Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Eastern Taiwan Strait Sousa Technical Advisory Working Group (ETSSTAWG)
Group of international scientists formed to advise on the plight of Taiwan’s critically endangered population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins
Dr. Naomi A. Rose of Humane Society International, chair of the ETS humpback dolphin steering committee, directed to form an Eastern Taiwan Strait Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin technical advisory working group, makes the following announcement:
Washington, DC (8 January 2008): An international team of 17 scientists dedicated to the plight of Taiwan’s remaining Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) has been formed, with Dr. Peter S. Ross of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans in Canada (DFO) as its chair. The Eastern Taiwan Strait Sousa Technical Advisory Working Group (ETSSTAWG) will provide expert advice, guidance and scrutiny related to conservation issues for this isolated and endangered population of dolphins, at the request of stakeholders, policymakers, agency officials, and other interested parties. This coastal dolphin population, found only in the eastern Taiwan Strait (on the west coast of Taiwan), was only discovered in 2002 and current estimates place the population size at less than 100 individuals. The formation of the ETSSTAWG follows two international conservation workshops held in Taiwan in 2004 and 2007.
The ETSSTAWG is being launched at the recommendation of the most recent workshop, after participants called on the government, industry and public sectors of Taiwan to take immediate action to protect the ETS population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins and their habitat. Dr. Ross, a research scientist with the DFO, is a marine mammal toxicologist, who has worked on conservation, habitat and health issues of marine mammals. He will serve as the contact person (RossPe@pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca) for all inquiries addressed to the ETSSTAWG. Expert members on the ETSSTAWG consist of scientists from several countries, including Taiwan, underlining the tremendous concern, at both international and local levels, that presently exists about the plight of Taiwan’s humpback dolphin population.
Participants in the recent conservation workshop concluded that the ETS humpback dolphin population faces imminent extirpation if urgent measures are not enacted to protect them and their habitat. The following represents a list of threats that imperil this charismatic species and that need to be mitigated:
- by-catch in fishing gear;
- reclamation of estuarine and coastal regions for industrial purposes;
- diversion and extraction of freshwater from major river systems of western Taiwan;
- release of industrial, agricultural and municipal effluent into rivers and coastal waters;
- noise and disturbance associated with construction, shipping and military activities.
Dr. Ross and the other members of the ETSSTAWG sincerely hope that all parties involved in activities taking place in the ETS humpback dolphins’ habitat will take advantage of the availability of their expertise to address issues affecting the population’s conservation.
Members of the ETSSTAWG:
Jay Barlow (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Southwest Fisheries Science Center, USA)
Robert Brownell (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Southwest Fisheries
Science Center, USA)
Allen Chen (Academia Sinica, Taiwan)
Chin-Cheng Chou (National Taiwan University, Taiwan)
Horng-yuh Guo (Agricultural Research Institute, Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan, Taiwan)
Samuel Hung (Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society, Hong Kong)
Tom Jefferson (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Southwest Fisheries Science Center, USA)
Toshio Kasuya (Japan),
Ching-yu Liou (Taiwan Endemic Species Research Institute, Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan, Taiwan)
David Lusseau (University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom)
Daniel Martineau (University of Montreal, Canada)
Chris Parsons (George Mason University, USA)
William Perrin (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Southwest Fisheries Science Center, USA)
Peter Ross (Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada)
Barbara Taylor (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Southwest Fisheries Science Center, USA)
Bradley White (Trent University, Canada)
Bernd Würsig (Texas A&M University, USA)
Peter S. Ross, RossPe@pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca