Friday, February 27, 2009

Groups urge COA to protect at risk Chinese White Dolphins

Taiwan Humpback Dolphin mother and calf. Unless something meaningful and decisive is done now to save these unique dolphins this is a picture of the last generation of Taiwan Humpback Dolphin (photo courtesy of FormosaCetus).

The China Post:- "Three conservation groups yesterday petitioned the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture (COA) to act to safeguard the critically endangered Chinese White Dolphin from becoming extinct in Taiwan waters."

We do appreciate it when the media highlights the plight of the Taiwan Humpback Dolphins. In this article perhaps a few comments are necessary for clarity. The article states that three conservation groups petitioned the COA. A total of eight NGOs were involved:- Taiwan Academy of Ecology, Taiwan Sustainable Union, Taiwan Environmental Protection Union, Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, Wild Bird Society of Yunlin, Changhua Coastal Conservation Action, Matsu’s Fish Conservation Union, and Taiwan Friends of the Global Greens.

The Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin (Sousa chinensis) [AKA Chinese White Dolphin, Pink Dolphin] has a wide distribution from the east coast of South Africa up along the African east coast then across following the shallow coastal waters of the Arabian Sea on through India and the Bay of Bengal, down into South East Asia to northern Australia, and across into south east China and western Taiwan. The Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin is listed on the IUCN's Red List as Near Threatened. The unique population of these dolphins found along Taiwan's central-west coast is arguably the most threatened population of dolphins on the planet and this unique population is known as Eastern Taiwan Strait (ETS) Humpback Dolphin subpopulation and it is listed in the IUCN's Red List as Critically Endangered. The population size of these dolphins is less than a hundred. Analysis of the data collected during 2007/2008 tends to point at a figure of likely less than seventy.

The [Taiwan] COA is not able to list the dolphin as 'critically endangered.' Only the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), the world body responsible for the Red List of protected species can do that. The COA can list the dolphin as a protected species in Taiwan. All cetaceans [whales and dolphins] are protected in Taiwan so the listing of the humpback dolphin as a protected species is nothing new. This dolphin has been listed as protected for years and that is the very point that conservation groups are making*. These dolphins have been listed as protected under Taiwan law for years but yet the Taiwan government has failed to take any concrete steps to actually protect them.

In early 2008 the Eastern Taiwan Strait Sousa Technical Advisory Working Group (ETSSTAWG) was established [also see Eastern Taiwan Strait Sousa Technical Advisory Working Group]. ETSSTAWG is a working group of some of the world’s top marine mammal scientists that offer expert guidance in supporting the conservation of the beleaguered population of ETS humpback dolphins in Taiwan.

After two international workshops [2004 & 2007] on the the ETS Humpback Dolphins, advice from ETSSTAWG, and both local and international petitions and protests, the government, despite its so-called concern for these dolphins, has failed to take any concrete steps to protect these unique dolphins and their habitat and in so doing are actively contributing towards their functional extinction by their complacency. Unless something meaningful to protect these dolphins is done now, these dolphins will be very soon gone forever !

Also see:
PRESS RELEASE: Conservation Groups Push Harder for Government Action to Save Dolphins

Taiwan Humpback Dolphin-Information Sheet

Taiwan Humpback Dolphin Pamphlet

* Indo-pacific Humpback Dolphins are found around the Taiwan-controlled Kinmen Island just off the coast of China's Fujian Province. The Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin was listed by the [Taiwan] Council of Agriculture (COA) as protected because of these dolphins occurring in Taiwan waters. This listing predates the 2002 discovery of the Eastern Taiwan Strait Humpback Dolphins by several years so the listing of the humpback dolphin as a protected species by the COA is nothing new.

No comments: