Sunday, January 30, 2011

Recent articles on the Kuokuang Petrochemical Project appearing in the Taipei Times

The following is a list of articles on the Kuokuang Petrochemical Project that have appeared in the Taipei Times during the past week. The planned Kuokuang Petrochemical Project will have a extremely negative impact on Taiwan's central-west coast; vital habitat for the critically endangered Taiwan pink dolphins and host of other wildlife. The project will also destroy the livelihoods of many of the fishing and farming communities in the area.

Cracker may be built overseas 2011-01-25
"The Minister of Economic Affairs said a naphtha cracking project would not proceed unless it passed an environmental impact assessment review" Sounds very noble. But with a rubber-stamp-body legacy; would the EPA go against the wishes of the government and actually put a stop to the project?

Environmentalists urge protection for Changhua wetland 2011-01-26
See New hope ! High School Protest.

Protesters rally against KKPTC plan 2011-01-27
Hundreds of people — mainly university students — staged a rally outside the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) to protest the Kuokuang Petrochemical Park.

Re-evaluate Kuokuang’s Changhua County plan 2011-01-28
Former EPA Minister Winston Dang speaks out against Kuokuang. I'm sure those against the Kuokuang Project appreciate his speaking out in opposition to the project but is this not just Dang promoting himself? He seems to have forgotten that his EPA wasn't any better. Remember Hushan? A case of the pot calling the kettle black? Both the former and present EPA ministers have failed in safeguarding the environment terribly.

Panel tells Kuokuang to review project 2011-01-28
TEMPORARY REPRIEVE:Opponents of the proposed petrochemical project said the ruling fell short of their expectations.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

New hope ! High School Protest

The Dacheng wetlands in Changhua; the Kuokuang project plans to reclaim these internationally listed wetlands to build petrochemical factories.

Opposition to the planned Kuokuang Petrochemical development on the Chunghua coast mounts. Earlier this week, the Minister of Economic Affairs said Kuokuang Petrochemical's eighth naphtha cracking project would not proceed unless it passed an environmental impact assessment review and relocating the development project overseas could be an option. Exporting Taiwan's petrochemical industry can't be a good thing but it does show that that a good many people in Taiwan have had enough of the petrochemical industry and all its pollution and destruction of the local environment.

An article in today's Taipei Times caught my eye. The article titled Environmentalists urge protection for Changhua wetland gave no hint of the little gem of hope mentioned in the final paragraph. Protesting against the Kuokuang Petrochemical project that plans to turn the internationally important mudflats and wetlands on the Chunghua coast into reclaimed land to build petrochemical factories has gone on for several years. Today, for example, an ongoing protest vigil begins outside the offices of the Environmental Protection Administration. The Taiwan environmental movement continues to fight tooth and nail to stop the Kuokuang project and save the wetlands which are vitally important habitat to the unique and critically endangered Taiwan pink dolphins and several other threatened species like the Saunders's Gull. However, What really made me take note was this sentence: "Meanwhile, also in Changhua County, more than 100 students at National Changhua High School staged a campus sit-in in protest over the Kuokuang project."

It might seem rather trivial to many of our readers that reside in Western democracies that a hundred high school students staged a sit-in. What's the big deal? The big deal is this type of thing almost never happens in Taiwan schools, let alone Taiwan universities. The education system in Taiwan sadly still has a long way to go before it truly shakes off the shackles of the country's authoritarian past. Military personnel on high school campuses are a common sight at just about every high school in the country. They are their to help with discipline and guidance. Any form of protest is usually put down with an attitude of students should spend all their time at their studies and not involve themselves in any form of protest; even while in their 3rd and 4th years at university; when most are old enough to vote.

It is truly encouraging to see high school students take a stand against something that will impact very negatively on their futures and generations to come. A very big hand for those students at National Changhua High School for their brave effort. Hopefully this is an indication that the youth of Taiwan have had enough of the greed, pollution and destruction that characterises the petrochemical industry in Taiwan and are starting to take a stand.

Note: the Dacheng Wetlands are listed internationally as an important bird area or IBA.

Greenpeace Tuna Protest:- Divide and conquer ?

On Monday [24th January] a member of Greenpeace launched the first ever Greenpeace protest in Taiwan by trying to stop a tuna carrier from leaving the port of Kaohsiung. The Taipei Times reported that a protester climbed onto the anchor cable of the refrigerated tuna transporter the Lung Yuin shortly before the vessel was to leave port. The protester, a Thai citizen, was arrested by port police. On article on the Greenpeace website states that the activist has since been released without being charged.

Because of the political standoff between China and Taiwan most mainstream environmental organisations won't work in Taiwan for fear of upsetting the Chinese Bear across the Taiwan Strait which could impact negatively on their work in China. Given that Taiwan is one of the world's great biodiversity hotspots it is a great tragedy that this island of extreme natural wonder is held ransom by the fear of upsetting the authoritarian regime across the Strait. Against this backdrop, it is encouraging to see that Greenpeace seems to have an interest in working in Taiwan and exposing some of the issues the Taiwanese environmental movement has been up against for many years.

While most in Taiwan's environmental movement appreciate the apparent desire of Greenpeace to do something about the nation's notorious tuna industry there is without a doubt tremendous suspicion of Greenpeace's motives.

Local environmental groups remember well the fiasco of how Greenpeace China tried to establish a subordinate office in Taiwan that seemed nothing short of another attempt at forcing Beijing's "One China" policy on the people of Taiwan. Many local environmental groups will also remember how when seeking support from Greenpeace over the Hushan Dam issue that Greenpeace seemed to lead the environmental alliance against the Hushan Dam up the garden path and then refused to help the local environmental effort or even send the Taiwan Government a letter of concern over the environmental impact of the project.

If Greenpeace sincerely wishes to work in Taiwan it really needs to start off in a spirit of transparency and reconciliation. Greenpeace can't hope to achieve anything meaningful and lasting in Taiwan without local support. Greenpeace needs to clearly state just what its motives are. Without Greenpeace clearing the air and taking steps to address the fiasco and insulting behaviour that characterised the attempt of Greenpeace China to bring Beijing's brand of the environmental movement to Taiwan Greenpeace is doing nothing short of undermining the efforts of the local environmental movement and their effectiveness. If Greenpeace can clear the air and truly partner the local environmental movement in a spirit of respect and equality they are sure to discover that the Taiwan environmental movement will welcome their efforts with open arms; and hopefully see Greenpeace taking a stand for efforts to save Taiwan's west coast and the pink dolphins.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Save the Pink Dolphins: Join us for Afternoon Tea

Dear friends of Taiwan environment,

Thank you for your concern and support of the Taiwan pink dolphin (Sousa chinensis Matsu’s Fish) conservation effort. We would like to invite you to a special fundraising event on Sunday, February 13, 2011.

Protect Taiwan’s Beautiful West Coast—Save the Pink Dolphin!

Four years ago, six organizations learned of the plight of the Eastern Taiwan Strait population of pink dolphins—that they faced almost certain extinction in the very near future with a drastically reduced population numbering around just 75—and very quickly formed the Matsu’s Fish Conservation Union (MFCU) to begin work to save them.

The Union’s mission is to educate the public about the pink dolphin, to advocate for the protection of the dolphin’s habitat, and to be a watchdog for any industrial development that adversely affects that habitat. In addition, we support scientific research on the pink dolphin, convene international conferences on pink dolphin research, and promote exchange of information with international conservation groups.

Even with limited financial resources and a skeletal staff, the Matsu’s Fish Conservation Union and its dedicated volunteers have achieved much in the last three years.

Volunteer Training
- Held training sessions for volunteer guides and dolphin observers for three years running.
Attendants for each session numbered over 120.

Education, Publication and Protest
- Organized a protest march against the development of Kuokuang petrochemical plant. Over 10,000 people were estimated to have participated in this march to the Presidential Offices on November 13, 2010.
- Organized the first annual Taiwan Pink Dolphin Road Race on April 25, 2010
- Organized Thousands Protect the Changhua Coast event on October 25, 2010
- Published children’s picture book, Alive, about the pink dolphin
- Produced a number of short films to educate the public

Taiwan's Critically Endangered Pink Dolphins
- Provided on-shore dolphin-watching opportunities to the public.
- Held presentations on the pink dolphin situation in a variety of settings.

Government Watchdog and Advocacy Work
Our long-term goals include being a watchdog for any development plans that would threaten the ecological system on which the dolphins depend. The threats are land reclamation along the coast for development, underwater noise, decrease of freshwater input from the river, entanglement in fishing nets and general air and water pollution in the dolphins’ habitat.

Currently, we are focusing our effort in advocating for habitat protection against the push to develop more highly polluting plants on the Changhua coast by Kuokuang Petrochemical. We are closely monitoring the planned diversion of waters from the Da-Du River for industry use.
- In January of 2008, as direct result of our successful lobbying and advocacy efforts, the topic of pink dolphin conservation and habitat protection has begun to be addressed by the Sustainability Commission of the Executive Yuan and potential impact on dolphin habitat is now required to be addressed in all environmental impact assessment reports for projects in the area.
- In 2009, again through successful lobbying and petition, we began consultation work with multiple government agencies on the pink dolphin issue and joined the Environmental Protection Agency on its research trip to Hong Kong to study their efforts in pink dolphin conservation.
- The Forest Service is expected to submit a draft on pink dolphin habitat protection, which would be sent to Wildlife Conservation Advisory Committee for discussion in early 2011.

International Exchange
- Helped organize Second Annual International Workshop on Conservation and Research Needs of the Eastern Taiwan Strait Population of Indo-pacific Humpback Dolphins Sousa chinensis in September 2007
- Held workshop on Taiwan Pink Dolphin Critical Habitat, press conference and public hearing after the workshop. Papers from the workshop have been accepted for publication by Marine Policy in November 2010.

Please join us for this special fundraising event:
Protect Our Beautiful Coast, and Save the Pink Dolphin on February 13, 2011 at 2pm.
- Taiwanese food
- organic fruits and vegetables
- auction of arts and crafts items
- showing of videos on pink dolphin conservation

All proceeds will help pay for independent scientific research, an international workshop on fisheries and dolphins as well as administration and staffing costs of the Matsu’s Fish Conservation Union.

Help us make Taiwan the home for the pink dolphin now and forever. Please donate today!


Chen-Yi Kan, Secretary General, Matsu’s Fish Conservation Union
Chia-Yang Tsai, Director, Changhua Environmental Protection Union
Robin Winkler, Founder, Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, Taiwan

Time: Sunday, February 13, 2011, 2pm
Place: Y17台北市青少年育樂中心流行廣場五樓 (5F No. 17, Section 1, Ren-Ai Road, Taipei)
Tickets: NT$ 2000 (tax-deductible)
Account Name: Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association
Bank Name and Number: :兆豐國際商業銀行城中分行(代碼:017)
Telephone: 02-23825789 Fax 02-23825810

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Buy a Patch of Land, Save the Taiwan Pink Dolphins

Buy a Patch of Land, Save a Pink Dolphin (Second Phase)

Pledge Form (No payment is necessary at this point.)

Please fill out this pledge form and email to Changhua Environmental Protection Union, or fax to 04-7769516.

* One share is one square meter. Each share is NT$119.

ARC or Passport No. ______________________________

Name __________________________________________

Contact Telephone ________________________________

Address _________________________________________________________

Email ___________________________________________________________

Pledge Amount (You may pledge up to 1000 shares in each area.)
Area 1. Eurasian Curlew No. of shares _____
Area 2. Black-faced Spoonbill No. of shares _____
Area 3. Little Egret No. of shares _____
Area 4. Saunders's Gull No. of shares _____
Area 5. Little Tern No. of shares _____
Area 6. Black-winged Stilt No. of shares _____
Area 7. Sentinel Crab No. of shares _____
Area 8. Soldier crab No. of shares _____
Area 9. Bristle worms No. of shares _____
Area. 10 Croaker No. of shares _____
Total No. of shares _____NT$______

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Thank you for your support!