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Water quality improving in Bohai Sea

Hou Liqiang
Updated: Sep 30,2020 09:09    China Daily

The Bohai Sea has seen continuous improvement in its water quality as the country forges ahead with a special pollution control campaign in its largest enclosed sea, an environmental official said.

Following a "sharp increase" from 2018, 77.9 percent of the water in the sea's offshore area was of fairly good quality by the end of 2019.

"The improvement has continued so far this year," Huo Chuanlin, deputy head of the marine department at the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, said at a news conference on Sept 25.

Under the country's four-tier quality system for seawater, the quality is considered fairly good if it reaches Grade II or above.

In the first quarter this year, the proportion of water with fairly good quality in the Bohai's offshore sea area increased to 79.4 percent. Monitoring so far in the third quarter has shown that the number has further jumped to 87.1 percent, he continued.

China released an action plan in December 2018 on the comprehensive treatment of pollution in the Bohai, setting the goal for the proportion of fairly good water quality in its offshore waters to be around 73 percent by 2020.

Huo said he is confident that the goal will be achieved if no unfavorable meteorological conditions or emergent environmental contamination incidents happen in the coming months.

The progress has been achieved thanks to concerted efforts by various central government bodies and governments of the four provincial regions around the Bohai-Liaoning, Shandong and Hebei provinces and Tianjin, he noted.

He said great breakthroughs, for example, have been made in pollution control in rivers that empty into the Bohai. Previously, 10 national monitoring sessions in such rivers were found with water quality below Grade V, the lowest in the country's five-tier water quality system for surface water. From January to August, all of the sessions have seen their water quality upgraded.

Guided by his ministry and the Ministry of Natural Resources, over 60 wetland remediation projects have been launched. As of mid-August, 3,300 hectares of wetland in the Bohai's coastal area have been remediated, he noted.

In Jinzhou, Liaoning province, for example, plants in a 165-hectare wetland near the mouth of the Daling River have been restored to help remediate the degraded ecosystem. In places where plants withered because of persistent drought in the river years ago, the plants sowed by local authorities survived.

"We created an environment that favors the growing and propagation of the plants by building a sea wall to prevent seawater from entering. The wall will be removed once they are strong enough to survive the invasion of the water," said Liu Xin, deputy head of the ecology and environment bureau of Linghai county, where the wetland is located.

Though the remediation project just started earlier this year, Liu, as an avid photographer who often comes to the area to take pictures, found migratory birds that chose to rest in the area have been on the rise.

Previously, he could only spot several swans. Now, their number is often in the hundreds. He has also found a flock of a species of bird that previously never showed up in the area in large numbers, he said.

Liu said Jinzhou is located on a migratory pathway, and every year 2 to 3 million birds rest in the city.

Zhang Jun, spokesman of the China Coast Guard, said it has ramped up patrolling and inspection to enhance the crackdown on environment-related violations in the Bohai area.

Law enforcement officers with the coast guard have seized 44 sand dredgers and 285,000 metric tons of sand so far this year. While punishing operators of over 600 fishing boats for violations, it also seized 43 illegal fishing vessels, he said.