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Improving ecology in nation's bay areas prioritized

By Hou Liqiang | China Daily | Updated: 2020-07-31 09:49
Buildings hug the coast of Haikou Bay, South China's Hainan province. [Photo/VCG]

China will give priority to improving the ecology of its bay areas as it ratchets up control of marine pollution in the coming five years, a senior environmental official said on Thursday.

As part of the country's efforts to build a beautiful China, the initiative also aims to meet public demand for enjoying the sea, said Zhai Qing, vice-minister of Ecology and Environment, at a national conference on drafting marine environment and ecology protection plans for the next five years.

As key ecological spaces for marine organisms, bay areas are also where most of mankind's sea activities occur and where conflicts between development and protection are concentrated, he said.

"The changes in the water quality and ecological systems in bay areas will determine the success or failure of the work on marine environment and ecological protection during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25)," he stressed.

The efforts to ramp up bay remediation is also of interest to the public. A public survey done for marine protection shows that 85 percent of respondents expressed strong willingness to enjoy the sea, he said.

"From now on, we should explicitly put forward the target of building beautiful bays. That is to transform all of the country's 1,467 bays into beautiful ones before 2035 with no more than three five-year plans," he said.

Environmental quality, ecological conditions and whether people are satisfied will be key indicators used to judge if a bay is beautiful or not, according to the ministry.

Zhai also noted a series of challenges in marine protection.

While the discharge of wastewater from industrial, agricultural and domestic sources in coastal areas remains high, there are also a lot of polluting sources in the sea, such as sea farming and shipping, he said.

The large number of chemical parks and the increasing number of marine drilling platforms also pose great environmental hazards, he added.

"Marine ecological degradation has yet to be curbed," he said.

The initiative to improve bay environments comes as water quality in the country's sea areas continues to improve.

During the summer of 2019, water from 97 percent of the country's sea areas stayed at Grade I, the highest quality in the country's four-tier quality system for seawater, up 0.7 percentage points year-on-year.

Summer is the most polluted season for the country's sea areas because of the pollutants that enter the sea via rainwater from the land.

Meanwhile, 28,340 square kilometers of sea areas were found with water below Grade IV, the poorest quality, down by 4,930 square kilometers year-on-year, according to the ministry.

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