Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year !

Taiwan Humpback Dolphins: photo courtesy of FormosaCetus

Happy New Year,
and all the best for 2009 !

"Because every green measure, every conservation effort and all the little economies we could make in our daily lives, may look insignificant if we choose to look at the big picture. On the other hand, if we view that big picture as millions of little choices made by people just like us, that's how we can come to understand why it's our own choices that are so important."
A comment posted on Birdforum by James Owen.

High Court Upholds Conviction: Battery of Robin Winkler by Yunlin County Assembly Speaker Su Jin-huang

A press release we've received from Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association* concerning the Robin Winkler battery case.

High Court Upholds Conviction:
Battery of Robin Winkler by Yunlin County Assembly Speaker Su Jin-huang

For immediate release 2008/12/30

Taiwan Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association (台灣蠻野心足生態協會)

On 7 November 2007, Yunlin County Assembly Speaker Su Jin-huang (蘇金煌) assaulted former Environmental Impact Assessment Committee member Robin Winkler (Wen Lu-bin 文魯彬) at an environmental impact assessment hearing held at the Environmental Protection Agency’s (環保署) Taipei offices. The hearing was held to review the environmental impact of the Formosa Plastics Group’s proposed US$5 billion steel plant in Taisi Township (台西), Yunlin County. In October 2008, Su was convicted of the assault and was sentenced to six months imprisonment convertible to a fine. Both Su and the prosecutor filed appeals with the Taiwan High Court. The High Court today dismissed both appeals and upheld Su’s conviction and sentence by the District Court.

While the Courts of Taiwan have now affirmed Su’s criminal culpability, Wild at Heart is concerned that the media and public do not understood the full truth and significance of what transpired at the Environmental Protection Agency 14 months ago.

During the District Court trial Su Jinhuang repeatedly declared that he did not hit (da) anyone. During the High Court trial he changed his testimony and stated that "Winkler wanted to shake hands with me, and I mistakenly thought he wanted to hit me. I brushed him away and carelessly injured him."1 This statement clearly shows that Su made contact with and injured Winkler in direct contradiction of his testimony in his first trial that he did not hit anyone.

Although Winkler suffered considerable emotional distress from the battery and feared for his personal safety given Su’s long criminal record including a conviction for attempted murder for which he was sentenced to seven and half years imprisonment and prosecution for the rape and kidnapping of a minor in 1981, he bears no ill will towards Su Jin-huang and does not seek to have him apologize or pay damages. Winkler nonetheless filed his criminal complaint against Su for the following reasons:

to reveal theviolence and intimidation that is associated with major development projects in Yunlin County, especially those connected to the Formosa Plastics Group;
to expose the negligence and complicity of the Environmental Protection Agency with developers and established local political interests in Yunlin County by allowing a convicted criminal and his associates to assault and batter environmentalists during a public hearing at the Agency’s Taipei headquarters; and
to draw the public’s attention to the devastating effects that nearly two decades of industrial projects by Formosa Plastics have had on the environment and society of Yunlin County, traditionally one of Taiwan’s poorest and most agrarian regions. This devastation has been actively aided by local political interests with their organized crime connections and passively abetted by the negligence of Environmental Protection Agency, which not only has utterly failed in its duty to protect the environment of Yunlin County and the health of its people, but also to adequately safeguard the statutory review processes held in its own premises in Taipei.

All Winkler has ever asked from Su is that Su admit that he battered Winkler. Winkler’s real complaint is that the Environmental Protection Agency has failed in its mandate to protect the land and the people of Yunlin County.

For more information, please contact Wild at Heart Attorney George Chen at 0917-257-207 ( or Huang Hsin-yi (黃心怡) at 02-2382-5789 (

*Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association is the secretariat for the Matsu's Fish Conservation Union.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Update on the case of Yunlin County Assembly Chief's battery of Robin Winkler during a Formosa Plastics Steel Plant Meeting

Tuesday saw the first hearing, and possibly last, in the High Court appeal of the case involving the Yunlin Assembly Chief Su Chin-huang's battering of Robin Winkler, director of Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association and a former commissioner on the Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Environmental Impact Assessment Commission at a meeting at the Taiwan EPA offices on 7 November 2007. The district court gave Su six months convertible to a fine and Winkler's legal team were able to persuade the prosecutor to appeal. However, in Taiwan this could mean anything (it could mean anything in just about any court system these days). Su has basically changed his story from total denial, to saying he accidentally struck Winkler because he was afraid Winkler was going to batter him, and then finally to saying "in the interest of social costs of these proceedings and serving my constituents better by not having to spend so much time in court, I will admit for the record that I intentionally battered him."

Winkler hasn't accepted Su's admission and it seems that the prosecutor doesn't either, because, the record Su made included his denial -- and that record will be available to him and others to use for their spin. Winkler also asked for the printing of the admission in the newspapers and in the same announcement to promise not to use violence against anyone again. Su pointed out that he is a politician and that it wouldn't be good for him to have the admission printed. The judge seem to support the admission being printed but said that the promise went beyond the scope of the case!

Now, Winkler is to propose language, get Su's agreement, and give it to the court within a week. The prosecutor says Su hasn't admitted anything, and is pressing for a harsher sentence. It is doubtful Su will agree to Winkler's terms.

It is a possibility that Su gets something like a year and then is given three years commutation, at which time the record will basically be expunged. It remains to be seen if the ruling Chinese National Party (KMT) will get involved. President Ma hasn't distanced himself from Su after Su was found guilty.

And then again, we could see "justice served" (?) and they lock Su up for a while. If the court doesn't take a strong stand they will be sending the signal that anyone daring to challenge the EPA/scholars/business cabal....well, beating people up -- is okay.

Also see:
Yunlin County Assembly Head Found Guilty of Battery of Robin Winkler during Formosa Plastics Steel Plant Meeting

Second Investigative Hearing into Assault against Wild at Heart Director at Meeting Involving Humpback Dolphins

Protesters accuse the EPA of protecting big business

Environmental activists denounce EPA

For the background and details of the November 2007 incident, see “Yunlin County Assembly Head Su Chin-Huang Found Guilty of Battery of Robin Winkler during Formosa Plastics Steel Plant Meeting” on the Wild at Heart blog.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Taipower shenanigans ?

The world's dirtiest power plant. Wuchi Power Plant, Taichung, through the haze.

Taiwan Power Company (Taipower), with its monopoly on power provision and about 60% of the nation's energy production has had some of its antics brought into the open. During Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association Director Robin Winkler's term as commissioner on the Taiwan Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) Environmental Impact Assessment Commission, the first and second phases of a proposed power plant of Taipower were reviewed. The proposed plant, in addition to being located midway between the world's first and fifth largest power plant emitters of CO2, would have severely exacerbated the already severely polluted west coast of Taiwan, home to the small and unique critically endangered endemic population of Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins. On the day following the subcommittee's rejection, Winkler was approached at the EPA during another Taipower case by a Taipower employee who in a very serious voice said, "what are we going to do? We already signed the contracts to purchase the equipment for the plants."? Taipower has a reputation for having engaged in illegal and irresponsible practices for years. While the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was in power, some of those shenanigans started to come to light. But now that the old Chinese National Party (KMT) is back, the sorts of coincidences reported here are likely to become more commonplace.


Taipower Coal Purchasing Documents Audaciously Stolen on the Eve of Control Yuan Investigation, 12 November 2008

Taiwan's national power company, Taipower, under the leadership of the Ma Ying-jeou Administration, has been alleged to have purchased overpriced fuel coal, causing protracted overpricing of power bills to the country's consumers. Strangely enough, just as Taiwan's national governmental watchdog body, the Control Yuan, was preparing to launch an investigation, the storehouse in which Taipower keeps the files of its external purchasing contracts was burglarized. Even stranger, the only documents stolen in the burglary were the fuel coal purchase agreement documents. The peculiar circumstances of the theft have led to speculation that the burglary was aimed at making evidence disappear.

According to a report in the latest issue of Next Magazine, the Consumer's Foundation had asked the Control Yuan earlier this month to investigate concerns that continuing high power prices, despite a recent 44.65% drop in fuel costs, might indicate foul play. Although the prices of liquefied petroleum gas and fuel oil have both fallen considerably, Taipower has refused to lower power prices, which have gone up twice this year. These circumstances have led the Consumer's Foundation to suspect negligence or malfeasance by Taipower and Ministry of Economic Affairs, prompting the request for a Control Yuan investigation.

The Control Yuan member on duty the day the Control Yuan filed its request, Cheng Jen-hung, formally opened a Control Yuan case with a written recommendation for an on-site investigation. In the lead-up to the investigation, Taipower stated its case to the Control Yuan, but the Control Yuan found the explanations unsatisfactory. Just as the formal investigation was about to get underway, Taipower's document storage room was burglarized, and the document stolen was an important piece of evidence targeted in the Control Yuan investigation. The theft of the document has further fed suspicions that behind-the-scenes forces are at work in the case.

(Translation courtesy of Executive Yuan, Corporate Social Responsbility Center)

A critically endangered Taiwan Humpback Dolphin (bottom left) in the waters off the world's dirtiest power plant. Click to enlarge !

More photos of the Wuchi Power Plant, Taichung, through the haze of pollution.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Another reason to save the west coast: Saunders's Gull

Four wintering Saunders's Gulls wading on a west coast mudflat, 2008-11-30.

Three Saunders's Gulls in the foreground with Black-headed Gulls and other waders in the background, 2008-11-30.

A lone Saunders's Gull center with other waders and Black-headed Gulls around it, 2008-11-30.

The Saunders's Gull Larus saundersi is one of East Asia's most threatened gulls. The global population of Saunders's Gull is estimated at 7,100 - 9,600 and decreasing (A recent paper by Cao et el gives a higher population total but states the increase is almost certainly due to increased survey effort and the paper still shows that the population is fast declining). The IUCN and BirdLife list the species as Vulnerable on the Red List. Between 1500-2000 Saunders's Gulls winter along Taiwan's central west coast.

The Saunders's Gull inhabits estuarine mudflats and so has largely the same habitat requirements as that of the Taiwan Humpback Dolphin. It winters on Taiwan's west coast in the same areas as the humpback dolphins are found. As we stand on the edge of a precipice with the fate of the Taiwan Humpback dolphins in our hands. If we act to save these dolphins now, we may be able to pull them back from the brink, but if we don't and the dolphins plunge over the edge into extinction, species like the Saunders's Gull, will be following in their wake. As you read this on your computer screen, in all probability, many parts of your PC come from factories on Taiwan's west coast where so-called industry and development are pushing these dolphins and gulls over the edge into extinction. You may be on the otherside of the world but the chances are you are part of the problem. You need to speak out now and get the Taiwanese authorities and industry to act responsibly and do something decisive to save the Taiwan humpback dolphins and the other creatures of Taiwan's west coast.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter"
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What's in store for environmentalists in Taiwan's new Police State ?

A Taiwan police officer with his suspect following a DPP rally in Yunlin County.

Wild Strawberries Protest at the National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall in Taipei.

Recent events in Taiwan have shown that newly-elected President Ma Ying-jeou's Government has little respect for or understanding of freedom of speech, democracy, the right to protest, and human rights. Police have brutally attacked reporters and democracy protesters, and taken opposition leaders into custody without charging them. As Ma's regime tightens the screws on freedom of speech and suppresses democracy protests what kind of treatment can environmental activists expect when they voice their concerns to the Ma-led government ?

The visit by a sixty-strong Chinese delegation headed by Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yun-lin earlier this month saw much of Taipei turning into a literal mini police state. It would appear that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Government was prepared to wind the clock back to the days of Martial Law* in a bid to impress their Chinese guests.

Police officers behaved in a manner reminiscent of the Martial Law era. Apart from behaving like baton-wielding-thugs they even rounded up people for waving the national flag. The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights has expressed concern over what it calls "grave violations of human rights" committed by police during the protests.

With over a thousand Chinese missiles pointed at Taiwan and the constant threat of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan coupled with the way China constantly humiliates Taiwan in the international arena it is understandable that many Taiwanese have a distrust of the Chinese and are opposed to visits by Chinese officials to Taiwan while China continues to sabre-rattle and denies Taiwan's very existence as a nation.

In late October, ARATS Vice Chairman Zhang Ming-qing had said during a visit to Taiwan, "There will never be war in the Strait if there is no Taiwan independence." This was seen as a threat and it angered many in Taiwan and sparked a confrontation between pro Taiwan supporters and Zhang.

On Sunday, the Taiwan Wild Strawberries Movement held a memorial service for human rights. The Taiwan Wild Strawberries Movement** is a student movement that sprang up in response to police brutality during the November protests against ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin's visit to Taiwan. The students have been staging a sit-in since November 6th. Police removed the students from outside the Executive Yuan in Taipei on November 7th. The students reformed their protest outside the Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall and are still there. Students are holding similar protests in other Taiwan cities.

Their protest statement is, firstly, that President Ma Ying-jeou and Premier Liu Chao-shiuan must publicly apologize to all citizens for what has happened. Secondly, the National Police Agency Director-General Wang Cho-chiun and National Security Bureau Director Tsai Chao-ming must step down. And thirdly, the Legislative Yuan must revise the Parade and Assembly Law, which currently restricts the rights of the people.

While all this has been going on the Ma-led Government has staged a massive crackdown on opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) politicians and several have been detained.

The previous KMT regime (1945-2000) had little respect for Taiwan's environment and had an extremely poor record for environmental protection. The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) was largely seen as merely a rubber stamp administration. To a point this continued during the DPP government's two terms (2000-2008), two examples being the controversial appointment of the seventh Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Committee of the EPA and the handling of the assault of former EPA EIA Committee commissioner and Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association director, Robin Winkler, at a meeting at the EPA offices. Against the backdrop of recent events it would seem likely that environmental activists can expect to face the same iron wrath of the government the moment they take to the streets to voice their concerns for the environment.

* Following the end of World War II in September 1945 the Japanese colony of Taiwan was occupied by Chinese Nationalists Forces of Chiang Kai-shek [Taiwan had become a Japanese colony in 1895. Taiwan had been ceded to Japan by the Treaty of Shimonoseki following the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895. The Qing Government of China had exercised some control over parts Taiwan since 1683 but had never controlled the whole island. Following the Treaty of Shimonoseki Taiwan declared independence as the Republic of Taiwan. The short-lived Republic of Taiwan was defeated within a few months following the landing of the Japanese Army on 29 May 1895.]. The poor conduct of KMT forces and officials on Taiwan led to tensions between the Chinese and the Taiwanese. On 28 February 1947 things came to a head at the infamous 228 Incident. The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) used this as an excuse to rid Taiwan of its own leadership and intelligentsia by systematically murdering them in a brutal crackdown. The KMT then declared Martial Law in 1949. In 1949 the KMT were defeated by Mao's Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the Chinese Civil War and the KMT fled to Taiwan where they set up their Republic of China regime on Taiwan. The Martial Law period lasted until 1987. This was known as the White Terror. During the White Terror anyone thought to be challenging the regime was rounded up and imprisoned. Many were tortured and executed by the brutal KMT police state.

** The post martial law generation in Taiwan is known as the strawberry generation. Strawberries being soft and fragile. In 1990 the Wild Lily Student Movement sought direct elections of Taiwan's president and vice president and representatives, and it played a part in the bringing about of Taiwan's first ever democratic elections. The origins of the name Wild Strawberries Movement incorporates these elements.

Sign the Wild Strawberries Movement's Human Rights and Democracy petition.

Some photos of the Wild Strawberries Movement protest in Taipei:

Friday, November 21, 2008

Taipei Birdfair 2008

A visitor to a very wet 2008 Taipei Birdfair in Guandu Nature Park

The 2008 Taipei Birdfair hosted by the Wild Bird Society of Taipei was held in Guandu Nature Park over the weekend of November 8-9. Unfortunately it rained through much of the weekend which resulted in a far lower number of visitors than usual. Both local and international birding societies, groups and NGOs were present. The Wild Bird Society of Yunlin provided information on the Hushan Dam-Fairy Pitta issue and the plight of the unique population of Taiwan humpback dolphins.

International groups present were BirdLife South Africa, Golden Gate Audubon Society, Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, Malaysian Nature Society, Singapore Nature Society, Hong Kong Bird Watching Society, Wild Bird Society of Shanghai, Wild Bird Society of Japan, and Bird Conservation Society of Thailand.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dolphins spotted by fishers off Tongsiao Village, Miaoli

The following story appeared on a Yahoo News page [in Chinese] here in Taiwan:

[Summary Translation]

Dolphins spotted by fishers off Tongsiao Village
Yang Yirouh reporting from Miaoli County, Tongsiao Village

Fishers have reported seeing Pink Dolphins in the Baishatun area off the coast of Tongsiao Village. The sightings by the fishers have been welcomed by people in neighboring villages who believe the dolphins could bring tourism and associated development.

The happy fishers, who face the strenuous work on the seas, were not tired at all after having seen the rare dolphins.

One fisher laughed as he said they used to not like dolphins because of the damage caused by the animals to their nets and that they would chase the fish away. But seeing a pod of the animals along the west coast was really a rare moment and a very lucky one at that.

This particular fisher had placed nets about one nautical mile [1.852 km] from the shore and in addition to seeing the dolphins his catch of fish was a good one leading the fishers to agree with those who say the dolphins are harbingers of good fortune.

Fishing within a kilometre of the shore at Mailiao. Nets are a major threat to the dolphins.

It is always good to hear of sightings of these rare dolphins. Indeed, with the right controls, the dolphins do have tourism potential. Because of the dolphins critically endangered status all viewing would need to be done from shore. Offshore viewing would pose too much of a risk to this small and unique critically endangered population.

Scaring on a pink dolphin: Photo courtesy and copyright FormosaCetus Research & Conservation Group

Fishing is amongst the five major threats that these dolphins face. With a total population of around seventy-five individuals the loss of a single dolphin per year, particularly females of breeding age, through by-catch would be catastrophic for the population and would more than likely seal their functional extinction. If we are to save these unique animals from extinction fishing within 4km of the shore within the dolphins little remaining habitat between Miaoli and the Yunlin-Chiayi border will have to be disallowed. Scars and actual sightings of ropes on animals are a strong indication that fishing practices are impacting very negatively on the dolphin population.

Pink Dolphin with a rope around it. The red and black flags or "high flyers" as they are called, mark the ends of a gillnet. The rope looks as if it is likely the leadline of a gillnet: Photo courtesy and copyright FormosaCetus Research & Conservation Group

Additional threats include so-called development. Reclamation work, particularly around Mailiao and Taisi on the Yunlin coast is destroying habitat at an alarming rate. Other planned projects further up the coast will have a similar impact. The degrading of estuarine habitat through the damming of rivers which reduces the flow of freshwater into valuable wetland and coastal habitat has had an impact. The Hushan Dam Project will undoubtedly have a very negative impact on the already struggling Jhoushui River Estuary once construction of this highly controversial dam is completed. In addition, the development of both onshore and offshore Reclamation work at the Formosa Plastics Plant in Mailiao, Yunlin County.

It is time for the authorities to take a serious look at what they are doing to the West Coast. The dolphins are a top predator and umbrella species. Is the total collapse of the West Coast ecosystem really within our long-term interests? Are we not just giving a few very wealthy and greedy businesspeople a licence to rape the coast and we as the people will be burdened with the costs of this destruction for generations to come?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

An upcomming paper of interest: Population differences in the pigmentation of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins in Chinese waters

A soon to be published paper that will be of tremendous interest to those concerned with the plight of the unique population of Taiwan humpback dolphins will be published on December 17, 2008 in Mammalia. This paper, titled 'Population differences in the pigmentation of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, Sousa chinensis, in Chinese waters' provides strong evidence that the Eastern Taiwan Strait population of humpback dolphins are a distinct population - the first population of humpback dolphins with evidence to show it is distinct and isolated from provisional populations in adjacent waters. The paper is by John Y. Wang, Samuel K. Hung, Shih Chu Yang, Thomas A. Jefferson, and Eduardo R. Secchi. An online prepublication version is available for purchase from the publishers.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Yunlin County Assembly Head Found Guilty of Battery of Robin Winkler during Formosa Plastics Steel Plant Meeting

On 9 October 2008 the Taipei District Court found Yunlin County Assembly head Su Chin-Huang (蘇金煌) guilty of battery against Robin Winkler (文魯彬), director of Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association (a member group of Matsu’s Fish Conservation Union The incident occurred after a dispute in the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) last November during a meeting for the proposed Formosa Plastics Steel Plant (台塑鋼鐵) on land to be reclaimed within the habitat of Taiwan’s resident humpback dolphins Sousa chinensis.

Caution: If you can see a dolphin in this photo, it would be in your best interest not to say so: Photo taken at Mailiao by Shichu Yang.

At the meeting, where several participants presented information on the harm that Formosa Plastics had brought and could yet bring to Yunlin County’s society, natural environment and economy, Mr Su suddenly raised his voice to deny the presence of humpback dolphins in the coastal waters in which the project would take place. (Video footage, photographic evidence [see above] and scientific publications {e.g. Wang et al., 2007} clearly demonstrate the presence of the humpback dolphins in the waters near the Formosa Plastics Mailiao Industrial Zone.) Su made threatening remarks and later followed Winkler to the EPA tearoom, where he proceeded to physically assault him.

Environmental groups and others aware of the corruption, manipulation and violence that pervades Yunlin, where Formosa Plastics and the mafia are said to be closely connected, have joined Winkler in protesting against this culture, which puts at risk the lives of those who speak out for its human and nonhuman victims.

However, following the death of former Formosa Plastics chairman Wang Yung-Ching (王永慶) earlier this month, the national and international media grossly neglected the darker aspects of Wang’s legacy, instead hailing him almost unanimously as the “God of Management” who brought only great things to Taiwan. Journalists with a little investigative skill might have bothered to ask the children in the schools in the surrounding area who have been forced in the past to wear masks to ward off pollution-induced headaches; the aquaculture farmers operating on nearby mudflats who have seen their harvests fall or fail since big industry arrived; and the countless numbers who continue to leave Yunlin in search of work and a more meaningful existence, contributing to the considerable population outflow from Yunlin in recent years.

For the background and details of the November 2007 incident, see “Yunlin County Assembly Head Su Chin-Huang Found Guilty of Battery of Robin Winkler during Formosa Plastics Steel Plant Meeting” on the Wild at Heart blog.

Also see:
Update on the case of Yunlin County Assembly Chief's battery of Robin Winkler during a Formosa Plastics Steel Plant Meeting-Dec 2008

Second Investigative Hearing into Assault against Wild at Heart Director at Meeting Involving Humpback Dolphins

Protesters accuse the EPA of protecting big business

Environmental activists denounce EPA

Wang, J.Y., S.-C. Yang, S.K. Hung and T.A. Jefferson. 2007b. Distribution, abundance and conservation status of the eastern Taiwan Strait population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, Sousa chinensis. Mammalia, 71, 157–165.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hushan Dam update

Recent typhoon damage to the Hushan area:- photo courtesy of C.C.Chen

The Hushan Dam project has long been seen as a threat to the humpback dolphins. Once complete, the dam will further reduce the flow of fresh water into the Jhoushui River Estuary degrading valuable dolphin habitat.

The Stop Hushan Dam Blog has posted photos of the construction work in the Hushan area and the damage caused during recent typhoons.

Additionally, there is an update on the citizen's suit against the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) over the construction of the dam.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Action needed to preserve rare dolphin, scientist says

Dr. Peter Ross

Dr. Peter Ross, chair of the Eastern Taiwan Strait Sousa Technical Advisory Working Group (ETSSTAWG) is currently in Taiwan attending Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Roundtable Meeting on the Involvement of Business/Private Sector in Sustainability of the Marine Environment. Ross urged the Taiwanese authorities to urgently list the dolphins' habitat as a preservation zone and to prohibit any kind of development in the zone. Failure to act now would in all likelihood result in the rapid extinction of this unique population of dolphins.

Also see: Action needed to preserve rare dolphin, scientist says

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Nets and Dolphins

Humpback Dolphin with a rope around it: Photo courtesy and copyright FormosaCetus Research & Conservation Group

In our September 9 post, titled Pictures from Mailiao, we showed a photo of nets and then a fishing boat in the close inshore waters off Mailiao. Nets do pose a major threat to these dolphins as shown in this post's photos !

We've received the following photos from FormosaCetus Research & Conservation Group of a humpback dolphin with a rope around it taken on September 7th just west of Mailiao Port's long pier. The humpback dolphin was swimming around and feeding near gillnets [as shown in the photos - the red and black flags or "high flyers" as they are called, mark the ends of a gillnet. The rope looks as if it is likely the leadline of a gillnet.] The rope seems to be digging into the skin a bit and maybe a fairly recent entanglement. If this dolphin can't lose the rope, it definitely will have an impact on it's life. The dolphin has been identified as TW-36.

Humpback Dolphin with a rope around it. The red and black flags or "high flyers" as they are called, mark the ends of a gillnet. The rope looks as if it is likely the leadline of a gillnet: Photos courtesy and copyright FormosaCetus Research & Conservation Group

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Why are we building dams for new power plants ?

The world's dirtiest ! Wuchi Power Plant through the haze (Taichung).

Read the article titled, Emissions policy doesn't add up from today's Taipei Times and then ask yourself the question, Why are we building dams for new power plants ?

Destroying valuable natural areas like Hushan, part of an internationally recognised important bird area (IBA), so new dams can supply huge quantities of water to new and upgraded power plants, and the new heavy industry that those power plants are supplying power to, and in the process increase emissions by up to 40% and at the same time wreck large areas of coastal habitat through reclamation projects and pollution which will likely result in the extinction of the critically endangered population of Taiwan humpback dolphin when we are trying to reduce emission levels because of the very real threat of global warming just seems insane. Wow! What a mouthful. Well, you get the point. Read the article, ask the question, and if you figure out the logic in this, please let us know.

Also see:
Planting trees a PR ploy

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pictures from Mailiao

Developers have denied that Taiwan humpback dolphins inhabit the waters around the Formosa Plastics Group in Mailiao. Evidence clearly shows that these critically endangered dolphins do. Despite official IUCN listing as a critically endangered population and its status as a protected species under Taiwan law, development within what little remains of the humpback dolphins' habitat continues unchecked. The following are recent photographs of reclamation work at Mailiao. This is the area where the video footage was shot and where the photo on the cover of the Second Workshop Report was taken.

Reclamation work extending out towards the coastguard tower clearly visible in the video.

Fishing just off the reclamation area.

An endless stream of trucks dump boulders into the water.

Reclamation work right where the dolphin photo was taken

Reclamation work going on at another site across the river mouth clearly visible from the FPG site.

Also see:

Mailiao Reclamation Site - The Green Area ?

Photos from Mailiao: more dolphin habitat gone !

FPG land reclamation in pink dolphin habitat update