Programme to protect fishery waters
A comprehensive action plan to preserve water creatures is expected to take effect next year, a Ministry of Agriculture official said Tuesday.
The landmark programme will help curb an increasing incidence of fishery water pollution and overfishing, said Wu Xiaochun, a division director with the ministry's Fisheries Bureau.
China recorded 1,274 cases of polluted fishing waters in 2003, which resulted in losses of 713 million yuan (US$85.9 million), according to an annual bulletin on the country's fishery water environment.
The figure represented an increase of 325 million yuan (US$39 million) from the previous year, according to the bulletin, which was released by Wu's ministry and the State Environmental Protection Administration Tuesday in Beijing.
Although the overall situation on China's fishery ecology and environment remained "good" last year, some off-shore and inland water bodies were seriously polluted, Wu quoted the bulletin as saying.
Major pollutants cited in the bulletin include nutrient salt, organic substance, oil and heavy metals.
"Many people are talking about `desertification' on land ... In fact, there is a `desertification' trend in water bodies in China," Wu said.
Largely due to everyday sewage and industrial discharges from land, many waters have become unfit for water creatures to live in, he said.
Besides, pollution and overfishing have contributed to pushing an increasing number of water creatures to the brink of extinction, Wu said.
For example, 92 freshwater fish species -- accounting for 10 per cent of the country's total in inland waters -- are at risk of vanishing, warned Jia Xiaoping of the Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences.
The comprehensive action plan, which the ministry began putting together two years ago, will enhance people's awareness of the need to protect aquatic creatures, which are often less "visible" than terrestrial plants and animals, Wu said.
In addition, it will co-ordinate efforts from various government departments -- such as fisheries, water resources and environmental protection agencies -- to pursue sustainable development of aquatic industries, he said.
The action plan also highlights measures to prevent construction projects on rivers from ruining the habitats of fish, Wu said.
Apart from restocking rivers and lakes with fish, China has implemented fishing moratoria on its vast marine regions since 1995, and banned fishing on its longest river -- the Yangtze -- last year, Wu said.