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Cold freezes sea-farmers' income

By Zhang Xiaomin in Dalian, Zhao Ruixue in Jinan, and Xin Dingding in Beijing (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-01-22 07:44
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Record low temperatures and the worst sea ice in 30 years have caused huge losses to sea-farmers and fishermen as well as chaos on the streets of Shandong and Liaoning provinces.

About 40 percent of the Bohai Sea's surface is already frozen. Sea-farmers said they expected nothing to be left by spring.

Fan Xinyuan, a resident of Jinzhou district, north of Dalian, Liaoning province, who raised 66.7 hectares of sea cucumber, told China Daily that if the temperature didn't rise and ice continues to block the sea, there will be no sea cucumbers left.

"We can do nothing about the large area covered with thick ice this year, because nobody can break it."

She said the ice will reduce the oxygen in the water, which may cause sea cucumber and seashells to stink.

The worst situation, she said, is that the water will be polluted by snow and influence sea cucumber's quality.

"We will definitely suffer losses the extent will only be known in spring when the ice thaws," she said.

As sea farming is easily influenced by weather, no insurance company is willing to sell insurance to farmers like Fan.

The fate of sea-farmers in Shandong is no different.

Ding Zhixi, an official of the Shandong provincial sea and fishing authority, said sea ice has affected 125,500 hectares of sea-farms. Sixteen fishing ports were blocked by ice, and nearly 4,000 fishing boats remain frozen in the sea.

Sea ice had cost Shandong 106,000 yuan ($15,526.36) in direct economic losses by Tuesday, he said.

The National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center said the sea ice will not melt anytime soon.

The ice in Bohai Sea is forecast to expand before Jan 25. The worst could extend to 35 nautical miles from the coast of Laizhou Bay, the center said on its website.

The freezing temperature, coupled with blizzards, has also disrupted traffic on the sea and roads.

Passenger and cargo transport in Laizhou Bay have completely stopped owing to strong gales on the sea.

All expressways linking Yantan have also been closed, and some 280 long-distance buses were canceled in Penglai, Shandong, yesterday.

"I have to pay 150 yuan for a taxi ride, which would have cost me 25 yuan in good weather," a local passenger told the state broadcaster CCTV.

Ice also covered a section of the railway electricity network in Shandong, forcing railway transport to suspend for more than two hours on Wednesday in the eastern province.

Related readings:
Cold freezes sea-farmers' income E China $146m in fishery loss due to sea ice
Cold freezes sea-farmers' income Worst sea ice in 30 yrs off E China
Cold freezes sea-farmers' income East China fishery hit by worst sea ice in 40 yrs
Cold freezes sea-farmers' income Oil tanker trapped in worst sea ice off east China

A number of trains were canceled or delayed, and many passengers were stranded at railway stations, Xinhua News Agency reported.

As a lesson from the freezing weather that hit southern China in early 2008 and stranded a few million passengers during the Spring Festival peak travel season, the Ministry of Railways yesterday ordered local bureaus to strengthen checks on facilities that may be covered with ice.

It also prepared 500 diesel-fueled engines and 750 power generators for emergencies.

The China Meteorological Administration said that in the next two days, the cold snap will continue to sweep the whole country, bringing gales, snowfall and freezing rain. Many parts of the country will expect a temperature drop of 8 to 10 C.