Monday, March 31, 2008

Taiwan Pink Dolphin Training Program

Updated !!!: See MFCU accepting applications for Second Training Course for Volunteer Land-based Dolphin Observers and Interpretation Staff.

The Matsu Fish Conservation Union will be holding two sessions of its annual training program to promote awareness of the plight of a highly endangered Eastern Taiwan Strait population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins Sousa chinensis. The dolphins inhabit the estuarine waters along Taiwan's west coast and are seriously threatened by reclamation of estuarine and coastal regions for industrial purposes; by-catch in fishing gear; 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.

The one-day-training-sessions will include lectures by leading cetacean scientists, researchers and ecologists on humpback dolphin history, habitat, threats and measures that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of the pink dolphin's extinction.

The training program will be directed primarily at persons who would like to participate in our awareness and conservation campaigns. The first two sessions this year will be held a times roughly corresponding with the calming of the coastal waters that begins around the time of the birthday of the goddess of the sea, Matsu, which falls on 28 April this year (lunar calendar 23d day of the third month).

Session 1: 12 April 2008 Providence University, Taichung County.

Session 2: 19 April 2008 Yunlin County, Venue TBA.

All sessions are currently planned to be held in Mandarin Chinese, however, if there is sufficient demand (at least five persons) we will be happy to arrange for an English language course. Note that depending on demand there will be more sessions scheduled throughout the coming months.

For more details please e-mail us:

Updated !!!: See MFCU accepting applications for Second Training Course for Volunteer Land-based Dolphin Observers and Interpretation Staff.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Hushan Hearing Rescheduled to Allow More Preparation

At a preparatory hearing held on Monday 24th March in Wufeng Township, Taichung County, it was decided that the official public hearing concerning conservation measures to accompany the Hushan Reservoir project in Yunlin County, originally scheduled for the following Monday (31st March), would be postponed. Yesterday the Water Resources Agency (WRA) announced that the meeting will now be held on Saturday 26 April. See the Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association website for details.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Environmental sustainability concerns cause Taiwan to free fall on the global tourism chart

What would you rather see ?

This ?

....or this ?

Taiwan has plunged 22 places on the Geneva-based World Economic Forum's (WEF) Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report for 2008.

"Environmental sustainability" was given greater importance this year and Taiwan only managed to come in at an extremely poor 75th in the index of environmental sustainability. Weaknesses in "health and hygiene" (ranking 101st) and "natural resources" (103rd) also contributed to the nation's abysmal score.

Taiwan, with one of the highest levels of biodiversity per square kilometre on the planet should be looking to preserve its amazing natural heritage. Taiwan, with the highest mountains in East Asia, boasts climatic zones from tropical all the way to subarctic tundra. Taiwan is a living laboratory of almost all of Asia's climatic zones. To see what would take thousands of kilometres worth of travel on mainland Asia can be done by traveling just a few hundred kilometres on Taiwan.

Taiwan should be developing its unique natural heritage for ecotourism not trashing it in the race to become the world's leader in per capita CO2 emissions.

See the Taipei Times for the story.

Also see:

The Cost of Taiwan's Development

Taiwan's Wuchi Power Plant - the world's dirtiest

Government to reduce CO2 emissions in Taiwan to 2000 levels

Integrity of the EPA review group under the spotlight again

The Environmental Protection Administration's (EPA) Environmental Review Committee (ERC) has once again come under the spotlight. It is alleged that members colluded with construction companies to approve proposals.

The appointment of the seventh committee in mid 2007 was controversial with all five true environmentalists that served on the sixth committee being replaced by, what many perceived to be, pro-development academics and experts who will likely do the government's bidding on controversial projects.

Six of the 11 ERC members responsible for reviewing the construction proposal for the Heping coal-burning power plant in Hualien County have been accused of taking cash to approve the project.

See the Taipei Times for the story.

Also see: The seventh Environmental Impact Assessment Committee of Great Concern to Environmentalists

Hushan Dam site visit: Photos

For photos of the 3 March 2008 Hushan Dam site visit click here.

Also see: Hushan Dam: NGO site visit.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

NGOs visit the Hushan Dam site

Hushan, as it appears now. March 3, 2008 NGO visit.

One of the five major threats to the Taiwan humpback dolphins is the reduction of the flow of freshwater into their estuarine habitat. The Hushan Dam will reduce the flow of freshwater into the Jhoushui River Estuary. The controversial Hushan Dam Project will provide water to further develop heavy industry within the humpback dolphin's remaining habitat.

On Monday 3rd March 2008, after months of being denied access to the site, several NGOs visited the Hushan Dam site. Amongst the group were the following Matsu's Fish Conservation Union members: Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU), Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, Taiwan Academy of Ecology, and Wild Bird Society of Yunlin.

See Stop Hushan Dam blog for the story.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Taiwan's Pink Dolphin's get some exposure at the Jeju Wildlife Center Workshop, South Korea

Dolhareubang in the snow. The Dolhareubang totem can be seen all over Jeju.

In late February our colleagues at Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association sent two delegates to the Annual Jeju Wildlife Research Center Workshop on Jeju Island, South Korea. Jeju Island, along with Taiwan, Southern Japan, and Southern China are the breeding areas for the IUCN Red Listed Fairy Pitta Pitta nympha. Dr Lin Reuy-shing of the Taiwan Endemic Species Research Institute and Mark Wilkie of Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association delivered presentations on the Fairy Pitta in Taiwan.

Dr. [Scott] Lin Reuy-shing, Assistant Senior Researcher at the Taiwan Endemic Species Research Institute has studied the Fairy Pitta for the last decade and is considered an international expert on the species. Dr. Lin delivered a presentation titled, "A review and perspective of Fairy Pitta research in Taiwan."

Mark B. Wilkie, a South African expat, works as a naturalist for Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, Taiwan. He has been involved with Fairy Pitta conservation in Taiwan for the past five years. He also serves as a super moderator on Birdforum the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds. Mark Wilkie delivered a presentation titled, "Conservation and threats to the Fairy Pitta: The Huben IBA, Taiwan." The presentation included the likely negative impact that the Hushan Dam Project will have on the Fairy Pitta and other threatened species such as the Swinhoe's Pheasant Lophura swinhoii and the unique Taiwan population of humpback dolphins Sousa chinensis.

Literature on the Taiwan humpback dolphins was also distributed at the workshop.

See the Jeju Wildlife Research Center Workshop report on the Stop Hushan Dam Blog.

Friday, March 7, 2008

WSPA membership for Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association

We are delighted to learn that Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association , who serve as Secretariat for our Matsu's Fish Conservation Union, have been accepted as a World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) member society.

"The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) is the world’s largest network for animal welfare. It brings together over 880 member societies in 153 countries and a whole community of individuals around the world who care about animal welfare." - WSPA International

Wild becomes the third Taiwan based WSPA member society. The three Taiwan based WSPA member societies are EAST (Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan); Life Conservationist Association; and most recently Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association. Wild has cooperated with and worked alongside EAST a number of times in the past and they both remain members of the Taiwan National Coalition Against the Hushan Dam.

We congratulate Wild on their WSPA membership and look forward to WSPA and their member societies involvement in the plight of the Taiwan humpback dolphins and other Taiwan issues.