Environmentalists urge Ma to safeguard rare dolphins

THE CHINA POST

Environmental activists yesterday urged President Ma Ying-jeou to immediate launch concrete measures to safeguard the critically endangered Chinese White Dolphins that are about to extinct in Taiwan waters.

Standing with a Chinese White Dolphin model in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei, protestors from several local environmental protection groups yesterday jointly accused the government of done little for the species that resulted in decreasing of the rare dolphins, which only number around 70 now.

“We need actions not lip service from Ma,” said Pan Han-sheng (潘漢聲), secretary-general of the Green Party during the protest.

According to Pan, dozens of children had sent postcards to Ma earlier this year to urge the ruling administration to actively safe the Chinese White Dolphins.

In response to their calls, Ma previously claimed that he was deeply touched with these children’s love for the species.

However, Ma’s administration failed to make concrete moves even though three years had passed since the International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated the Chinese White Dolphins in waters of Taiwan’s west coast as a “critically endangered” species.

Tsai Chia-yang (蔡嘉陽), chairman of the Changhua Environmental Protection Union, said that Ma failed to keep his promise to safeguard the dolphin.

Instead spending money for the marine mammal, the government has spent millions of dollars building homes for giant pandas from China in the Taipei Zoo, he said.

Pan added that it is a good sign that the government has decided to cancel the Kuo Kuang Petrochemical Technology Corp.’s new naphtha cracking plant on a coastal wetland in southern Changhua County, where the species lives.

But there are other tasks at hand that need to be solved too, he said.

According to Gan Chen-yi (甘宸宜), secretary of the Matsu’s Fish Conservation Union, water and noise pollution, overdevelopment, and reduced food supplies resulting from over fishing, as well as illegal fishing, are all factors that lead to the dwindling number of the dolphins.

“Many of the Chinese White Dolphins found are trapped in fishing nets and are choked or drowned,” she noted.

They jointly called on the government to face the issues by cracking down on illegal fishing in areas where the dolphin lives.

A cross-ministries meeting should also be held immediately before establishing a conservation area for the dolphins, they said.

The dolphins are also known as Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins.

They are sometimes called “Matsu’s fish” by fishermen because they are most frequently spotted between March and April, when the birthday of the widely-worshipped goddess of the sea Matsu is traditionally celebrated.

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