Announcement: MFCU Accepting Applications for Dolphin Observation/Interpretation Training Course

Matsu's Fish Conservation Union (MFCU), of which Wild at Heart is a member, will be holding its first weekend training courses of 2008 starting this Saturday. The first two courses (on the 12th-13th and 19th-20th) aim to train a total of 40 volunteers to contribute to land-based observation records and to assist in providing interpretation services near the habitat of Taiwan's Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins. There will be a minimum 10 hours of volunteer work expected after completion of the course, but there will be no limit to further participation by dedicated volunteers in this long-term project. The training courses will include talks by experts in the dolphins, their ecology, habitat and the threats they face, as well as on-site practice in land-based observation.

Read the full details below or see the MFCU's Chinese and English blogs.

Matsu's Fish Conservation Union (MFCU)*, comprised of seven leading non-profit environmental and research organizations, recently announced the opening two sessions of its annual training program to promote awareness of the plight of Taiwan's highly endangered population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis). The dolphins inhabit the estuarine waters along Taiwan's west coast and are seriously threatened by human activities in, and impacts on, their habitat. The two-day training sessions will include lectures by leading cetacean scientists, ecologists and researchers of their history and habitat, threats to cetacean* survival and measures that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of the population's extinction.

Directed primarily at persons who would like to participate in the awareness and conservation campaign, the first two sessions this year will be held at times roughly corresponding with the calming of the coastal waters that begins around the time of the birthday of the goddess of the sea, Matsu, which this year falls on 28 April (lunar calendar 23d day of the third month).

Purpose of Training:
The aim of this year's course is to train 40 volunteers (20 in each weekend course) to become land-based observers of the dolphins and help compile long-term observation records, which will contribute to understanding of the population. During the dolphin-watching season they may also provide support to interpretation activities and work as staff members.

Training Schedule:
1st session: 12 April 2008 (Saturday) to 13 April 2008 (already full)
2nd session: 19 April 2008 (Saturday) to 20 April 2008 (places still available)

1st course: Providence University Fangjilousheng Classroom number 117, Number 20 Jhongci Road, Shalu Township, Taichung County (map).
2nd course: Fa-e-chaoren's Home, Number 376, Haifong Road Section 2, Wugang Village, Taisi Township, Yunlin County (map) .

Note that depending on demand there will be more sessions scheduled throughout the coming months. All sessions are currently planned to be held in Mandarin Chinese, however, if there is sufficient demand we will be happy to arrange for an English language course.

Application deadline:
There are still five places left for the second workshop, and we will stop accepting applications for that course once those places are filled.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old and enthusiastic about ecological conservation!

Training fee:
NT$ 800 (this includes the cost of handouts and insurance and a NT$500 deposit, which will be returned to the volunteer upon completion of the course and 10 hours of work. In the event that the trainee does not fulfill these requirements their deposit will go towards Matsu's Fish Conservation Fund where it may contribute to future training.

How to apply:
After submitting the training fee, we will send you a receipt and an application form (also downloadable here, which should be emailed to [email protected] or fax to (04)2653-0021, and your application will be complete.

How to pay:
By post office transfer to:
Account number: 22534681
Account Name: Taiwan Academy of Ecology
※Please be sure to add the following note on your payment slip: "Payment for Matsu's Fish Training Course"

Description of work:
Ten hours of interpretation and compiling land-based observation records.

Lesson content:

Introduction to speakers:
Chen Bing-hen: Taiwan Academy of Ecology Secretary General
Ray Chin : Kuroshio Ocean Education Foundation
Tsai Chia-yang: Changhua Coastal Conservation Action

Please bring your own cup and chopsticks or other cutlery, and for the land-based observation please bring binoculars, a camera, drinking water, and be prepared to be under the hot sun!

Enquiry hotline:
Chinese: (04) 2632-8001 ext. 17054 (Miss A Gan of Taiwan Academy of Ecology)
English: 0938 643 410 (Chris, Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association).

* Cetacean: Belonging to the Cetacea, an order of aquatic, chiefly marine mammals, including whales, dolphins and porpoises.
** MFCU comprises: Taiwan Sustainable Union, Taiwan Academy of Ecology, Taiwan Environmental Protection Union, Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association, Wild Bird Society of Yunlin, Changhua Coast Conservation Action and FormosaCetus Research and Conservation Group.