Quantcast
Animals
Taiwanese humpback dolphins. Center for Biological Diversity

Taiwanese Humpback Dolphin Gets Protected Under U.S. Endangered Species Act

The National Marine Fisheries Service protected rare Taiwanese humpback dolphins on Tuesday, listing the species as "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act. The decision comes in response to a March 2016 petition from the Animal Welfare Institute, Center for Biological Diversity and WildEarth Guardians seeking U.S. protections to help prevent the extinction of a population that now numbers fewer than 100 individuals.


"These rare dolphins deserve every possible chance to escape extinction, and we are thrilled that the National Marine Fisheries Service has stepped up and given them the protections of the Endangered Species Act," said Taylor Jones, endangered species advocate for WildEarth Guardians. "A myriad of dolphin species are at risk due to human activities, and we owe these intelligent creatures the best protections we can give them."

Taiwanese humpback dolphins are threatened by gillnet fishing, pollution, boat traffic and development along Taiwan's densely populated west coast, including the proposed construction of large wind farms. An endangered listing will enable the U.S. to provide technical expertise and resources to support Taiwan in conserving the rare dolphin.

"This is good news that will help these rare dolphins avoid extinction. International cooperation is the key to saving certain critically endangered species," said Abel Valdivia, an ocean scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity. "Now that U.S. officials have made the right call on this listing, they should immediately start working with Taiwan on a recovery plan. The Endangered Species Act is a powerful tool that can still save the Taiwanese humpback dolphin and other small cetaceans struggling to survive."

The Taiwanese humpback dolphin, also known as the Taiwanese white dolphin, is a biologically and culturally important subspecies of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin. In 2014 the National Marine Fisheries Service denied a previous petition to protect the Taiwanese humpback dolphin, concluding that the population was not distinct from the Chinese white dolphin, which swims in deeper waters closer to China's coastline. New taxonomy studies, however, conclude that the Taiwanese humpback dolphin is a distinct subspecies with unique characteristics, whose numbers continue to decline to alarmingly low levels.

"This is a major victory for the Taiwanese dolphin," said Tara Zuardo, Animal Welfare Institute senior wildlife attorney. "The Endangered Species Act will help enable the United States to provide the resources needed to help protect and conserve this imperiled population. We are grateful that the National Marine Fisheries Service recognized the need to take immediate action."

An estimated 50 percent to 80 percent of all life on Earth is found in the oceans. More than half of marine species may be at risk of extinction by 2100 without significant conservation efforts. Despite this grave situation, the U.S. largely fails to protect marine species under the Endangered Species Act.

The Endangered Species Act is an effective safety net for imperiled species: It has prevented extinction for more than 90 percent of plants and animals under its care. Scientists estimate that 227 species would have gone extinct by 2006 if not for its protections. Protecting species with global distributions can help focus U.S. resources toward enforcement of international regulations and recovery of the species.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sponsored
Climate
Robin Loznak

Groundbreaking Youth Climate Lawsuit Against U.S. Government Can Proceed

A federal judge on Monday rejected the Trump administration's last-ditch efforts to derail a landmark constitutional climate lawsuit brought by 21 youth plaintiffs, preserving the trial start date of Oct. 29 in Eugene, Oregon.

In a 62-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken denied yet another attempt from the federal government to throw out Juliana v. United States, which was first filed in 2015.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Daniel Heighton / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Taxing Carbon May Sound Like a Good Idea But Does It Work?

By Paul Griffin

Exxon Mobil is backing a proposal to tax oil, gas and coal companies for the carbon they emit and redistribute the money raised that way to all Americans. It's also giving a group urging Washington to enact a tax on carbon US$1 million to advocate for this policy.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
Darina Allen, founder of the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, County Cork, Ireland. Eleanor Bentall / Corbis via Getty Images

Chefs Are Going Back to Their Roots for Local, Sustainable Foraged Foods

Chefs around the world are using foraged ingredients to add exciting, fresh and eco-friendly flavors to their menus. By searching for herbs, fruits and roots from the wild, they create fresh, flavorful dishes. They also champion sustainable practices, indigenous produce and a sense of adventure. Ultimately, these foraging chefs bring diners unique experiences closer to nature.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Tim Robberts / Stone / Getty News

We Need an Ecological Civilization Before It’s Too Late

By Jeremy Lent

In the face of climate breakdown and ecological overshoot, alluring promises of "green growth" are no more than magical thinking. We need to restructure the fundamentals of our global cultural/economic system to cultivate an "ecological civilization": one that prioritizes the health of living systems over short-term wealth production.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Popular
Storm debris litters the town after Hurricane Michael on Oct. 13 in Mexico Beach, Florida. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Hurricane Michael Death Toll Rises to 18, Survivors Desperate for Aid

The death toll from Hurricane Michael climbed to 18 Saturday after a victim was discovered in Virginia, but officials think it could climb higher still as search and rescue efforts continue in the most hard hit areas around the Florida Panhandle, CNN reported.

Panama City Fire Department Battalion Chief David Collier told CNN he thought the final death toll just in his city and surrounding communities could reach the double digits.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Screenshot / ABC Video

With Planet in 'Crisis Mode,' Bernie Sanders Rips Trump White House for 'Dangerous' Dismissal of Climate Science

By Jake Johnson

Appearing on ABC's This Week on Sunday just moments after President Donald Trump's chief economic adviser and noted Wall Street stooge Larry Kudlow dismissed a new United Nations climate report showing that the world must cut carbon emissions in half by 2030 to avert global catastrophe, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) denounced the White House for its "dangerous" rejection of climate science and slammed Trump for working hand-in-hand with Big Oil to make "a bad situation worse."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Politics
Alex Wong / Getty Images

The Fight Doesn’t End With Kavanaugh

By Patrice Simms and Brielle Green

The confirmation process for Justice Brett Kavanaugh was painful for many of us. Earthjustice stood staunchly against his nomination—both because of the jurist we know Justice Kavanaugh to be, and because we believe Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Despite having every opportunity to get it right, our lawmakers once again failed all of us by charting a course that was deeply disrespectful to survivors of sexual assault and offensive to our bedrock principles of equity and justice.

Keep reading... Show less
Politics
Trump at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, MD on Feb. 23. Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0

Trump Accuses Climate Scientists of Having 'Political Agenda'

President Donald Trump once again cast doubt on human contribution to climate change and accused climate scientists of having a "political agenda" during his interview with CBS' 60 Minutes on Sunday.

"Do you still think that climate change is a hoax?" correspondent Lesley Stahl asked the president point-blank.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!