Monday, June 4, 2007

The impact of wind farm construction on the Humpback Dolphins

Another disturbing threat to Taiwan’s Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphins Sousa chinensis is the development of wind farms within their existing habitat. Despite the obvious fact that the construction of wind farms will result in loss of habitat for the already struggling population of Taiwan’s Humpback dolphins, one also has to consider what other impact the construction of these proposed offshore wind farms will have on the Humpback dolphins and other cetaceans in that area.

Pile-driving is a construction related activity associated with many forms of coastal development, including the construction of wind farms. What are the potential effects of pile-driving noise on cetaceans? The sound/noise produced by pile-driving is substantial, and will be heard by cetaceans in the area. “In an analysis concentrating on bottlenose dolphins, it was estimated that pile-driving noise could mask strong dolphin acoustic communications within 10 to 15km and weak communications up to 40km. Radius of masking effects was frequency dependent, with examples being given of a masking radius of 1.2km at 115 kHz and 6km at 50kHz.
(SOURCE: David, J.A. 2006. Likely sensitivity of bottlenose dolphins to pile-driving noise. Water Environ. Jour. 20: 48-54)”

The severe acoustic trauma that will be inflicted upon Taiwan’s Humpback dolphins needs to be considered. What will this do to an already struggling population, numbering less than two hundred individuals, which are confined to a relatively small section of shallow coastal water between Miaoli and Yunlin on Taiwan’s west coast?

Taiwan’s EPA has scheduled a public hearing at 0930, Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at the EPA’s offices in Taipei to solicit input on the following cited subject: Proposed Amendments to Regulations Concerning Wind Energy Development Projects That Require Environmental Impact Assessment.

According to the EPA notice (EPA zongzih #0960039519), “it is impossible to determine whether or not the existing regulations [governing wind energy development projects] also require that off-shore wind energy projects conduct impact assessments.” Given the possible impact on the coastal environment and fishery industry, we should carefully consider whether in accordance with [the regulations] the scope of projects requiring assessments should be amended?

Also see:
CEPD Approves Wind Farm Plans

Sonar And Seismic Noise

More offshore wind farms

Military Practice in Taiwan may be the cause of abnormal cetacean stranding

146 wind turbines in dolphin waters




10 comments:

planetdan said...

I can'te even find a map showing that the wind turbines are out in the ocean. What's up with that? I've been down the coast here in Taiwan and all the wind turbines I saw were on the land, well away from the water! Do you have a map? Do you have any proof? Or do we all just have to take your word for it?

http://www.asiaeast.org/

asiaeast said...

According to this list of endangered animals in Taiwan, found on Wikipedia, the humpback dolphin isn't even there. Only the bottlenose dolphin is in any danger right now. That means the humpback dolphins are far from disappearing.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_protected_species_in_Taiwan

So why all the alarm?

Trust me, I'm not trying to hassle you. I'm just trying to get to the bottom of this!

TNCAHD said...

It would seem Asiaeast and planetdan also of Asiaeast are having a go at us for some reason. The problem is they don't seem to do much reading before they have a go. We told Asiseast that the humpback dolphins were listed as critically endangered on the IUCN red list but that is ignored and a dubious source from Wiki is sited. Here is the link to the IUCN listing: (http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/133710). If you don't know what the IUCN is then do some reading. All cetaceans have been protected under Taiwan law since the early 90s. Don't take our word that the dolphins are protected under Taiwan law. Write or call the [Taiwan] Council of Agriculture, the government department responsible for listings, and ask them what the status of the ETS Sousa chinensis and all other cetaceans in Taiwan waters are under Taiwan law. Also, pick up a copy of the March edition of the [Taiwan] National Parks journal and that has a story on the dolphins giving their listing. Planetdan seek and ye shall find. Keep reading the answers are all out there.

asiaeast said...

According to an article pubished last week in the NY Times:

Asian Dolphin, Feared Dying, Is Thriving

"Countering their expectations, biologists working in Bangladesh have found a thriving population of 6,000 Irrawaddy dolphins, a species restricted to brackish bays and rivers from southern Asia to northern Australia that marine mammal experts had worried was vulnerable to extinction."

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/02/science/earth/02dolphins.html?_r=1

Experts love to thrive on getting everyone all worked up, when often it's found the problem is only something contrived to keep the scientists involved employeed.

Show me some hard proof that the wind turbine farms:

1. Are being constructed in the water around Taiwan
2. Dolphins are really being harmed by the construction process

Until then, I'm sorry to say I won't believe anything your website says.

asiaeast said...

According to an article pubished last week in the NY Times:

Asian Dolphin, Feared Dying, Is Thriving

"Countering their expectations, biologists working in Bangladesh have found a thriving population of 6,000 Irrawaddy dolphins, a species restricted to brackish bays and rivers from southern Asia to northern Australia that marine mammal experts had worried was vulnerable to extinction."

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/02/science/earth/02dolphins.html?_r=1

Experts love to thrive on getting everyone all worked up, when often it's found the problem is only something contrived to keep the scientists involved employeed.

Show me some hard proof that the wind turbine farms:

1. Are being constructed in the water around Taiwan
2. Dolphins are really being harmed by the construction process

Until then, I'm sorry to say I won't believe anything your website says.

TNCAHD said...

Hi Asiaeast,

You're quite welcome to believe whatever you want. Don't just take our word for it. There are many peer reviewed papers on the dolphins that you could look at. Just do a Google search. There are links to many of the papers on this blog, too.

We're not really sure what specifically you are looking for because all the questions you ask are addressed in the articles and credible sources are given. Windfarm development on Taiwan's west coast is not a state secret so we see no reason as to why we have to prove it to you. We provide many links to articles in the press such as this one (http://www.chinapost.com.tw/business/2007/08/30/120486/The-Ministry.htm). The article lists all the players involved and you can contact the companies involved. The projects are overseen by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) and you can contact them for information. We gave a peer reviewed paper as a reference for the impact of pile-driving, an aspect of marine construction that impacts on cetaceans, and refer you to it: (David, J.A. 2006. Likely sensitivity of bottlenose dolphins to pile-driving noise. Water Environ. Jour. 20: 48-54). We believe that these studies by David are relevant. If you don't, it is not our responsibility to show David is wrong, it's yours.

Do loud noises harm human hearing? If they do, then why wouldn't it for say dogs or dolphins? Bangs scare animals away so why wouldn't loud bangs in the ocean scare dolphins away? If we are to take you at your word, "Trust me, I'm not trying to hassle you. I'm just trying to get to the bottom of this!," then perhaps you would like to meet with us for a chat on the dolphins at our secretariat, Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, a Taipei-based environmental law firm. Our contact e-mail is (keephushanwild 'at' gmail.com) as given in our contact on the right sidebar of the blog. After the meeting, perhaps you could even join us on a land-based humpback dolphin survey for you to learn more about this issue. We look forward to hearing from you.

asiaeast said...

Your site runs many articles saying the dolphins are in great danger, when they really are not. To date, no wind turbines have been built in the water around Taiwan. That's why we are asking you to show us proof of any REAL turbines out in the ocean, instead of fooling people into thinking this is a serious issue.

Also, short term contruction of a wind turbine might scare a dolphin away, but that's for their own protection. Once the turbine is in place, everything goes back to normal. You have only proved that the dolphins feel scared during the building process, not that they are really endangered and on the edge of extinction due to wind turbines.

It's called the California Scarecrow effect. Scarecrows scare away birds. The birds feel some short term discomfort during that time. But we have a right to protect our food. We also have a right to build these turbines and keep Taiwan from importing so much energy in the form of fossil fuels. We have a right to clean up the environment on this island, so animals and people can live safely here. While you're busy trying to shut these turbines down, you're also burning tons of coal and oil in the process. Don't tell me you really work for OPEC or something.

You can continue to spread the alarm and get every worked up about it with no real basis in anything you're claiming. Some might believe you. But we feel people have a right to know the whole story. Are you willing to find out the whole truth? I doubt it.

TNCAHD said...

Asiaeast you're quite welcome to your beliefs. We've offered to get together and talk and that offer still stands.

asiaeast said...

Counting dolphins won't make Taiwan green.

While I think it's a great study to pursue, it only tells us the current state of nature. Keep in mind, I like nature quite a bit. Consider that I've logged over a year of my life camping outdoors. Two months in South America. Two months in Europe. Two months in Alaska. And that's only half of it. I especially think using technology, like strapping wireless cameras to the backs of young seals to discover their feeding habitats, a really cool thing. Yet I don't in any way expect these sciences to make Taiwan cleaner.

In the words of Bill Clinton, "It's the economy, stupid." People need incentives to change their habits on a large scale. According to Stanford climatologist Stephen Schneider, "Volunteerism dosn't work. It's about as effective as voluntary speed limits." I'm not saying any one should stop joining their local enviromental group and quit organizing to change the planet. I'm just saying that usually, a minority of volunteer people protest in the streets and higher laywers to fight corporations. A majority of the people don't care or have no idea what's going on. And another minority of the people find this approach outright annoying.

In Thomas Friedman's book Hot, Flat and Crowded he argues that the government needs to step in and change the energy market so that utility companies don't make a fortune off of "dirty" energy. It's this all-you-can-eat buffet style of economics that keeps us consuming. And most people don't like to be told they need to cut back. They don't like to feel like their personal freedoms are being restricted. We live in a market where the more we consume, the better the market functions. As long as we continue to burn "dirty" energy, we not only harm ourselves, but we also harm the dolphins struggling to survive in a world they can control very little of.

Thanks for your offer, but I see little point in talking to you. Anyway, keep up the good work you are doing, just please, don't confuse people on what's really happening out there. I still think you need to correct the content of your site, but as you don't care, neither do I.

TNCAHD said...

We appreciate your comment, Asiaeast. We're sorry to hear you don't want to have a chat.