Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lawmaker rejects calls to protect ‘Matsu’s fish’

Today’s Taipei Times carries an article titled Lawmaker rejects calls to protect Matsu’s fish. According to the article, “Despite calls to save humpback dolphins living off the nation’s west coast, several lawmakers from the region asked environmental protection activists yesterday not to interfere with economic development. The article goes on to say that Non-Partisan Solidarity Union Legislator Yen Ching-piao had said “Although environmental protection is crucial, it is more important to carry out a policy that helps local development.” Clearly to these legislators, economic development is held above all else.

The construction of the Kuokuang Petrochemical Park will create a barrier in the middle of the unique Taiwan pink dolphins range which is confined to the inshore waters of the central-western Taiwan coast. The Kuokuang Petrochemical Park will effectively divide the dolphins’ home range into two parts and will thus divide the population of dolphins into two separate smaller populations. With a total population of around 60-70 animals now being split into two this will inflict such a devastating blow to these unique dolphins that it would be impossible for the dolphins to recover. The unique Taiwan pink dolphins were listed as Critically Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) in 2008. The critically endangered category is just one step away from extinction. Both local and international cetacean experts have warned that the dolphins are doomed if the construction of the Kuokuang Petrochemical Park goes ahead.

While legislators, the EPA, Kuokuang Petrochemical Technology Co (see: Kuokuang rejects ‘eco-corridor’) and a host of others argue the merits of constructing an “eco corridor” that will possibly serve as a link between the northern and southern areas of their divided habitat we need to note that the opinion of credible cetacean experts is that a corridor won't work and that a similar corridor failed in Hong Kong.

The financial benefits of the Kuokuang Petrochemical Park can only but be seen in the short term and will benefit only a few elite. Will it be relevant in a world 50 years from now. I doubt it. The Kuokuang Petrochemical Park project will see Taiwan’s CO2 emissions increase by six to eight percent. At a time when the world is trying to decrease their carbon emissions Taiwan is forging ahead with a project that will increase its CO2 emissions by a whopping 6 percent at the minimum. While they about it they will doom the Taiwan pink dolphins and pump horrendous quantities of toxins into the surrounding water, air and soils. Ultimately who is going to pay for this mess? It will be the citizens of Taiwan, both human and non human.

Taiwan doesn't need the Kuokuang Petrochemical Park. Taiwan needs responsible government, and sustainable economy and environment. Taiwan needs pink dolphins, clean air, clean water and a future for all its citizens.