Sat, Jun 15, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Agency to train 40 marine life observers this summer

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter, in KAOHSIUNG

To mitigate the potential effects of offshore wind farm construction on wildlife, the Ocean Conservation Administration yesterday said that it aims to train 40 marine mammal observers this year.

The agency held two policy explanation meetings, one in Taipei on Monday and the other in Kaohsiung yesterday, and has commissioned Awareocean Technology Co to conduct training sessions from next month, it said.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old and cannot be students, and must have experience working at sea or conducting ecological surveys, it added.

Due to the limited training budget of NT$2 million (US$63,432), only 40 trainees may participate, Marine Conservation Division senior specialist Ko Yuan-chuan (柯勇全) said, adding that the agency has already received nearly 150 applications.

After it stops accepting applications at 5pm on Monday next week, the agency would draw lots to decide on candidates and would finalize the list by June 24, it said.

The government has vowed to generate 5.5 gigawatts of electricity from offshore wind farms by 2025, attracting global energy developers to Taiwan and facilitating their connections with local industries.

During environmental impact assessments for construction projects off the coast of western Taiwan, the developers promised to employ observers to avoid harming marine mammals near the construction sites, the agency said.

As the cetacean observer system is brand new to Taiwan, the Environmental Protection Administration only required developers to hire “well-trained” observers, without defining their required expertise, while the oceans agency would evaluate its training program and might set up clearer criteria at a later date, Ko said.

The training sessions, which are to begin on July 9 in Taipei, are to include lectures by members of the Industrial Technology Research Institute’s Green Energy and Environmental Research Laboratories, the Taiwan Cetacean Society, Awareocean, PricewaterhouseCoopers Taiwan and WeatherRisk Explore Inc, Awareocean said.

All trainees are also required to spend one-and-half days aboard ships to put their learned skills into practice, which might take place in the waters off central Taiwan between July 15 and Aug. 31, depending on weather conditions, it said.

After passing a final written test, the trainees would receive a training certificate, it said.

However, the certificate does not guarantee that the trainees would get jobs, as the energy developers might ask them to undertake additional training, Ko said.

Some applicants have raised concerns about employment conditions, given that construction and observation tasks are susceptible to weather changes, he said, adding that the conservation agency would further discuss the matter with energy developers.

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