CHINA / Regional

Coastal water pollution 'still serious'
(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-05-17 06:54

GUANGZHOU: Pollution is still at serious levels in the coastal waters off South China's Guangdong Province, according to experts.

Local authorities have taken a range of measures in recent years to tackle water pollution.

But Zhong Jianqiang, a researcher with the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, said the current attempts did not seem to be working.

Citing a recent report on the province's oceanic environment quality, he said there were still serious levels of pollution in coastal waters.

Related waters inshore, as well as the mouth of the Pearl River, have also been found to be contaminated with cadmium, arsenic and copper.

The ecological system of the mouth of the Pearl River was also very unhealthy, Zhong said.

He added that the drainage of land pollutants to the sea was among the key reasons for the poor sea quality and its poor ecological environment.

Pollutants discharged to the sea via the Pearl River reached as much as 2 million tons last year.

Zhong added that the water quality of almost all the estuaries near cities in the province was poor.

Guo Xingmin, an official with the provincial oceanic and fishing administration, admitted that current measures to tackle water pollution did not seem to be working.

He revealed the province would draw up new policies to keep the amount of pollutants discharged from the land strictly under control.

The province also plans to improve its monitoring system for the oceanic environment.

Guo told China Daily that special campaigns would be launched this year to stop illegal attempts to excavate sand from coastal areas, dump waste into the sea or build harbours or berths without official permission.

He said that the province would redouble efforts to build more oceanic and fishing protection zones across the province because of the amount of pollution.

To date, the province has set up 66 fishing protection zones, covering an area of 585,000 hectares.

Joint campaigns will also be launched with neighbouring Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions to protect the oceanic environment.

Li Ping, an associate researcher with the provincial oceanic resources research and development centre, said the healthy development of sea-related industries, including fishing and tourism, was vital to the province's sustained economic development.

Peng Chengzhang, a 57-year old fisherman who lives in the small fishing village of Pazhou, said: "It has become increasingly difficult to catch fish in the waters nearby in the past few years, so it has become increasingly difficult for my family to make a living.

"How I wish the day would come back again when there were good fishing seasons and we would just cast our net into the waters and rest assured of a good catch.

"We have to go much further away now to fish pollution is to blame."

The province has a coastline of about 3,370 kilometres.

The province raked in gross production output value of 300 billion yuan (US$36.99 billion) from the oceanic industry in 2005, an increase of 15.4 per cent from 2004.