Steps needed to stem accidental deaths of dolphins in North Sea UN

“Placing a clear limit on the levels of dolphins and porpoises being lost in fishing gear could play an important role in guaranteeing a recovery of these charismatic and intelligent marine mammals in European waters,” UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said in a statement on Saturday. The agency reports that members of an international conservation treaty – the Agreement on Small Cetaceans of the Baltic and North Seas (ASCOBANS) – will press the European Commission to restrict the level of marine mammals that die after becoming entangled in nets to 1.7 per cent of their populations as a first step in improving their conservation. ASCOBANS hopes that these “by-catch” limits will be taken up when the Commission undertakes a review of its Common Fisheries Policy, set to be concluded in December 2002. “Studies indicate that in some parts of the North Sea and adjacent waters, such as the Celtic Sea, 6 per cent of small cetaceans are dying after becoming entangled in fishing nets,” Mr. Toepfer said. “This may amount to more than 2,000 harbour porpoises annually in the Celtic Sea. Scientists advise that this level of by-catch is unsustainable and threatens to undermine conservation efforts.” Mark Tasker, the chair of ASCOBANS, has noted that technologies such as “pingers” are available to help fishermen reduce the level of by-catch. Pingers are small devices attached to nets which emit sounds designed to warn marine animals of imminent danger. According to UNEP, tests in British and Danish waters indicate that the by-catch of small cetaceans can be cut by more than 90 per cent when pingers are used. read more

Netflix reaches deal with Comcast to ensure smoother streaming of TV shows

by Steve Rothwell, The Associated Press Posted Feb 23, 2014 2:46 pm MDT Netflix reaches deal with Comcast to ensure smoother streaming of TV shows, movies AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to RedditRedditShare to 電子郵件Email NEW YORK, N.Y. – Netflix has reached a deal with Comcast to ensure that its TV shows and movies are streamed smoothly to households, the first deal the online video streaming service has reached with an Internet service provider.The two companies said in a joint statement Sunday they’re establishing a more direct connection to provide a better service to customers that will also allow for future growth in Netflix traffic. The companies say the arrangement is already giving customers a better experience.Netflix had 33 million U.S. streaming subscribers at the start of the year and accounts for about one third of all traffic at peak times on the Internet, according to research firm Sandvine. As the video steaming company has grown, Internet service providers like Comcast have pushed the company for more structured deals to enable its content to be transmitted smoothly and reduce the strain on their networks.While the companies did not disclose the terms of the deal, Netflix investors will want to know how much this deal will affect the company’s bottom line and whether the costs will be passed on customers. Netflix has been resisting paying fees to Internet companies and this deal could open the door to similar agreements with other providers.Netflix is already experimenting with different rate plans that charge slightly more for households that want to stream its shows and movies on four different screens simultaneously.The deal comes after months of collaboration with Comcast though Netflix will receive no preferential network treatment under the multi-year deal, the statement said.Comcast was ranked as the 14th fastest Internet service provider in January, according to a table on Netflix’s website. By connecting directly to Comcast’s network, Netflix should be able to boost the quality and speed of its video streaming as it adds more customers and prepares to start streaming its content in the ultra high definition format this spring.Other large Internet companies such as Google already pay broadband providers a fee to enable more direct connections.Comcast is the nation’s number-one pay TV and Internet provider under its XFINITY brand. The company said earlier this month that it had agreed to acquire Time Warner Cable for $42.5 billion in stock.__AP Business Writer Michael Liedtke contributed to this report. read more