Taiwan sets up sanctuary for endangered humpback dolphin

April 21, 2014
This handout photo taken by the Taiwan Forestry Bureau on August 26, 2009 and released on April 21, 2014 shows two Ido-Pacific humpback dolphins swimming in the Taiwan Strait

Taiwan is setting up its first marine wildlife sanctuary, in a bid to protect its dwindling population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, officials said Monday.

Local conservation groups say the dolphin numbers have halved to around 60 in the past decade, due to pollution, industrial development, and destruction of habitat.

"Indo-Pacific dolphin population is a key index to measure the health of the maritime environment," said Tsai Chia-yang, the head of the Chuanghua Environmental Protection Union.

The Council of Agriculture confirmed it will establish a vast 76,300 hectare (188,461 acres) sanctuary off the west coast of the country.

"We're happy to announce the setting up of the sanctuary before this year's Earth Day," Kuan Li-hao, an official of the forestry bureau, referring to the annual United Nations event launched in 1970 and celebrated on April 22.

Normal fishing in the area will be unaffected, as the government said a total ban would not be possible as sanctuary's success depended on the cooperation of local fishermen.

But the government has tightened guidelines for those operating in the region.

From now on, any development projects in the area will require government approval, council officials said.

Under the new measures, there will be tough punishments for of the endangered species. Poachers of the could face up to two years in jail and fines of Tw$500,000 ($16,530). Dredge fishing is also banned.

Anyone caught seriously damaging the habitat could face five years in prison.

"Illegal fishing has seriously ruined the coastal ecological environment, threatening the endangered dolphins," whose main diet consists of mullet and other fish, Kuan said.

The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin can also be found along the coast of Africa and in the waters stretching from India to Australia.

In 2011, President Ma Ying-jeou decided to put an end to a controversial plan to build a $20 billion refinery and more than 20 related petrochemical plants in western Taiwan, in reaction to a series of protests for the endangered dolphin species.

He said there was a need to balance economic development with environmental protection.

Explore further: Taiwan group plans sanctuary for endangered dolphin

Related Stories

18 endangered dolphins spotted off Borneo: WWF

February 7, 2012

Conservation group WWF said it spotted 18 critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins in Indonesian waters off Borneo island Tuesday and called for greater protection of the species' habitat.

Recommended for you

New gene map reveals cancer's Achilles heel

November 25, 2015

Scientists have mapped out the genes that keep our cells alive, creating a long-awaited foothold for understanding how our genome works and which genes are crucial in disease like cancer.

Insect DNA extracted, sequenced from black widow spider web

November 25, 2015

Scientists extracted DNA from spider webs to identify the web's spider architect and the prey that crossed it, according to this proof-of-concept study published November 25, 2015 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Charles ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.