Thursday, January 10, 2008

Humpback Dolphin Protest at Taiwan's Executive Yuan

Protesters at yesterday's Save the ETS Humpback Dolphins Protest at Taiwan's Executive Yuan.

Yesterday, amidst legions of police officers the Matsu's Fish Conservation Union and Green Party Taiwan staged a protest at the Executive Yuan in Taipei over the failure of the government to meaningfully address the plight of Taiwan's humpback dolphins.

The protest coincided with the announcement of an international scientific working group established to offer advice on the unique and small population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis)found in the inshore waters of Western Taiwan. The establishment of Eastern Taiwan Strait Sousa Technical Advisory Working Group (ETSSTAWG) was announced yesterday in Washington DC. Protesters also presented a petition with the Executive Yuan and met with officials.

The Hushan Dam will reduce the flow of fresh water into the Jhoushui River Estuary further degrading habitat that is critical to the survival of the unique population of Taiwan humpback dolphins. The Hushan Dam will supply water to further develop heavy pollution-generating industry on Taiwan's West Coast in a country where the per capita CO2 emissions are three times the world average.

At the second International Workshop for the Taiwan Humpback Dolphins international experts specifically identified the diversion and extraction of freshwater from major river systems of western Taiwan and one of the five major threats to these dolphins survival and if action wasn't taken immediately these dolphins would follow the recently extinct Baiji (Yangtze River Dolphin) over the edge into extinction.

Taiwan Academy of Ecology Secretary General, Chen Bing-heng, addresses the media.

Protesters with Director of Section 5 of the Executive Yuan, Ms.Siao.

Taiwan’s Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins facing Imminent Danger - International Advisory Group Established

Press Conference

Notice to media

The Taiwan Sousa Working Group, which comprises of local and foreign experts in cetacean conservation and related fields, will be officially established on the morning of 9.1.08 (Wednesday in Taiwan) when it makes an important statement regarding the population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) in Taiwan’s west coast waters.

Taiwan’s Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins are mainly distributed in the shallow coastal waters (no deeper than 20m) along the five kilometers from the Miaoli to Chiayi Counties. Research by FormosaCetus Research and Conservation Group has shown a significant difference between the pigmentation of Taiwan’s Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins and those which occur along the coasts of China and other parts of the world, meaning that it is probably an independent population, and no less important than the Formosan Landlocked Salmon. However, because these dolphins live year-round in shallow coastal waters and are highly vulnerable to the impacts of human activity, this population is currently facing the immediate threat of extinction.

The threats faced by the dolphins include: reduced fresh water flow from rivers into estuaries, loss of habitat due to land reclamation along the west coast, industrial, agricultural and municipal pollution, entanglement in fishing gear and noise pollution. There are many new or planned projects which will affect their important habitat, including the Formosa Plastics Steel Mill, the Kuokuang Petrochemical Plant, the Jhanggong Power Plant, the Dadu Weir and offshore wind farms.

Taiwanese environmental groups will present a petition and hold a press conference at 1000 hours at the entrance of the Executive Yuan as a local response to this important statement, urging the government to immediately take urgent conservation action. The Matsu’s Fish Conservation Union will use large props at the press conference, and we invite all media to attend.

Time: 9.1.08 (Wednesday) 10am

Place: Entrance of the Executive Yuan


09:40-10:00 Gather

10:00-10:10 Introduction of the groups and statements by the groups

10:10-10:20 Announcement of the five main threats to the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins

10:20-10:30 Statement regarding the announcement by the international working group

10:30: Present the Petition to the Executive Yuan

Organisers: Matsu’s Fish Conservation Union (Taiwan Academy of Ecology, Taiwan Sustainable Union, Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, Taiwan Environmental Protection Union, Wild Bird Society of Yunlin, Changhua Coastal Conservation Action and FormosaCetus Research and Conservation Group); and Green Party Taiwan.


Press Release 9.1.08
Taiwan’s Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins face imminent danger

International Advisory Group Established

This morning, an announcement was made by Dr. Naomi Rose of Human Society International that an international team of scientific experts, the Eastern Taiwan Strait Technical Advisory Group (Taiwan Sousa Working Group), has been established to aid Taiwan in the conservation of the highly endangered population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) in the Eastern Taiwan Strait. Experts on the Taiwan Sousa Working Group come from Japan, the United States, Canada, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom, and its Chair is Dr. Peter Ross, a marine mammal toxicologist at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada. The members of the Taiwan Sousa Working Group all have considerable expertise and reputations in cetacean science (including Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin conservation in other countries) and related fields. The group has been established in order to allow any interest group in Taiwan concerned with the dolphins, including the government, to request information via Dr. Ross.

A number of local Taiwanese environmental groups, including the Matsu’s Fish Conservation Union, welcome the concern of these international experts for the survival of Taiwan’s Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, and call upon the Taiwanese government to stop avoiding its responsibility, start applying its Wildlife Conservation Act, and immediately begin consultations with the Taiwan Sousa Working Group as a crucial first step towards preventing this distinct Taiwanese species from disappearing, and towards protecting Taiwan’s biodiversity.

The Taiwan Sousa Working Group was formed at the recommendation of the workshop held in September 2007 in Changhua City, Taiwan, where there was broad participation by local and foreign researchers, conservationists and stakeholders. The workshop participants recommended the creation of a technical advisory working group to provide decision-makers, government organizations and other interest groups with guidance, expert scientific advice and scrutiny related to conservation issues for the isolated and highly endangered ETS [Eastern Taiwan Strait] humpback dolphins.

The September workshop also identified five major threats to the ETS humpback dolphins, including reduced river flow into estuaries, habitat loss, entanglement in fishing gear, industrial, agricultural and municipal pollutant discharges and underwater noise. There was added concern because of the recent news that the Baiji or Yangtze River Dolphin (Lipotes vexillifer) is likely extinct, also due to enormous human-caused environmental impacts. A Conservation Action Plan was prepared highlighting the main actions that central and local governments must take in order to mitigate the above threats and increase the chances of survival of this rare and legally protected population. These documents already provide an indisputable argument and sufficient guidance for immediate action to take place.

Advice from others may help one overcome one’s defects. Today, Taiwanese environmental groups are joining together to present a petition to ask that the government respond within two weeks, to show its sympathy for conservation issues. We hope that relevant agencies will take the initiative and deal with this matter in an appropriate manner. We sincerely hope that the government will recognize the seriousness of the situation and the urgent need for conservation action, grasp this opportunity and take advantage of the incredible expertise of this international group of scientists. We also hope that the government will adopt the recommendations of the September 2007 workshop report and draw up proper, effective policies to save this dolphin population from the desperate situation which they now face.

Contact email address:


PRESS RELEASE 8 January 2008:
Taiwan’s Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins in peril, says newly-formed international scientific working group

Also see:
Protest Planned for the Executive Yuan

Eastern Taiwan Strait Sousa Technical Advisory Working Group (ETSSTAWG)


Photos from yesterday's protest:

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