Japanese tanker attacked off Indonesian island: IMB

Armed pirates robbed a Japanese chemical tanker in South China Sea.

Updated: Sep 06, 2010, 12:59 PM IST

Kuala Lumpur: A Japanese tanker has been attacked by armed pirates off an Indonesian island, the latest in a spate of such incidents in a South China Sea shipping lane, a global maritime watchdog said on Monday.

Noel Choong, head of the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) Piracy Reporting Centre, said the Japanese-owned chemical tanker was travelling from Singapore to China when it was targeted off Indonesia`s Mangkai island.

"The 3:00 am attack yesterday saw the pirates board the tanker and rob the 23 crew on board before the pirates escaped," he said, adding that it was the 27th incident in the region since February.

"We have informed the Indonesian authorities and we have also alerted ships in the area to mount anti-piracy watches as these pirates normally abort attacks once they are spotted."

Mangkai island lies on a busy sea passage running along the east coast of the Malaysian peninsula. It is a major route for ships heading between East Asian nations and the Pacific Ocean.

Choong said there was growing concern over piracy in the area, with the IMB receiving reports of 10 attacks in the past 20 days.

"There is a need for more patrols in these waters as the attacks have increased, he said, adding that the IMB has issued a warning that one or more pirate groups are operating in the area, armed with guns and machetes.”

PTI

Bangalore: In a relief for cultivators
troubled by mealybug pests, a city university has done breakthrough research enabling mass breeding of a `predator`butterfly to help destroy the plant sucking bugs that destroy
economically important crops.

"Indian cultivators for years have been battling the
threat by six species of mealybugs, which reproduce rapidly
and feed on crops like coffee, cocoa, grapes, fig guava,
mango, sugarcane, mulberry, vegetable crops and several
ornamental plants, causing huge crop loss," Dr M G Venkatesha, Department of Zoology, Bangalore University, said.

Mealybugs attack flower and fruits of crops. A single
mealybug lays 500-100 eggs and has a 30 day life cycle. The
menace is estimated to cause a loss of USD 750 million in US
and several millions in India, he said.

Pesticides were not effective as their bodies have a
kind of wax-coated finish which did not allow it to settle on
them. The only method used so far to control mealybugs was
deployment of biological control agents like predatory
ladybird beetles and wasp parasites,which had to be imported.

However, under a UGC-sponsored research project, a
major breakthrough was achieved by successfully breeding a
predator butterfly found in India, under laboratory
conditions, paving the way for mass breeding and deployment on
mealybug infested fields, he said.

The butterfly, also known as ape fly, as its pupa
resembles a monkey`s face, has for years been found in India.
But efforts by many universities and horticultural
universities in the last three decades to grow them under
laboratory conditions for mass breeding had not yielded results.
"These butterflies do not mate in captivity, raising a
huge challenge in terms of mass breeding them for use as
biological control agents against mealybugs", he said.

However, a research scholar in the department has
generated conducive conditions, making it possible to get the
predator butterfly mate in captivity, a major breakthrough, he
said.

PTI