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Program to Preserve Aquatic Biodiversity
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After decades of pollution and excessive fishing, China has determined to protect its aquatic organism resources, according to a program promulgated by the State Council in mid-February.

Boasting some of the most abundant biodiversity in the world, China is home to more than 20,000 aquatic organisms, said Chen Yide, deputy head of the Bureau of Fisheries with the Ministry of Agriculture.

"The decrease and destruction of aquatic plants and animals is more difficult to detect than organisms on land," said Fan Xiaojian, vice-minister of agriculture, adding that the conservation of hydrobionts is the weakest point of the nation's ecological construction.

According to a list issued by the State Council, the number of endangered aquatic organisms doubled to 169 in 2002 from 80 in 1988, said Chen.

For example, the commonly caught white-flag dolphin, a grey and black finless porpoise classified as acipenser sinensis, has now been added to the list of endangered aquatic animals, he said.

Of the 51 million tons of aquatic products that Chinese consume each year, only 67 per cent are from breed aquatic farms, said the official.

The program, based on a suggestion raised by 19 hydrobiologists in 2002, is the first of its kind in China.

It sets up detailed targets for the protection of aquatic organisms in three phases:

By 2010, the deterioration of the aquatic environment and the rising number of species on the brink of extinction will have been primarily curbed.

By 2020, China's aquatic environment stabilizes and the nation's fishing production fits its capacity.

By mid-century, a sound aquatic ecological environment will have taken shape; effective protection is made towards the species on the brink of extinction.

To achieve these goals, program puts forward three major measures: to protect important fishery resources through the strict administration of fishing boats and the lasting fishing bans; to improve aquatic biodiversity through the establishment of natural protection zones as well the breeding of endangered species; to curb aquatic pollution as well to decrease the involvement of human beings into major water areas.

The number of marine fishing boats will be slashed to 192,000 by 2010 from 22,200 in 2002, it said.

(China Daily March 1, 2006)


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