When a Greenpeace activist was arrested for climbing onto a ship’s anchor cable to protest unsustainable fishing practices, the ship’s owner stated that activists “shouldn’t take such irrational action” (“Activist arrested for tuna protest,” Jan. 25, page 2).
Excuse me? The only behavior here that is irrational is to continue the unsustainable fishing practices that have led to severe overfishing of the seas and oceans, and ultimately threaten food security and thousands of jobs in the fishing industry. Overfishing of tuna, sharks and other sea life is directly responsible for the continuing decline and perhaps eventual collapse of the ocean’s fisheries, as has been well-documented in many scientific reports.
Asia’s relentless appetite for delicacies such as shark fins, is driving the imminent extinction of many species (“Taiwan is world’s fourth-largest shark catcher, report says,” Jan. 28, page 1).
This biodiversity crisis is accelerating, possibly leading to the extinction of species. The causes are well-known: Besides overfishing, they are habitat destruction, invasive species and pollution including global warming.
What are we to do? Are there any solutions or will we just have to accept that we will live in a vastly impoverished world with collapsed ecosystems?
It is time to shine the light on some of the good work done by the nation’s own biodiversity institute, the Endemic Species Research Institute. It has supported many projects to research the nation’s biodiversity, educate the public and support sustainable development.
For example, it supported an educational Web site with text and videos about the biodiversity crisis, as well as possible solutions. Together with National Taiwan University, it also runs a project that attempts to identify those areas of the country which are most valuable in terms of biodiversity, but have not been protected yet.
However, for this research to have any bearing on the real world, decision-makers must realize that the main causes of the biodiversity crisis mentioned above must be urgently addressed. While customers can reduce their impact by not consuming endangered species, what we also urgently need is national and international regulations that set sustainable harvesting limits for marine animals (“Just say no to shark’s fin,” Feb. 2, page 8).
Furthermore, biodiversity needs wild spaces to thrive. The recent plans by the government to build more gigantic industrial projects and dams to supply them with with water, besides having a negative impact on health and food security, displace animals because there is no space for them anymore as forests, wetlands and other natural habitats simply disappear (“Bird migration to Philippines falls sharply,” Jan. 26, page 5).
Therefore, calls for important habitats to be protected must be heeded to avert a biodiversity crisis in Taiwan, whether it be terrestrial or marine (“Environmentalists urge protection for Changhua wetland,” Jan. 26, page 3 and “Marine park mulled for southern Penghu islets,” Feb. 2, page 2). Our children will be thankful if we sustain the diversity of life.
Spineless in Manila
I just want to interject a few comments on Philippine Vice President Jejomar Binay’s statement that Taiwan shouldn’t retaliate against poor Filipino workers in response to the deportation of Taiwanese suspects to China. (“Philippine VP says Filipinos shouldn’t bear Taipei’s anger,” Feb. 12, page 2).