Nation sees results of efforts to revive its marine life


Marine scientist Chen Hong inspects coral samples off the coast of Sanya, Hainan Province. [Photo/China Daily]

China’s efforts to clean up its marine environment and restore coral reefs are starting to bear fruit, according to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

Ke Chang, director of the ministry’s marine ecology and environment department, told media last month that the quality of the country’s marine environment had “generally improved” in recent years.

Coastal wetlands are being restored and land-based pollution sources have been improved, reducing the amount of wastewater discharged into the sea.

The government has made marine biodiversity one of the key elements of the country’s 14th five-year plan (2021-25).

The country’s coral reefs, which cover more than 38,000 square kilometers, are an area of ​​increased interest.

These reefs are an integral part of marine biodiversity and are rich breeding grounds for marine life, but they are threatened by global warming and their future in many parts of the world is at risk.

China’s coral reefs are located along the southern coast and off the island of Hainan and the island groups of Dongsha, Xisha, Zhongsha, and Nansha.

A report by the Coral Reefs Branch of the China Pacific Society released late last year said the main threats to the country’s reefs are climate change, human activities and coral disease.

He said climate change has contributed to rising water temperatures, increasing acidification, rising sea levels and extreme weather events such as rising sea levels. intensity of typhoons and floods.

One of the main contributors to the report, Lian Jiansheng, a professor at the Institute of Oceanology of the South China Sea, or SCSIO, said other factors such as overfishing, illegal fishing, coastal development and tourism have also had an impact on the development and growth of the reefs.

He said the pressures on China’s reef systems are complex, citing pollution and destructive fishing as two examples.

Lian said in the report that reef areas such as the Xisha Islands have been degraded on a large scale, in large part due to the crown of starfish, a sea creature that feeds on hard coral.

A concerted effort is being made, not only by China but also by other countries of the world, to protect coral reefs, he said.

In the late 1980s and 1990s, China established several reserves of coral reefs.

Lian said, “Over the past four decades, the protection of reef-building corals and coral reefs has been listed as indispensable content in laws, regulations, rules and plans for the protection of the marine ecological environment and protection. species from my country.

“The research and practice of ecological restoration of coral reefs carried out by some scientific research institutions in the South China Sea and the South China coast, as well as the private contribution to the protection of coral reefs, have jointly contributed to the protection and restoration of corals. reefs in China. “

The nation began researching its coral reefs in the 1950s, but only a few institutions and scientists were involved, with little overall planning or funding.

The scope and continuity of the research was limited, but resumed in the early 2000s. In 2005, the “908” project was launched, which at the time was the largest study of China’s coastal waters.

Since then, improved coastal management and protection laws have led to stronger conservation and research on coral reefs.

Lian said there are now coral research and monitoring teams at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Natural Resources, as well as some universities. NGOs are also involved.

Two years ago, China embarked on a 10-year plan to revive ravaged marine life in the South China Sea, creating an organization to protect coral reefs.

Experts from agencies, including the SCSIO, which depends on the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the Chinese Academy of Fisheries Sciences, will contribute to a Chinese association for the protection of coral reefs created in December 2019 in the province of Hainan.

According to the 10-year plan released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, China must contain coral erosion in major reefs and create conservation areas to protect 90% of its corals by 2030.


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