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Honghu Lake’s restoration epitomizes Hubei’s environment protection program

By Jelly F. Musico (People's Daily Online)    14:46, July 17, 2017

HUBEI – Numbers of empty houseboats are still docked on the banks, they are not waiting for tenant fishermen but ready to be taken out of Honghu Lake wetland as Hubei province accelerates campaign to protect environment while maintaining robust economic growth.

Patrol boats docked ready for daily round and other activities as part of revival and protection of Honghu Lakes in Hubei province.

Honghu Lake is one of the thousand lakes in Hubei province but illegal fishing and construction around the lake had proliferated, prompting government to launch a massive clean-up and restoration program over a year ago.

More than 1,500 households living on houseboats have been relocated while fish nets have been dismantled to revive the natural splendor of the 14,000-square-kilometer Honghu Lake wetland.

”We have to remove all the fish nets around to restore and preserve Honghu Lake’s beauty because it is China’s seventh largest lake wetland and is now listed as Wetlands National Nature Reserve,” Zhu Junhua, director of HongHu Lake Wetland Bureau, told the foreign journalists who recently visited the lake.

Upon the direction of the central government, Zhu said local government has alloted RMB300 million for relocation of the 1,500 households and additional RMB50 million for clean-up operation of Honghu lake.

”Each household has been given RMB200,000 while livelihood trainings have been given for the fishermen and free education for their children,” Zhu said.

Shi Changhao, deputy director of Honghu Lake Wetland Bureau, said fishing is still allowed but only through traditional way while fishing from March to June is prohibited to allow small fish to grow.

“We need to preserve our lakes, especially this Honghu Wetland. This is for future generation of our people,” Shi said.

He said Honghu Lake is home of 138 different kind of birds, 62 types of fish, 18 amphibian and reptile as well as 13 mammal, 379 zooplanktons, 472 vascular plants and 280 phytoplankton species.

Shi said reviving the natural beauty of Honghu lake would boost its potential as one of the tourist spots of Hubei province.

Located in central China along the middle reaches of the magnificent Yangtze River, Hubei has over 1,300 lakes but the number dropped to 800 in the last six decades due to rapid industrial development, urbanization, over-exploitation of water resources and reclamation.

Yan Xingqiao, deputy director general of Hubei province's foreign affairs office, said 20 percent of Hubei’s total land area of 185,900 square kilometer comprises lakes, 56 percent mountains and 24 percent plain areas.

"In line with President Xi Jinping’s call for green development, we encouraged our enterprises and companies to follow the province’s environment regulations or else their businesses will be shut down," Yan told foreign journalists.

He said Hubei has been putting a lot of emphasis on the development of "Green Hubei," where companies and enterprises are obliged to adopt eco-friendly innovation and development.

"So far these enterprises and industries have been doing a good job in protecting the environment," Yan said.

Yan said violators face stiff penalties like shutting down of business for violating the province’s rules and regulations based on central government’s guidelines.

Hubei province covers an area of 185,000 square kilometers with a population of over 61 million.

In 2016, the province’s gross domestic product (GDP) totaled RMB 3.2 trillion, ranking the seventh in China.

Jelly F. Musico is a senior reporter of the Philippines News Agency (PNA) and currently an intern at the People's Daily Online.

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(Web editor: Wu Chengliang, Bianji)

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