Environmentalists deride ‘coral transplant’

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Environmentalists deride ‘coral transplant’

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Joe

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Environmental groups yesterday presented the Ministry of Economic Affairs with academic studies on endangered coral showing that it is not feasible to transplant coral away from the planned site of CPC Corp, Taiwan’s (CPC) third liquefied natural gas terminal.

The company plans to build a gas terminal on yet-to-be reclaimed land off Datan Borough (大潭) in Taoyuan’s Guantang Industrial Park.

However, environmental groups say the project could damage the endangered coral Polycyathus chaishanensis and a wide stretch of algal reef off the Datan coast.

Minister of Economic Affairs Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) said in a question-and-answer session at the Legislative Yuan on Thursday last week that the coral could be transplanted, triggering wide criticism from biologists.

Taiwan Wetland Society researchers, who were commissioned by CPC to conduct environmental studies on the coast, have misinformed Shen, said Academia Sinica biologist Allen Chen (陳昭倫), who discovered the coral on Datan’s coast in June.

“The ministry or the Executive Yuan should set up a forum so academics concerned about the issue can voice their opinions,” Chen said.

Chen and Taoyuan Local Union director-general Pan Chong-cheng (潘忠政) presented studies on the endangered coral and algal reef and called on ministry officials to increase their knowledge of local ecology.

Pan initiated an online petition to protect the endangered coral, which has attracted 7,000 signatures as of Tuesday, including those of former Academia Sinica president Lee Yuan-tseh (李遠哲) and academician Liao Yun-fan (廖運範).

The Taoyuan Department of Agriculture has been ordered by the Council of Agriculture to collect relevant information to determine if the coral habitat should be designated as a conservation area, Council of Agriculture Minister Lin Tsung-hsien (林聰賢) said at the legislature, responding to questions from New Power Party Legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明).

A decision is expected in six months, Lin said.

The council should assert its position to protect the endangered species, even though CPC’s project has to undergo another environmental review, Hsu said.

The Environmental Jurists Association is to hold a forum about protecting the coral today at the Chinese Culture University in Taipei.

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