Thu, Apr 17, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Group calls for urgent action to save coastline

‘CONCRETE JUNGLE’More than 58.7 percent of the nation’s 1,024km coastline is being affected by blocks of concrete and the accumulation of man-made waste

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The coastline is diminishing at an accelerating pace and the destruction of the marine ecosystems may be irreversible, the Society of Wilderness (SOW) said yesterday while rallying volunteers to clean the beaches during Earth Day on Sunday.

SOW secretary-general Shih Chun-rong (施純榮) said that more than 58.7 percent of the nation’s 1,024km coastline has been affected by concrete blocks or man-made waste.

“There is only about 409km of natural coastline left,” he said.

Cheng Ming-hsiu (鄭明修), a marine biologist and a researcher at the Center for Biodiversity at Academia Sinica, said that most of the coastline had become a “concrete jungle.”

Citing Yunlin County as an example, he said Mailiao Power Corporation’s (麥寮六輕) sixth naphtha cracker project and other nearby offshore industrial power plants cover 32km, or 91 percent, of the nation’s coastline.

Taiwan has more than 240 harbors, which translates to an average of one harbor per 6km, he said, adding that the high density of concrete harbors had killed thousands, if not tens of thousands, of marine creatures.

Cheng said that aside from overdevelopment, human waste was the main rcause of the rapid destruction of aquatic life around Taiwan.

“When you’re on a beach, it’s not hard to see jellyfish or other marine animals choking on plastic bags or bottles. It is a pity that even though Taiwan is an island, it is quite difficult to find a clean beach,” Cheng said.

In an effort to conserve what is left of the natural coastline, the SOW has called for volunteers to participate in the nation-wide beach-clean up activity on Earth Day.

Volunteers are encouraged to go online and contact their local SOW chapters for details about the project.

“More than 70 percent of the earth is covered with water and recent events have shown that the ocean is revolting and will continue to suffer unless we do something about it now,” Shih said.

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