Monday, September 17, 2007

International Workshop Focuses on Plight of Taiwan's Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin

Workshop Press Conference Sept 7th.

The following is a release from the Humane Society of the United States:

International Workshop Focuses on Plight of Taiwan's Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin

Taipei (September 12, 2007): Taiwan's unique Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin population faces imminent extinction if measures are not taken to protect them and their habitat from a number of serious threats, a group of international experts warned last week in Changhua City. The recent demise of the Baiji river dolphin in China's Yangtze River gives a particular sense of urgency to concerns about the fate of Taiwan's humpback dolphins. The humpback dolphin is a fish-eating mammal that lives in shallow estuaries and nearshore waters of western Taiwan. Surveys suggest that only 100 individuals remain. This animal is especially vulnerable because it relies on coastal habitat shared by Taiwan's people and industry.

The humpback dolphins were the focus of an international workshop held in Changhua City on 4-7 September 2007. Participants included local dolphin researchers, conservationists and marine engineers, as well as experts from Canada, the United States, Japan, Brazil, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong. Officials from government agencies, representatives of academic institutions and members of local conservation groups provided a grim picture of the state of the coastal marine environment along the west coast of Taiwan:

* More than 30% of the remaining dolphins bear serious wounds or scars caused by encounters with fishing gear, vessels or other hazards in coastal waters.
* Dolphin habitat is being destroyed by land reclamation in estuaries, sand mining, and reduced river flow into coastal estuaries.
* Pollution discharges from industrial, municipal and agricultural sources threaten the health of dolphins and their food.

The expert group called on the Taiwanese government to proceed with a declaration of important habitat for the humpback dolphins; carry out public evaluations of existing and planned projects that may impact the humpback dolphins and their habitat; mitigate projects that may impact the dolphins and their habitat using best available methods; prohibit the use of gill nets and trammel nets in nearshore waters; limit tourism focused on humpback dolphins to land-based viewing; and disclose data related to pollutant concentrations and environmental status.

Only through the concerted efforts of individuals, organizations, municipalities, central government agencies and industry will this distinct animal survive.

Also see:

Report of the 2nd International Workshop on Conservation & Research Needs of the Eastern Taiwan Straight Population of Indo-Pacific humpback Dolphins

Taiwan Humpback Dolphin Workshop (2007) - Press Release

The Second International Workshop on the Taiwan Humpback Dolphins

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