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?
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