Without question, the major drawback of China’s rapid economic growth has been the tremendous negative impact on the environment. Now officials at the Ministry of Agriculture and the State Environmental Protection Administration say that the Bohai sea–China’s largest internal sea–has reached a tipping point. If measures are not taken to curb the dumping of pollutants into the sea from its tributary rivers, officials warn, the Bohai sea will be “dead” in as little as 12 years.
The Independent writes:
Known as “the fish storehouse” because of the habitat it provides for many rare migratory species, the Bohai is also one of China’s most high-profile environmental blackspots, along with the Yangtze delta and the Pearl river delta.
China’s coastal regions have enjoyed the lion’s share of burgeoning economic growth of recent years but they are also producing staggering quantities of waste. Factories and cities clustered along the shore of the Bohai sea, formerly known as the Gulf of Chihli, dump tons of pollutants into the bay, poisoning spawning grounds for many species of fish while companies harvest gold.
Hold on, it gets worse:
Barely any of the 40 rivers flowing into the Bohai sea is clean, including the mighty Yellow river, China’s second-longest. In January this year, the eastern Chinese province of Shandong lifted a pollution alarm on the Yellow river after a 66-mile-long diesel slick flowed into the Bohai.
“Pollution has caused extinctive damage to marine organisms in the sea,” said Mr Liu, a member of a parliamentary body called the National Committee of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
“No large throng of any variety of fish, crab and testacean can be spotted in the sea now, and the whole of the spawning area in the sea was polluted.”
As if those bad tidings weren’t enough, Shanghai Daily has even more to say on the subject:
From 1990 to 2004, 83 red tides were reported in the bay of the Bohai Sea, and more than 80 percent of the pollutants in the sea came from the continent. About 2.8 billion tons of contaminated water is dumped into the Bohai Sea every year, Liu said.
Once Bohai “dies,” Liu warned, it cannot revive for two centuries, even if it does not receive a single drop of contaminated water from rivers and continues to exchange water with other seas.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and the State Environmental Protection Administration, Bohai has become one of the worst polluted sea waters. The content of heavy metal in sea bottom mud is 2,000 times the national safety standard.
Eeesh. That is a lot of factual information, not a drop of which sounds positive. Most of the articles on China.org.cn seem pretty upbeat on China’s environmental activities, but 12 years until we get complete death in the Bohai sea? Shanghaiist is interested to see whether China can mobilize fast enough to prevent its “fish storehouse” from becoming an ecological nightmare. In the meantime, we are doing our part to reduce waste by not ordering so much food to impress our friends.
Also on Shanghaiist:
China points finger at polluters
Photo from WWF China.