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Rampant unauthorized sea reclamation in Sanya threatens oceans: NGO

By Jiang Jie (People's Daily Online)    16:25, May 04, 2017

(Sanya's sea reclamation construction under way    Photo/Courtesy of Friends of Nature)

A Beijing-based environmental protection NGO has revealed that Sanya, Hainan province is struggling with rampant sea reclamation construction far exceeding government-approved projects.

The NGO, Friends of Nature (FON), claimed in a report on May 3 that their investigation team discovered massive sea reclamation construction sites near Sanya's Hongtang Bay, allegedly spreading across 100 hectares. Meanwhile, local authorities have only approved projects to occupy 49.68 hectares.

FON further noted that a series of small reclamation project applications, each one to occupy an area of no more than 50 hectares, have been submitted to Sanya's Oceanic and Fishery Department. Together, these projects would cover 418 hectares – an area large enough to have a major impact on the environment.

(Sanya's sea reclamation construction under way  Photo/Courtesy of Friends of Nature)

Sanya’s sea reclamation construction projects began drawing attention in late April, when the city started to solicit public opinion on its reclamation project for a new airport, set to occupy more than 2,500 hectares. Many environmental activists have expressed concern that the project would cause damage to surrounding wildlife, including coral reefs and white dolphins, especially since a protected coral reef reserve is situated nearby.

The NGO cited the provincial oceanic and fishery authority as saying that the government could conduct assessments on individual projects, but the environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports should consider them as a whole.

FON alleged that many of the ongoing projects fail to block the spread of silt, noting that some construction sites have already been penalized for this infraction. Nevertheless, the NGO called on authorities to halt all illegal construction. 

Local authorities have not responded to the NGO's call as of press time.

According to the EIA report for the new airport, related sea reclamation construction will have only a minor impact on coral reefs, but preventative measures must be carefully implemented or greater damage will be done. Specifically, there must be strict oversight of silt in the water. The report suggested that coral reefs at risk of becoming buried by deposits should be relocated, and artificial reefs planted as additional habitat for coral.

(Sanya's sea reclamation construction under way     Photo/Courtesy of Friends of Nature)

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Jiang Jie, Bianji)

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