Environmental advocates yesterday asked the developer of a planned aquarium and recreational park in Taitung County to provide supplemental coral surveys and to respect the rights of local Aboriginal communities amid concerns over the park’s impact.
Covering about 12 hectares on the county’s Jihuei (基翬) coast, the project, which passed an environmental impact assessment in 2009, would include aquariums, a spa and recreational facilities.
With developer Pao Sheng Ocean Park Development Co saying it would start construction on Friday, environmentalists yesterday raised concerns about the project’s potential impact on corals in the area and local residents’ rights.
The coverage of living corals in waters off the coast is between 40 and 50 percent, Taiwan Environmental Information Association secretary-general Chen Juei-pin (陳瑞賓) said, citing surveys conducted in 2017 and earlier this month.
However, the company’s environmental impact assessment report did not include any surveys on corals, Chen said.
Waters off the coastal tract extending from the county’s Sansiantai (三仙台), along the Jihuei coast to Chenggong New Port (成功新港) is a hot spot of porites coral growth, Academia Sinica’s Biodiversity Research Center researcher Allen Chen (陳昭倫) said.
He found a porites coral about 3m high and 15m wide, which might have a history of 200 to 300 years, he said, adding that the area is rich in other marine life due to its clean waters.
More than 150 coral species can be found in the waters, including the endangered and legally protected Pseudosiderastrea formosa, and the Ocean Affairs Council should demarcate it as a coral protection area, he said.
Improper development projects have grown like “tumors” along the east coast, he said, urging officials not to repeat the mistake of the Miramar Resort Hotel project that was scrapped after years of controversy.
Government agencies in charge of tourism, fisheries and marine resources should also respect local Aborigines’ rights to the domain, he added.
Together with the Amis of the Pisirian Community, environmentalists would present their appeals to the company on Friday, Citizen of the Earth, Taiwan member Huang Fei-yueh (黃斐悅) said.
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