Saturday, June 30, 2007

CEPD Approves Wind Farm Plans

This past week, the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) approved plans for the development of wind farms in what appears to be primarily Taiwan humpback dolphin habitat. This is a very worrying development.

Also see:
The impact of wind farm construction on the Sousa Dolphins

CEPD approves power plants

Wind turbines show great promise

More offshore wind farms

Sonar And Seismic Noise

Time to send another letter-Our Letter of Response to the Council of Agriculture’s Letter

Clearly, the Taiwan Council of Agriculture’s response to our letter of concern doesn't address our concerns over the plight of the Taiwan population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins at all. Their letter only gives a brief outline of cetacean conservation efforts in Taiwan since 1981 and doesn't address any of the threats facing the Taiwan population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins.

Please assist us in our campaign to save the Taiwan population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin by sending the following letter to the Taiwan Government requesting that they do address the problem.

How to send:

Please feel free to write your own letter or cut and paste the following letter and add your name, location and organization (feel free to add your own comments), and email it to Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian.

To: ,

cc to: , , , , , , , , ,

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.

RE: The Council of Agriculture’s response to our letter of concern over the plight of the eastern Taiwan Strait population of the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins.

The President of the Republic of China:
President Chen Shui-bian.

Cc: Premier Chang Chun-hsiung; Democratic Progressive Party Presidential Candidate, Frank Hsieh; Yunlin County Commissioner Su Chih-fen; Department of Investment Services; Council of Agriculture (COA), COA Forestry Bureau, COA Fisheries Agency, Environmental Protection Administration, Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, Taiwan National Coalition against the Hushan Dam.

Dear Sir,

Thank you for tasking the Council of Agriculture to respond to our letter of concern over the plight of the eastern Taiwan Strait population of the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins. However, after reading the Council of Agriculture’s response, we are even more concerned over the plight of Taiwan’s Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis). The Council of Agriculture only gives a brief outline of cetacean conservation efforts in Taiwan since 1981 in their letter and doesn’t address our concerns over the plight of the Taiwan population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins at all.

The letter received from the Council of Agriculture only serves to further our fears that the plight of Taiwan’s Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins isn’t being taken seriously by the Taiwan Government and that this unique population of a particularly vulnerable species is being sacrificed for more heavy pollution-generating industrial development along Taiwan’s west coast that will only serve to increase Taiwan’s carbon emissions at a time when nations should be focusing on decreasing them, and that the further development of the west coast will only be of short-term financial benefit to a select few and have no long-term benefit for the people of Taiwan.

We urge the Taiwan Government to act responsibly and take immediate action to safeguard this unique population that is only found in Taiwanese waters and protect what little remains of West-Central Taiwan’s natural heritage by halting projects such as the Hushan Reservoir and the further planned development of heavy industry along the west coast, and make a stand on the need for clean emission-reducing development and give priority to the protection of Taiwan’s remaining natural resources. We understand that your Council of Economic Planning and Development has given the preliminary go ahead on a number of wind turbines in the areas including those where the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins have been seen most often, in fact, according to news reports the majority of the prospective wind turbines will be placed in the middle of the main distribution of these dolphins. This indicates that either your government is violating its own law (Basic Environmental Act) by not considering the dolphins at this stage of planning, or that there is a disturbingly high level of ignorance as to the existence of and dangers to these animals.

Yours sincerely,



(Organization, if applicable)

The June 29 EPA Hearing

At yesterday's environmental impact assessment meeting, the EPA said they will be responding before the end of July to our letter of intent to sue, but they maintain that they have no legal authority to stop the construction of Hushan Dam at this time. We are continuing to look into the possibility of filing an injunction.

Also see:
Hushan Dam EPA Hearing
Environmentalists give the EPA sixty days to stop Hushan
NGOs set to take on the EPA

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Your Help is Needed-Send a Letter to Taisei Corporation

Please visit the Hushan Dam blog and send a letter to Taisei Corporation voicing your opposition to the construction of the Hushan Dam.

Hushan Dam EPA Hearing

The long awaited Hushan Dam EPA hearing has been scheduled for Friday, 29 June 2007. If the issue will actually be discussed remains to be seen. Details of the meeting are as follows:

EIAC Plenary Meeting Scheduled for Friday, 29 June 2007
English Summary of Agenda

The 152nd meeting of the environmental impact assessment commission of Taiwan’s Environmental Protection Agency will be held at the EPA headquarters in Taipei at 0930 on 29 June 2007.

This year has been an unusual one for the commission in many ways. One is the low number of meetings held. According to the EPA’s regulations the meetings are in principle to be held once a month, however this year only three meetings have been held.

Scheduled for Friday’s meeting are the following items:

1. Review minutes of meeting No. 151. Even these reviews are controversial as the EPA has been refusing to include comments to case decisions provided by commissioners despite a ruling by the previous Minister (who is also chair of the commission) that all submissions by commissioners shall be included in the minutes.

2. Review discrepancy report on the Jhangbin Wind Farm. The developer, a Taiwan affiliate of a German investment bank, decided that its turbines were too close to those of Taipower’s and applied for a change in position of two turbines. The subcommittee approved the change with the condition that the developer take on the added responsibility of monitoring for the impact of the turbines on the reproduction of birds in the area, in particular members of the Family Charadriidae.

3. Review proposed development of a 14.7294 hectare marble open pit mine in Hualian County with anticipated annual production of 216,000 metric tones. There are a number of apparent irregularities in the administration of this case as well as some substantive points that the commissioners raised at the previous meeting. The chair during that meeting directed that the EPA staff look into the issues and report back to the plenary meeting. However, the minutes for the current meeting only include a simple statement that “this case will be reserved for further discussion at the next meeting”. None of the points or questions raised by the commissioners are discussed in the agenda.

4. Discrepancy comparisons. These are cases where the developer has proposed a change, but the change is so insignificant that the EPA believes a full discrepancy report (or a new EIA) is unnecessary. For this meeting, two reports are on the agenda: a housing development in Taijhong county and a redesign of a roof of the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium, Pingtung, Taiwan. The former case is controversial on account of the EPA’s interpretation of article 16bis of the EIA Act. Under the law projects that have been delayed more than three years beyond the date of their original approval (not original EIA) must submit what is known as a “current discrepancy report” which is nearly tantamount to redoing the EIA from scratch. The EPA has stated that this article does not apply to the housing development as the housing development was approved prior to the effective date of the EIA Act. Commissioners have questioned whether this is an example of selective enforcement that favors the developers.

5. Dongshan Landfill. The EPA has finally responded to requests filed by local environmental groups in Tainan county regarding what they allege was the illegal approval by the local Tainan County Environment Protection Bureau of an industrial waste landfill in an area that drains into the Hutou Mountain Reservoir. Commissioners raised this at the plenary meeting held in January this year and the EPA has finally responded. At first the EPA declined any involvement saying that the matter belonged to the jurisdiction of the local EPB. When Commissioners cited article 3 of the Organic Act of the Environmental Protection Administration, the EPA was forced to admit it has jurisdiction. The EPA, in preparing for this meeting has given a detailed report on the actions being taken to follow up on the Dongshan Landfill.

6. Extemporaneous motions from the previous meeting

As the chairman cut the last meeting short, seven topics were not discussed despite the presence outside the EPA of representatives from over a half dozen environmental groups from around the nation. The motions included

1) request for the plenary session to rule on the decision of the subcommittee reviewing the Hushan Reservoir to order the developer to cease work on the project until controversies are cleared up.
2) request for a report on why the EPA is not aggressively fining Formosa Plastics for its violations of commitments contained in its environment impact assessment reports.
3) request for a report on how the EPA is responding to requests from representatives of the Losheng Sanatorium to scrap the original approval based on article 123 of the Administrative Procedure Act.
4) request for explanation why the EPA has failed to put several major cases that have been decided upon by subcommittees on the agenda of the plenary committee – the implication being that the EPA is working at the request of the developer and/or the Executive Yuan to delay the cases until the next session of the Commission (the term of the current commissioners ends on 30 July 2007 and although most of the controversial commissioners are eligible for reappointment, the reports in the newspaper indicate that none of the commissioners will be reappointed).
5) request for explanation as to why the EPA will not make public information about companies that violate of environmental laws and EIA commitments.
6) request for EPA to advise on how to compel government agencies to conduct a policy impact assessment for the government’s WiMAX (Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access) project.
7) request for an explanation as to whether the EPA will intervene in EIA projects approved at the local government level (answered in EPA’s response to item 3).
8) a new item, request for confirmation from the EPA that commissioner’s notes and opinions for the plenary meeting will be attached to the minutes.

Please keep those letters of concern coming.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Some Recent Taiwan Pink Dolphin Photos

Some recent pink dolphin photos taken from the shore at Changbin Industrial Park.
All photos courtesy of Shih-Chu Yang, FormosaCetus Research and Conservation Group.

To see the Taiwan pink dolphins contact Chen Bingheng at the Taiwan Academy of Ecology. E-mail:

Monday, June 18, 2007

Neonate Spotted

Humpback Dolphin watchers have spent a couple of days looking for the dolphins from the shore at Changbin Industrial Park. On both days about eight to ten dolphins were seen. Watchers were able to photograph some animals when they got close to the shoreline and were able to positively identify three of the dolphins, and possibly further identify another two to three other dolphins in the group.
Great news is that there was a very young neonate, which is thought to have been born earlier this year (maybe a month or two ago). This is very good news because there haven't been any neonates seen since 2002.

On May 12th, students from the Humpback Dolphin field course (15 from Canada and 4 from Hong Kong) went to the Dadu River mouth (end of the pier of the coal power plant) and Changbin Industrial Park and saw dolphins in both places. At the industrial park, the dolphins were close enough to photograph. Two of the three dolphins photographed were identified. While it is very good to see "old friends" again, being able to recognized individuals at such a high rate almost certainly means that the population is quite small....maybe even smaller than earlier survey estimates.

Photo courtesy of Shih-Chu Yang, FormosaCetus Research and Conservation Group.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Matsu's Fish Conservation Union

Who we are: Matsu's Fish Conservation Union (MFCU)

On 28 January 2007, six Taiwanese NGOs set up the ‘Matsu's Fish Conservation Union’ in response to the Taiwan pink dolphin crisis. Matsu's Fish is the English translation of the local Taiwanese name for the Taiwan pink dolphins. The Matsu's Fish Conservation Union is a coalition of several local environmental, legal and conservation NGOs. The members of the MFCU are:
Taiwan Academy of Ecology;
Taiwan Sustainability Union;
Taiwan Environmental Protection Union;
Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association;
Wild Bird Society of Yunlin;
Changhua Coast Conservation Action.

Secretariat for the Matsu's Fish Conservation Union
Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association


Donate to the MFCU.

The MFCU financial statements can be viewed on our Hanji (Mandarin) blog. Financial statements are in Hanji but can be viewed in English using a program such as Google translator.

Monday, June 4, 2007

The impact of wind farm construction on the Humpback Dolphins

Another disturbing threat to Taiwan’s Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphins Sousa chinensis is the development of wind farms within their existing habitat. Despite the obvious fact that the construction of wind farms will result in loss of habitat for the already struggling population of Taiwan’s Humpback dolphins, one also has to consider what other impact the construction of these proposed offshore wind farms will have on the Humpback dolphins and other cetaceans in that area.

Pile-driving is a construction related activity associated with many forms of coastal development, including the construction of wind farms. What are the potential effects of pile-driving noise on cetaceans? The sound/noise produced by pile-driving is substantial, and will be heard by cetaceans in the area. “In an analysis concentrating on bottlenose dolphins, it was estimated that pile-driving noise could mask strong dolphin acoustic communications within 10 to 15km and weak communications up to 40km. Radius of masking effects was frequency dependent, with examples being given of a masking radius of 1.2km at 115 kHz and 6km at 50kHz.
(SOURCE: David, J.A. 2006. Likely sensitivity of bottlenose dolphins to pile-driving noise. Water Environ. Jour. 20: 48-54)”

The severe acoustic trauma that will be inflicted upon Taiwan’s Humpback dolphins needs to be considered. What will this do to an already struggling population, numbering less than two hundred individuals, which are confined to a relatively small section of shallow coastal water between Miaoli and Yunlin on Taiwan’s west coast?

Taiwan’s EPA has scheduled a public hearing at 0930, Wednesday, 6 June 2007 at the EPA’s offices in Taipei to solicit input on the following cited subject: Proposed Amendments to Regulations Concerning Wind Energy Development Projects That Require Environmental Impact Assessment.

According to the EPA notice (EPA zongzih #0960039519), “it is impossible to determine whether or not the existing regulations [governing wind energy development projects] also require that off-shore wind energy projects conduct impact assessments.” Given the possible impact on the coastal environment and fishery industry, we should carefully consider whether in accordance with [the regulations] the scope of projects requiring assessments should be amended?

Also see:
CEPD Approves Wind Farm Plans

Sonar And Seismic Noise

More offshore wind farms

Military Practice in Taiwan may be the cause of abnormal cetacean stranding

146 wind turbines in dolphin waters