China’s Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the coast of the Yellow Sea-Bohai Gulf (Phase I) were inscribed on the World Heritage List as a natural site at the 43rd session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee.
The successful application of Yancheng Yellow Sea Wetland has filled the gaps in China’s coastal wetland type heritage, becoming the world’s second wetland heritage in the intertidal zone and the first world natural heritage in Jiangsu Province. Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the coast of the Yellow Sea-Bohai Gulf of China are located in the Yellow Sea ecoregion, containing the world’s largest continuous mudflat seashore. It is the central node of the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF), which is the most threatened migratory flyway worldwide and boasts the largest number of endangered and critically endangered species such as Spoon-billed Sandpipers. The area has a high biodiversity, with about 280 species of fishes and more than 500 species of invertebrates, providing a variety of food resources for millions of migratory birds.
However, in this area, there is an explosive growth of Pacific white shrimp farming shrimp sheds and the problem of disorderly management by the local government.
The farming of Pacific white shrimp was once widely promoted in the coastal areas of Nantong as a characteristic planting and breeding project. However, it is necessary to add a large number of salt-rich additives in the culture of Pacific white shrimp, and the pond water after discharge changes the physical and chemical conditions of the original land and destroys the original water and soil. Since March 2018, the Nantong Municipal People’s Government has required the counties to which it belongs to no more excavation or expansion of the farming area of Pacific white shrimp. The inland water farming area south of the 221 line has designated a banned breeding area, and more than 40,000 sheds have been demolished throughout the year. Most of the small sheds that were demolished belonged to farmers in Zhejiang Province.
Since then, it has quickly moved to Jianggang Town near the Dongtai Tiaozi Wetland in Dongtai City, and re-breeding in the surrounding areas has triggered the rapid growth of local small shed farming. Jianggang is located in the core area of the world natural heritage site in Jiangsu Province – China’s Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the coast of the Yellow Sea-Bohai Gulf (Phase I) (Yancheng Yellow Sea Wetland), and a paradise for the world’s migratory birds.
In June 2019, the Environmental Protection Office of Jigang Town, Dongtai City, the Office of the Leading Group for the Comprehensive Improvement of Rural Environment in Jigang Town, the Comprehensive Service Center of Agricultural Technology Promotion in Jigang Town of Dongtai City, and the Water Affairs Station of Jigang Town, Dongtai City jointly issued a notice. The farmers of Pacific white shrimp are required to dismantle illegally constructed sheds and stop breeding activities before July 15, 2019. “If it is not dismantled within the time limit, relevant departments will be organized for mandatory disposal”.
It is intriguing that the dates of the restriction period set by the relevant local authorities and China’s Migratory Bird Sanctuaries along the coast of the Yellow Sea-Bohai Gulf (Phase I) were inscribed on the World Heritage List as a natural site at the 43rd session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee are highly coincident.
How is the implementation of this notice jointly issued by multiple authoritative departments in Jianggang Town, Dongtai City today?
A field visit by a volunteer of China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) in April 2020 revealed that the number of shrimp breeding sheds in the Jianggang area has been increasing unabated, and the activities of stealing groundwater in private are also rampant. The volunteer reported the findings to the CBCGDF policy and research department.
It is understood that shrimp breed sheds in Jianggang Town in Dongtai, Jiangsu are showing a trend of “sporadic development”. Many feed dealers excavate shrimp ponds at different locations and set up shrimp sheds. One shed is about 0.8 mu, and then resells them to farmers in Zhejiang and other regions at a rent of 20,000 yuan per shed, and then sells shrimp medicine and feed to them to make huge profits from it. This also shows the omission of the local government in the management of this industry and has not carried out highly integrated planning and management from the perspective of maintaining the world heritage migratory bird habitat.
Here, the CBCGDF volunteer cannot help but want to ask: Is there a proper land use permit? Is there any illegal operation by the local government? How much damage will the local ecological environment be caused by the establishment of such a large number of shrimp ponds?
CBCGDF urges the relevant departments to pay attention to it, from the perspective of maintaining the world heritage, quickly rectify the phenomenon of the flooding of Pacific white shrimp farming in the area, and take effective measures to eliminate the impact on the natural ecological environment.
Original Chinese article:
By / Zhang Daqian Modified / Niu Jingmei