21 February 2018

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04/16/2007 CHINA

Beijing admits fish in Yangtze River are dying

An official report reveals that the amount of solid and liquid waste, including industrial pollutants, pesticides and fertilisers, pumped into the Yangtze runs in the billions of tonnes. All life in the river is at the risk of extinction, even the common carp. The river provides 35 per cent of China’s freshwater resources.


Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Yangtze, China’s longest waterway, is so polluted that all life it contains is at risk of extinction, this according to a report released by the Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology (NIGLAS) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in association with the World Wildlife Organisation and the Yangtze River Water Resources Commission. The river, which is also the world's third longest, represents 35 per cent of the country’s total fresh water resources. And the disaster is of such magnitude that much of the damage “is largely irreversible.”

For NIGLAS Director Yang Guishan, more than 600 kilometres of the Yangtze River and nearly 30 percent of its major tributaries—Minjiang, Tuojiang, Xiangjiang and Huangpu are critically polluted.

Pollution, damming, heavy traffic, pesticides, fertilisers, sewage and freshwater use have caused a dramatic decline in Yangtze aquatic life. Rare species like the Baiji or white-flag dolphin, which had survived for 20 million years, are thought to be functionally extinct since none have been found in the most recent research expeditions. Even common species like the carp are gasping for survival, the report said.

The river's annual fish catch dropped from 500,000 tons in the 1950s to about 100,000 tons in the 1990s. Given the situation the absence of more recent official data is highly significant. And algae growth has become another major problem.

Fishermen along the river said even if they catch some fish from the polluted river, they dare not eat them,” said Li Lifeng, freshwater programme director of the WWF China.

Official data indicate that cities along the river annually dump at least 14.2 billion tonnes of waste into the waterway. Altogether more than 26 billion tons of wastewater, sewage and industrial waste, are pumped into the river.

During the report’s presentation on the week-end in Changsha (Hunan), Water Resources Minister Wang Shucheng said that the Yangtze’s problems could negatively affect the sustainable development of its delta area which accounted for 40 per cent of China's gross domestic product in 2005.

For experts the fact that the authorities are realising the seriousness of the problem is in itself something new; however, they also believe that the situation is actually worse than thought.

The Yangtze and Yellow River basins are home to some 11,000 thousand industrial plants. (PB)

See also

08/06/2005 CHINA
Controlling pollution a tough job for the government
The 2004 report by the State Environmental Protection Administration says pollution control is a tough job to do. Industrial development and local authorities dragging their feet are preventing the clean-up of waterways.

13/02/2018 16:14:00 CHINA
Pollution, smog up around Shanghai and Hong Kong

Tighter controls in Beijing drive factories south. China’s average PM2.5 emissions is 64 micrograms per cubic metre, more than six times the acceptable level set by the World Health Organisation.

28/05/2005 CHINA
China: Yellow River is "too polluted" even for swimmers

So say official sources, which point to drainage-related problems.

14/12/2006 CHINA
Some 60 per cent of the Yellow River, the cradle of Chinese civilisation, is dead
Tens of thousands of chemical plants discharge deadly toxic waste into the river. The country is suffering from economic development that has “sacrificed the environment”.

02/08/2006 CHINA
Beijing to invest 300 billion yuan to bring water to the north
Western route raises eyebrows for its cost, at least 300 billion yuan, and technical challenges. Work continues on water diversion on the central and eastern routes.

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