China works to conserve the Bohai Sea's marine environment

Updated 2017-06-08 13:54:57 CGTN

Coastal development is a lucrative growth area in China's economy. But offshore development and coastal construction are threatening the country's marine environment, which has deteriorated in recent years due to increasing pollution and human development.

On July 16, 2010, a pipeline explosion in Dalian, northeast China's Liaoning Province led to thousands of tons of oil spreading in the Bohai Sea and the city's coastline. It was perhaps the worst oil spill in China's history.

Seven years have passed, the shocking memory remains fresh in the mind of Tang Zailin, who led the filing of a lawsuit against China's biggest oil producer and won.

"We overcame many obstacles during the case. But we understood, as we were suing one of the biggest companies in China. And we were glad to see that the local government acted as a mediator," said Tang Zailin, head of the Dalian Environmental Protection Volunteers Association.

A huge compensation package was paid out to clean up the contamination. The exact amount remains confidential, as agreed on by both parties, and Tang reckoned massive long-term challenges remain.

Tang believes the people of Dalian are happy about the recovery so far. The disaster has raised the awareness of environmental protection among the people, and many top-down efforts on healing the marine environment have been rolled out.

One of the latest such efforts is the extension of a fishing ban across China, which is one month longer than the usual three-month ban. The strictest ever moratorium requires a halt in all kinds of fishing operations.

Starting this year, China, a country that has the most fishing vessels and fishermen in the world, has imposed the toughest fishing ban ever.

The aim is to better protect fisheries and the marine environment, giving the ocean more time to recover. After years of over-fishing, marine resources in some areas are so severely depleted, there is almost nothing to catch.

Fisherman Liu Qingyun in Dalian is busy doing the maintenance work on his boat during the fishing-off season. He told CGTN that there are less and less fishery resources in the sea, and it shows in his income. Over 60 percent of the seafood in Dalian today is from somewhere else.

The strict fishing moratorium has also resulted in the skyrocketing of seafood prices in the local market. The price of some seafood has jumped by over 80 percent, and since fewer people can afford such price hikes, retailers are struggling. But one retailer cannot agree more with the new moratorium. She thinks the sea is dying after chronic excessive fishing, if people don't start doing something now, many sea creatures will end up in museums.

There is a clear sign that China's marine management has been gradually improving, but many are hoping it is not too late to make a difference.

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