Wetenschap - 6 december 2001

English summary

The introduction of the Bachelors/Masters system at Wageningen University is still being worked out, to bring it in line with government regulations for the new system.

According to the law, the university if it wishes may force students who have not earned 42 study points to leave. The idea behind this is to weed out slow students who are unlikely to gain their Bachelors degree on time. An advisory committee of students and education representatives will issue a proposal before 15 January next year on where the cut-off point should be placed. Student organisation WSO is not happy with the plan. Anita Jurgens of the WSO argues that students who make a slow start to their study or start with low marks, are not necessarily the ones who will not finish on time. Moving away from home, and living independently are big changes for young people, which often take some getting used to.

The minister of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, Jan Pronk, visited Wageningen last Monday to discuss global climate changes with students.

During the discussion, organised by two critical student groups OtherWise and Stichting Ruraal Wageningen (RUW), Pronk voiced his concern that while it is the rich countries that cause the most pollution, it is the poorest countries which suffer most from the damaging effects of their actions. He added: "I very much regret that environmental and tropical courses have disappeared from Wageningen University, and that knowledge of tropical areas is also being lost. Wageningen had an international advantage in this area, and that advantage is being lost."

Young fish can reach maturity using cheaper food with a supplement added.

L-carnitine is present in most adult animals, and helps transport fats to the places in cells where they are burned. Rodrigo Oz?rio spent five years researching the diet of the African catfish at the Fish Culture and Fisheries group, and received his PhD at the end of November. He concluded that by adding L-carnitine to a fat-rich diet of young fish, they can be fed more cheaply on a diet which is also more environment friendly. Fish that burn fats release water and carbon dioxide as waste products, whereas those that eat protein excrete ammonia. According to scientists L-carnitine helps with fat burning in fish, but not in humans.

Researchers at the Netherlands Institute for Fisheries Research (RIVO) have collaborated with fisheries institutes in Germany, Belgium and the UK to develop shrimp nets which allow fish to escape.

One of the problems caused by shrimp catching is that small plaice and cod fish are also caught in the nets, leading to a further decline in the already dwindling North Sea fish populations. The new net incorporates a sieving function. Shrimps and fish pass first into a cylindrical net. Within this net is a screen with a finer net, through which the fish cannot pass. They are then diverted through an escape hole back to the open sea. The shrimp pass through the screen into captivity. Denmark already uses this system successfully.

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