

+++On 23 August citizens of the region exposed themselves to "Dominga". In short videos they commented on the upcoming sentence of the Environmental Court in Antofagasta. The statements are part of a planned reportage: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCK4r5L5Ya0Sxa5zxGCH8HlQ/videos

+++The decision of the Environmental Court in Antofagasta concerning the mega-project "Dominga" is still pending. Alianza Humboldt is planning to hold a virtual press conference on the day of the sentence, in which scientists and citizens of the region will be involved.

+++In May, environmentalists reported the Consejo Regional (advisory body of the regional government) to the regional supervisory authority (Controlaría Regional de Coquimbo) for violation of the duty of neutrality.  (see also Sphenisco news flash in May). The answer is still pending. 


+++For several years, Paultons Park in Southampton, England has been supporting the work of SPHENISCO. Once again we very much appreciate a generous donation.

+++The trial phase of the research project to avoid by-catch, which Prof. Culik was implementing on behalf of SPHENISCO at the Landau Zoo, has been completed. At present the results are being evaluated. As reported, the project has attracted an unusually high level of media interest  (see news flash Sphenisco - July).

We have been asked by different sides, including the „Association of Zoological Gardens“ (VdZ), to document the research project. Gabriele and Werner Knauf have started to produce an approx. four-minute film in three languages (German, English, Spanish).

+++ On August 16th a big species protection day was held at Frankfurt Zoo. Due to the pandemic, the activities could not take place as usual. The Frankfurters switched to the internet. They made small videos and thus arranged a theme day on species protection on the internet. One of the films deals with the Humboldt Penguins and goes into detail about the work of SPHENISCO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFj2VjPN2BA&feature=youtu.be


translated by Angelika Veelken

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Landau, 31. Juli 2020

+++Since June 22nd, Professor Boris Culik, from Kiel, Germany, has been testing a warning device (PAL – Positive Attachment Lanyard) on the Humboldt Penugins at the Landau Zoo (s.a., “Penguin Research in Landau”). An acoustic signal is being searched for that will discourage penguins from swimming into gill nets. This research is being done on behalf of Sphenisco, and is generously being subsidized by the Marlow Bird Park. This research has created an unusually high level of media interest. As far as we know, short broadcasts were produced by the radio networks SWR3, SAT-Regional as well as SWR. The Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa – German Press Agency) disseminated the news, which was then picked up and reported by the following newspapers or internet services:  Rheinpfalz (multiple times), Mannheimer Morgen, Frankfurter Rundschau, Welt, Hamburger Abendblatt, Bildzeitung, Volksfreund, MSN-Microsoft News, Arcor and ecoGuide (s.a., Video from SAT 1 “Pinguine als wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiter” – Penguins as Scientific Research Assistants, in German)


+++On June 29th, the City of Landau honored Gabriele and Werner Knauf with the Art and Cultural Prize of the Feldbausch-Foundation. Head Mayor Thomas Hirsch also honored the dedicated service for and from Sphenisco: “It makes us proud that in the City of Landau there are people like Mr. and Mrs. Knauf, who dedicate themselves in such an exemplary manner, who are always ready to pitch in where support is needed.” It is not only the film works of Gabriele and Werner Knauf, but also their long-standing commitment to the Sphenisco Organization, which has devoted itself to the protection of the Humboldt Penguin in the wild, and which is also being kept at the Landau Zoo. https://www.landau.de/Verwaltung-Politik/Pressemitteilungen/Viel-mehr-als-nur-Unterhaltung-Landauer-Filmemacher-Ehepaar-Knauf-mit-Kunst-und-Kulturpreis-der-Dr-Feldbausch-Stiftung-ausgezeichnet.php?object=tx,2644.5.1&FID=2644.5749.1

(s.a. Video OK Weinstraße) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4KQo7rZ_tE

+++Dark clouds hang over the Humboldt Archipelago in northern Chile. The Chilean Supreme Court referred Andes Iron’s complaint against the rejection of the “Dominga” Project back to the environmental court in Antofagasta. A hearing already took place in March. In July, the environmental court demanded the regional Environmental Ministry (SUBPESCA – Subsecretaría de Pesca y Acuicultura), as well as the regional commission for coastal use, take a position as to whether the “Dominga” project endangers biodiversity and whether the environmental protection aspects are compatible with the project. The attorneys for the Humboldt Alliance (Sphenisco is part of the Alliance) protested against this decision, and have called these actions of the court inadmissible. The protest was successful, and the environmental court pulled its demand back.

+++The decision of the Environmental Court in Antofagasta, regarding the “Dominga” issue, is expected in August. On July 27th, three days prior to beginning of the preventative quarantine in La Serena, the Humboldt Alliance therefore organized another demonstration with animal figures in front of the Town Hall in the center of La Serena (see pictures below and a video on vimeo – https://vimeo.com/444592162).

Parallel to these demonstrations, residents of Los Choros and Pt. de Choros “painted” a whale on the beach by using large sea shells [nature painting – si a la vida (yes to life), against the mega-project “Dominga”]; beautiful, definitely a “must see” (see vimeo https://vimeo.com/444623992).

+++Rosa Rojas, the Chairwoman of our partner organization MODEMA, wants to reduce her involvement, due to health reasons. She remains Chairwoman of the citizens’ action group, but wants to delegate the operative business more to Patricia and her husband (both are from Pt. de Choros). This is a more-than understandable step, after Rosa Rojas’ many years of support for nature and the environment in the Coquimbo Region. We thank her very much for her dedication and wish her much luck with her desire to scale down. We are skeptical however, whether her nature will allow her to do so.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

+++For the first time, Sphenisco received a generous donation from Curraghs Wildlife Park, a wildlife part in the wetland area of the northwest part of the Isle of Man, in Great Britian. Thank you very much!

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translated by Erich Greiner

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Landau, 30th May 2020

+++In March, the hearing on the “Dominga” project took place before the environmental court in Antofagasta (see article, “Partial Victory!” of 27. Sep. 2019). During the hearing, the corporation Andes Iron surprisingly announced that it would forgo building the port in Totoralillo Norte, and would instead use CMP Corporation’s planned port in Chungungo. This communication was irrelevant in the current hearing. The decision of the Environmental Court has not yet been reached. Since that hearing in Antofagasta, Andes Iron has employed unfair practices in massively advertising for its mining and port project that was previously rejected by the Chilean Supreme Court. One example thereof is when the regional newspaper, El Dia again printed the results of a methodologically-questionable, previously-conducted and old opinion poll, the results of which claimed that a majority of the populace allegedly supported the project.

During the current proceedings before the Environmental Court, the Consejo Regional Government Advisory Board expressed, without cause and without adherence to social distancing, its support for the “Dominga” project. However, the Consejo Board is supposed to be politically neutral. Because of the violation of its duty to neutrality, the Humboldt Alliance* (Allianza Humboldt), represented by three private citizens, filed a complaint with the regional supervisory authority (Controlaría Regional de Coquimbo). The complaint resulted in the Consejo Board having to explain its actions in the next hearing, and revisit the issue in general. In an edition of the “El Mercurio, Antofagasta” newspaper, it was claimed that many civil society groups supported the controversial project. When the named groups were questioned however, they knew nothing about any support and the putative document that they were supposed to have signed.

+++The pandemic has affected us all; especially however, the poor. The Humboldt Alliance therefore started a support campaign at the end of April to help the coastal villages in the La Higuera community. Through the campaign, those in need were to be supplied with the basic necessities (potatoes, flour, onions, disinfectant and clothing). On April 29th, a pickup brought 50 of these “survival packages” to the coastal village of Chungungo. The vehicle was supplied by the local fishers union. The fishers union also took over the shipment to the other coastal villages. To help finance this campaign, the Alliance began calling for donations the end of May and also started an initiative called “Small Garden” (see picture). It’s been suggested to residents in the coastal villages, that they plant small vegetable gardens. Anyone interested is provided seedlings and relevant information. A video clip about this campaign is currently in process.

+++On Saturday, 2. May, with the support of Defensa Ambiental IV Region, MODEMA transported five trucks-full of water to La Higuera and gave it to the residents. During recent construction work, the water supply of the community was so damaged that the entire village was without water. For days on end, the municipal administration and agencies were not capable of supplying the residents with water.

+++The fishermen divers of the La Higuera community work – like the fishermen divers of other parts of the country – under conditions that are often difficult and harmful to health. SPHENISCO-CHILE wants to clarify with the fishers of the region and Sernapesca (the fisheries authority), whether there is a need for information and training. A working group could be established from this initiative, which would then be supported by the French NGO, “AFEPS” ("Francophone Association for Education and Health Promotion").

+++Encouraging messages regarding 25. April:  because of the pandemic, all the campaigns and events around World Penguin Day had to be canceled. As a small compensation, Sphenisco set up a portal where penguin friends could send each other penguin greetings, and cheer each other up. The response was qualitatively excellent. Creative paintings, pictures, poems, small audio tracks and movies resulted. A highlight of it was the song “Make Our Planet Great Again” (https://padlet.com/nicolebertram/4jyu8qi0o5wf). Quantitatively, there could have been just a bit more participation.

+++Since IMPAC 4 (4th International Congress on Marine Protection Areas), Nancy Duman has had contact with the environmental group Mission Blue (founded by Sylvia Earle, legendary diver and oceanic researcher). Mission Blue joined the Humboldt Alliance the end of May.

+++For June, Nancy Duman has prepared two discussion forums via Zoom on the topics “Humboldt Archipelago and the Port Projects”, as well as “Economic Measures for Overcoming the Pandemic Crisis”. The video conferences will appeal to the people of the region, and particularly those who live in the coastal villages.

+++At the end of May, the Humboldt Alliance published a “Carta Abierta” (public letter) with the title, “Citizens Sound the Alarm Because Of Dominga’s Media Offensive”**. In the letter,

  1. 189 collectives and institutions of the region, 63 private citizens and 29 trans-regional collectives have again pointed out the dangers of the port and mining projects,
  2. False reports and hoaxes created by the company Andes Iron were corrected, and
  3. The partisanship of Consejo Regional (see above, “complaint”) was protested against.

The public letter was sent to the media and national as well as regional authorities. On the internet, the Alliance called for support of the public letter through signatures, and asked that the call to action be circulated further.

+++At the beginning of the pandemic, Sphenisco’s Board stopped the planning of new projects. Currently, the Board is preparing a preliminary examination of how to prevent by-catch. In a series of tests, Professor Boris Culik, of Kiel, would test a warning device at the penguin pool of the Landau Zoo, similar to the device that proved reliable in warning porpoises (s.a. http://www.f3mt.net/index.html). In addition, under the leadership of Professor Alejandro Simeone (Andrés Bello University, Santiago), the planning of a census of the most important Chilean breeding colonies, as well as a study on the foraging habits of Humboldt Penguins in the Humboldt Archipelago ( leadership: Dr. Thomas Mattern, University of Otago, New Zealand), would  be resumed. More details and updates on this subject will be presented at the Sphenisco Members Annual Meeting on 27. June.


translated by Erich Greiner


* Sphenisco is a member of the Alliance

** Ciudadanía en estado de alerta ante ofensiva publicitaria de Dominga

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Landau, 3. March 2020
+++Defensa Ambiental IV Region and other environmental groups have spoken out in advance of the hearing at the Environmental Court in Antofagasta (March 3rd), in order to bring attention to the threatened environmental destruction from the “Cruz Grande” and “Dominga” industrial port projects. Last year, the Chilean Supreme Court in Santiago accepted the legal action by the environmental protectionists against the previous ruling of the Environmental Court in Antofagasta. In it’s ruling, the Supreme Court reasoned that most of the arguments of the critics were valid. The court referred the case back to the Environmental Court with the requirement that it revisit the case and address the specific conditions of the project, and to deliberately examine and deal with the technical and professional objections against the projects. The hearing could take two to three days. It is expected that a ruling will be made within the next month.
+++On Friday, the 14th of February and Saturday, the 15th of February, Defensa Ambiental gathered signatures for the preservation of the “Humboldt Archipelago” in Coquimbo.
+++On Saturday the 22nd of February, Defensa Ambiental IV Region organized a demonstration in Pt. de Choros. An astonishing number of people took part in the march.
no a dominga+++On the 23rd and the 26th of February, Defensa Ambiental unveiled a meter-long banner at the Mall in La Serena, with the title “No a Dominga” (“No to Dominga”) (see photo).
+++On the 24th of February, Nancy Duman of Sphenisco-Chile gave the station “TV National” an interview on the threatened destruction of the “Humboldt Archipelago”. The station disseminated the interview throughout social media, and will continue to report about the conflict.
+++ On Saturday, the 29th of February, Defensa Ambiental carried out imaginative campaigns at five different places in La Serena, and collected 230 signatures in two hours.
+++Defensa Ambiental and Sphenisco-Chile will hold a press conference on March 3rd,,the day of the hearing in Antofagasta.
+++Sphenisco was chosen for further generous donations in February. (s.a., Sphenisco News Flash – December and February). For the first time, Sphenisco received a donation from the Stichting Wildlife Safari Park Beekse, located in Bergen, Holland. The donation was very generous. The park had announced that it wants to support the organization with further contributions. Just as in the previous year, the organization “Penguin Friends of Cuxhaven, e.V.” donated a part of its surplus from its successful work to Spheniso. Thank you very much!
translated by Erich Greiner
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