Thu, Jun 17, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Lawmaker rejects calls to protect ‘Matsu’s fish’

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Despite calls to save humpback dolphins living off the nation’s west coast, several lawmakers from the region asked environmental protection activists yesterday not to interfere with economic development.

“Although environmental protection is crucial, it is more important to carry out a policy that helps local development,” Non-Partisan Solidarity Union Legislator Yen Ching-piao (顏清標) said.

Yen — who doubles as president of Dajia Jenn Lann Temple (大甲鎮瀾宮) in Taichung County, one of the most prominent Matsu temples in Taiwan — voiced support for the construction of the Kuokuang Petrochemical Park at the mouth of Jhuoshuei River (濁水溪) in Changhua County.

Ignoring activists who say the more than NT$400 billion (US$12.4 billion) project will destroy the habitat of the white dolphins — locally called “Matsu’s fish” (媽祖魚), Yen criticized an Environmental Protection Administration plan to build a marine “eco-corridor” for the endangered species.

Rather than spending NT$20 billion to NT$30 billion on the corridor, Yen said the money should be used to help underprivileged people, he said.

The dolphins, known as Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, were listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as “critically endangered” in 2008 after their number was estimated to have fallen below 100 off Taiwan's west coast.

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