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ARGENTINA: Legal Reform on Shad

BUENOS AIRES - Argentine environmentalists are fighting the changes approved Nov. 12 on a fishing law passed in 2003, with the consensus of local residents and fisherfolk, for the sustainable exploitation of the Paraná River's fish resources.

The Proteger Foundation and the Friends of the Earth Federation of Argentina said the senate of the central province of Santa Fe, where the Paraná serves as a border, modified the law under pressure from the fish processing industry, which exports thousands of tons of shad, or sábalo (Prochilodus platensis), to Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia and Nigeria.

The changes to the law allow catching smaller fish, which scientific studies indicate are fish that have not yet reproduced.

On Nov. 16, the activists issued a call to send faxes to the Santa Fe lawmakers to press them to annul the changes approved by the senators.


GUATEMALA: Bamboo Instead of Coffee

GUATEMALA CITY - The Guatemalan authorities have approved a project for large-scale cultivation of bamboo, with support from the government of Taiwan, deputy agriculture minister Ramiro Pérez told Tierramérica.

Says Pérez, bamboo ''could even be a good substitute for coffee,'' a traditional crop and export of Guatemala, but just barely emerging from a long and acute crisis brought on by plummeting international coffee prices.

The Taiwanese project would seek to multiply the 80 bamboo plantations existing today, and promote planting of some 1,200 varieties, which are classified according to their use: food, furniture, paper or construction material.

Derick Calderón, president of the Guatemalan Bamboo Association, explained that the plant is ''innovative, abundant and low-cost for supplying the population's demand for housing, especially in rural areas.''

Another virtue of bamboo, whose stalks are hollow, is that it can be cut back periodically, regenerating itself after the first harvest.


COLOMBIA: Government Pushes Ecotourism

BOGOTA - The number of visitors to Colombia's national parks this year quadrupled the number reported in 2002, Environment Minister Sandra Suárez said Nov. 16 as she launched the National Policy to Develop Ecotourism.

From January to September 2002, there were 79.067 park visitors, and in the same period this year there were 320,793, she said.

According to President Alvaro Uribe, this increase is the fruit of the policy for bolstering all domestic tourism by re-establishing security along the civil war-torn country's highways, a policy implemented by his government when he took office in 2002.

Uribe praised the Posadas Nativas program -- in which tourists are received in the homes of the local population -- of the Vice-Ministry of Business Development, which is promoting 429 projects in regions with ecotourism potential.

Colombia is considered an ideal country for ecotourism because it is one of the top five nations in the world in terms of biodiversity, natural beauty and variety of landscape.

* Source: Inter Press Service.

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