Thursday, June 4, 2009

Military Exercise at Daan River Mouth

A 155mm howitzer crew prepares to fire their gun out to sea in a live-fire exercise in Taiwan's Matsu Islands.

It has come to our attention that Taiwan's Air Force and Army held a live-fire military exercise in early May at the mouth of the Daan River with targets being well within 3km from shore (some as close as about 1 km from shore). The Daan River mouth is a location where the IUCN Red-listed critically endangered Taiwan Humpback Dolphins have been seen and recorded on quite a few occasions. It is very disappointing to learn that the military did this without any consideration for the Taiwan Humpback Dolphins especially since they had undertaken in an earlier meeting to take into account the critically endangered population of Humpback Dolphins when conducting exercises along the west coast.

Missiles were fired at targets from helicopters and possibly from other sources. According to locals, the exercise was planned to last for ten days but after local fishermen protested, it was reduced to three days and then finally to a single day. Even a single day of blasting the known habitat of the critically endangered Taiwan Humpback Dolphins has got to be seen as grossly irresponsible and dangerous.

The main stimulus for this exercise was to burn off excess money and weapons nearing their expiry date. The military could have reduced their impact on dolphins considerably by just moving the exercises approximately 10km out to sea or only north to Hsinchu where artillery exercises often fire into waters where the critically endangered dolphins have not been seen or recorded.

Also see:
Taiwan military fires directly into critically endangered humpback dolphin habitat

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