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U.S. Navy eyes greater presence in Arctic from 2025

By Andrea Shalal WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Navy is mapping out how to expand its presence in the Arctic beginning around 2020, given signs that the region's once permanent ice cover is melting faster than expected, which is likely to trigger more traffic, fishing and resource mining.

Canada agrees to work to prevent fishing in High Arctic until there's more study

Canada and four other Arctic nations have agreed to work toward a deal to block commercial fishing in the central Arctic Ocean until more is known about the potential of the resource. The agreement with the United States, Russia, Denmark and Norway was reached late Wednesday in Nuuk, Greenland, after three days of talks. "The participants recognized the need for interim precautionary measures to prevent any future commercial fisheries without the prior establishment of appropriate regulatory mechanisms," said a news release issued from Nuuk.

Polar bears join natural wonders at Google Maps

Google on Thursday added polar bears to the natural splendor people can glimpse from the comfort of their homes at the Internet giant's free online mapping service. Members of the Google Maps team joined forces with non-profit group Polar Bears International to venture into tundra in a remote part of Canada's Churchill, Manitoba, late last year for images of the majestic animals waiting for sea ice to freeze. Polar bears range the tundra in quests for food and mates.

Canada agrees deal preventing fishing in High Arctic until there's more study

Canada and four other Arctic nations have agreed to work toward a deal to block commercial fishing in the central Arctic Ocean until more is known about the potential of the resource. The agreement with the United States, Russia, Denmark and Norway was reached late yesterday in Nuuk (NOOK), Greenland. Disappearing sea ice is opening up new waters at the top of the globe to potential commercial exploitation. Scientists say not enough is known about the fish stocks and how they're being affected by climate change.

Madagascar seizes Tanzanian ship with protected rosewood

Madagascar authorities have seized a stricken Tanzanian vessel laden with thousands of logs of the rare and precious red ruby coloured rosewood, police said Wednesday. The vessel carrying 2,135 logs of the prized wood was found stranded on a beach of the island nation where logging has been restricted and export is now banned to save the endangered tree. "It was a Tanzanian ship that had developed a technical problem," the director of police security and intelligence Colonel Anthony Rakotoarison told AFP.

Sub-Saharan desert area affected by climate change: U.N. official

A U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Africa's semiarid Sahel region says climate change has triggered a "chronic emergency" there, causing food insecurity and other humanitarian challenges that require long-term international support. "Even after a couple of years without a major catastrophe, we have more people vulnerable" in the region, Robert Piper, the 47-year-old Australian coordinator, said in an interview Tuesday with Kyodo News, emphasizing the need to address the long-term challenges of climate change and population growth.

Scottish skier dies after 600-metre Alps fall

A Scottish holiday-maker died Tuesday after plunging 600 metres (1,970 feet) while skiing in the French Alps, mountain rescue officials said. The man, aged about 30, was skiing with a friend around mid-day at a height of about 3,100 metres (10,170 feet) at the summit of Mont Buet in the Giffre massif. "He passed through a ledge of snow and fell 600 metres on the north face," a rescue worker said. His fellow skier, another Scotsman also aged about 30, avoided the fall and was unharmed. Police had opened an investigation to determine the cause of the accident.

Bolivia to invest $695 mn in gas projects

La Paz, Feb 25 (EFE).- A total of $695.87 million will be invested in natural gas projects across Bolivia this year, state-owned oil company YPFB said. One of the projects included in the investment plan is the Gran Chaco liquids separation plant in southern Bolivia. The $608.9 million Gran Chaco plant is being constructed by Spain's Tecnicas Reunidas, or TR, YPFB said in a statement. A total of $197.6 million is being invested in the project this year, the state-owned oil company said, adding that the plant is expected to be completed in September.

Bolivia to invest $695 mn in gas projects

La Paz, Feb 25 (EFE).- A total of $695.87 million will be invested in natural gas projects across Bolivia this year, state-owned oil company YPFB said. One of the projects included in the investment plan is the Gran Chaco liquids separation plant in southern Bolivia. The $608.9 million Gran Chaco plant is being constructed by Spain's Tecnicas Reunidas, or TR, YPFB said in a statement. A total of $197.6 million is being invested in the project this year, the state-owned oil company said, adding that the plant is expected to be completed in September.

Norway plays down conflict risk in the Arctic

Norway's intelligence service played down the risks of conflict in the Arctic Monday, arguing that reports of a scramble for the region's oil and gas were more myth than reality. "International interest in the region increases as the ice melts and several actors from outside the Arctic want to access the region. This has triggered speculation in recent years over a future rush for resources and heightened risks for conflicts," the Norwegian Intelligence Service (NIS) said in its annual threat assessment.
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