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Road to give seal habitat wide berth, activist says

By  Wu Yong and Liu Ce (China Daily)

15:14, December 14, 2011

Harbor seals bask in the sun in their habitat in Panjin, Liaoning province, in March. The Panjin government intends to move a planned road 6 km to the south to protect the habitat. Provided to China Daily

PANJIN, Liaoning - Officials in this Northeast China city are considering modifying a highway project to protect endangered harbor seals, according to the Panjin Harbor Seal Protection Association.

The 12.5-kilometer road is part of a seashore highway project begun in 2004 to link the six cities in Liaoning province that line China's Bohai Bay. The road construction was finished in five cities by the end of 2009, leaving Panjin struggling with environmental-protection issues.

The Panjin government plans to move the route 6 km to the south to avoid the harbor seals' central habitat, according to Tian Jiguang, who set up the seal protection association in 2007.

"Although the government hasn't officially announced the plan, and it needs further research, I am nevertheless really happy that our work will help protect cute animals. This success shows that good interaction between government and the public helps resolve problems," Tian said.

The harbor seal, listed by the central government as a protected animal, travels to China from South Korea between December and May each year to give birth in Panjin, said Lu Zhichuang, a researcher from the Liaoning academy of fishery sciences.

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