Xiamen's marine eco-restoration is a task in China's 12th 5-Year Plan
Marine ecological restoration has been included for the first time in the country's highest-level planning.
The inclusion of a key anti-pollution task in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) is part of a concerted effort to deal with the problem of worsening marine pollution.
Wang Bin, deputy director of the department of marine environment protection at the State Oceanic Administration, said on Friday that China's marine and coastal areas are suffering from massive pollution. He said the prevention and control of pollution from industrialized coastal areas will be a major task during the coming five years.
About 5 billion tons of polluted water pours into the Bohai Sea annually, he said.
In addition, six of the country's 10 largest rivers are heavily polluted with waste water - including the Yellow River and the Yangtze River.
Wang said a fall in the volume of fresh water, caused by an excessive use of water and reliance on huge dams, is the main reason for an increase in offshore salinity. The increasingly salty water has, in turn, affected coastal habitat and the hatching behavior of shrimp.
"The amount of fresh water discharged into the Bohai Sea has been cut in half during the last five decades," Wang said.
He made the remarks at the 2010 International Ocean Forum in Xiamen, Fujian province.
According to Wang, China will protect both the upstream areas of watersheds and the near-shore areas in the coming five years and control discharges from coastal industries.
He said the government is planning to limit the amount of pollution that flows into the sea.
"We will not only focus on supervising COD (chemical oxygen demand), which measures the amount of organic pollutants found in surface water, but also, for the first time, list the limitation of emissions of nitrogen and phosphorus, which causes eutrophication (the overfertilization of water with nutrients and the subsequent loss of oxygen)," Wang told China Daily on Friday.
"In addition, construction that affects the coastline of such things as dams and sea walls will be strictly examined to ensure they are not adversely impacting the environment."
For most Asian countries, increasing population and rapid industrial development have put pressure on the environment, said Jan Lundqvist, senior scientific adviser with the Stockholm International Water Institute.
"During my last trip to Xiamen in 2007, I was impressed with the fast development of local industry, but there's no such thing as a free lunch in this world and I also noticed the pollution," Lundqvist said.
"But a trend need not be destiny. I believe you all know Stockholm is a beautiful place. But in the 1960s, people were not even allowed to swim in the sea there because of the heavy pollution.
"Now, we can eat the fish caught in the water. The most important thing is what we are able to change in the next three decades."
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