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Letter of Concern over Taiwan's Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins - your help is needed!
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(For your information the cc recipients are: Premier Chang Chun-hsiung(Confirmation email will be sent--respond by clicking the left icon), DPP-Frank Hsieh, Yunlin County Commissioner Su Chih-fen, Department of Investment Services, Council of Agriculture, Forestry Bureau, Fisheries Agency, Environmental Protection Administration, Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, Taiwan National Coalition Against the Hushan Dam.)
Letter of Concern: - Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin Sousa chinensis
RE: The precarious plight of the eastern Taiwan Strait population of the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, Sousa chinensis, in the waters off Central Western Taiwan.
The President of the Republic of China,
President Chen Shui-bian.
Cc: Premier Chang Chun-hsiung, DPP-Frank Hsieh, Yunlin County Commissioner Su Chih-fen, Department of Investment Services, Council of Agriculture, Forestry Bureau, Fisheries Agency, Environmental Protection Administration, Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, Taiwan National Coalition Against the Hushan Dam.
As you are aware, the eastern Taiwan Strait population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, Sousa chinensis, in the waters off central western Taiwan is in serious danger of extinction.
It was discovered in 2002 by Dr. John Y. Wang and his international colleagues working with the Formosa Cetus Research and Conservation Group and National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium (Taiwan). Since then, evidence has been accumulating to confirm the critical state of the population. The population appears to be unique and restricted to a small area of coastal waters in central-western Taiwan and the best population estimate show that there are roughly only about 100 individuals in this population. Furthermore, there are clear indications that human activities are causing harm to the animals. This population is facing many threats to their continued existence. Of these, the following were identified to be the most serious: entanglement in fishing nets, reduction of freshwater flow to the estuaries upon whichthey are dependent, degradation of coastal water habitats, and pollution from several sources including heavy industry, agriculture and untreated municipal sewage.
However, there has been little to no mitigation of these threats.
We have been interested in the plight of this dolphin population since its discovery and especially after the report of the 2004 international workshop on this population. This population has also been gaining wider attention in Taiwan and internationally.
We were very pleased to learn that Taiwan's Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins are now considered regularly in the EIAs of development projects. However, it has also come to our attention through local environmental groups that the EIA process is not always based on a precautionary principle towards wildlife or the environment and that the process or its commissioners may be influenced by political, economical or other pressures. Furthermore,the "research" that is cited by pro-development interests is often biased, of very low quality or erroneous. Approving development projects with EIAs that are based on poor or biased research suggests Taiwan's EIA process may not be fair, credible or serious about conservation. Environmental and wildlife conservation must be based on sound science.
We are aware that several major development projects by state-owned and private corporations have been proposed for the coastal waters and regions of central-western Taiwan. These include: the Chinese Petroleum Company's petrochemical plant in the coastal waters off Yunlin County, the Hushan reservoir project on the middle to upper reaches of the Joushuei River, which also threatens the most important breeding area of the protected Fairy Pitta Pitta nympha, the Formosa Plastics Group's steel factory in the coastal waters of Yunlin County, an offshore industrial park in Yunlin County, an offshore wind farm in Changhua County, a coal-fired power plant by TaiPower in the Changbin Industrial area in Changhua County, a coal-fired power plant in Taichung Harbour area.
Although we applaud your government's search for renewable energy sources such as wind power, the erection of the turbines should not overlook the impact such machinery may have on local wildlife such as birds, bats and the dolphins. The energy development plans also appear to be confusing with both wind farms and high-polluting coal-fired power plants being proposed simultaneously. Taiwan is already considered one of the world's leaders CO2 emissions and thus contributing disproportionately to global warming but there appears to be little to no plans to reduce the CO2 emissions but rather the new industrial proposals only moves Taiwan in the direction of contributing even greater amounts of CO2 to our planet. All of these projects will also have a serious immediate impact on the remaining humpback dolphins of Taiwan by degrading or destroying their already limited habitats. We urge that all levels of government in Taiwan take the high risk of extinction of these dolphins seriously and encourage the authorities responsible to provide high priority attention and real protection to these and other wildlife and their environment.
(Organization, if applicable)
A precautionary approach will be one which recognizes that an effective reproducing population should be at least 500 individuals, to protect against inbreeding depression which leads to failure to reproduce enough offspring, and such a low population as presently exists will fall in numbers to extinction.
Should further habitat loss occur, the population will be unable to grow to a safe number.
Should a disease or pollution-related illness strike this small population, it will fall toward extinction very soon.
Taiwan, just as the Continents of Africa and North America, must leave enough wild environments and ecosystems to prevent the further loss of animals and plants.
"Keystone" species are not often successfully identified until severe damage and loss from their eradication has occurred.
The precautionary principle is most important.
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