Anthropogenic pollution in the yellow and east china sea
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Anthropogenic pollution in the yellow and east china sea

Manuela Köllner

Meike Demgen

Marlene Klockmann

China is a fast growing country, not only in the industrial sector. The population is increasing rapidly. Due to economic advantages there is a high migration into the urban areas. Most of these are located at the coast. Urbanization is responsible for strong pressure on the marine ecosystem. Water quality is aggravating and the amount of marine litter is increasing steadily.

I. Urbanization in China

Problems due to urbanization

The pressure created by the urbanization will intensify.

The demand for energy and water will increase rapidly and the pollution will be severe (see Fig. 2).

Today almost 60 % of the river water is already below international potable standards.

China's cities will need to spend millions on social provisions, infrastructure and finding sufficient resources against pollution.

Since 1949, coastal wetlands have been reclaimed by the cities. This leads to habitat modifications in the large marine ecosystem (LME). China has planned to reclaim a further 45 % of its mudflats [4].

China's urban population has more than doubled from 254 million people in 1990 to 572 million in 2005. Over the past 15 years, migration, city land expansion and natural growth led to this high urban population growth. Industrialization, investment and job creation are largely focused on the urban centers, so that the people migrate from the inland to the big cities at the coast. Also, the length of time for a village to become a city has shortened. Shenzen was a village with an urban population of 10.000 people in 1980. Today it holds more than 9 million people. This process took a few hundred years in Europe. The current trend will probably continue over the next 20 years [2].

Fig. 1) Shanghai 1950 and 2010 [1]

Anthropogenic pollution in the Yellow and East China Sea

Fig. 2) Total energy consumption in China [3]

II. Water quality

III. Marine litter

Marine litter refers to any kind of solid waste. It is of anthropogenic origin from land- and sea-based sources. It consists of all kinds of plastics, garbage and lost or abandoned fishing gear.

It accumulates in oceanic convergence zones, on the seafloor or is washed ashore [9].

About 80% of the ocean pollution is based on land sources. China has set a Sea Water Quality Standard to categorize coastal waters [5].

Fig. 3) Hainan Province, China SWQS Grade >IV [6].

Tab. 1) Sea Water Quality Standard of China (SWQS) [7]

Fig. 8) Domestic solid waste forming marine litter [6]

Globally, the amount of debris washed ashore is increasing. Although the use of plastic in Asian countries is still lower than in Western European countries (20 kg and 100 kg per year and person, respectively) [10], the levels of pollution in the Yellow and East China Sea are equal to or exceeding the global average [11].

More than 173.000 km² of the Chinese coastal waters were of less than Grade I quality of the SWQS in 2001. 32.000 km² were very heavily polluted (worse than Grade IV). These areas are located close to medium and large cities and estuaries with high population densities. At present, contamination from land runoff is the most significant contributor to coastal environment pollution [5].

Marine litter can have sub-lethal consequences on marine organisms through ingestion or entanglement.

Plastic is not bio-degradable. It remains in the water column for hundreds of years, while it is defragmented into small particles. These particles tend to accumulate toxic substances.

Fig. 9) Albatross died of ingestion of plastic [12]

Fig. 4) Area comparison of water quality worse than Grade I of SWQS along China coastal ocean in 1990s [5].

Within the last years, several regional and international marine protection programs were started.

But there are several barriers to overcome, e.g. few available data and a lack of public interest.

Sea Water Quality in 2006[8]

Fig. 10) Solid waste on the sea floor, littering a coral reef [6]

Fig. 5)Bohai Sea

Fig. 6) Yellow Sea

Fig. 7)East China Sea

References:[1], 2011

[2] , 2011

[3] China- Environmental cost of pollution

[4] Large Marine Ecosystem 2009

[5] Daoji, Li and Daler, Dag: Ocean Pollution from Land-based Sources: East China Sea, China 2004

[6] UNEP. 2007. Land-based Pollution in the South China Sea. UNEP/GEF/SCS Technical Publication No. 10.

[7] Ministry of environmental protection of the people’s republic of China: GB 3097-1997

China started a few programs to protect the sea from land-based pollution. These are for example the Blue Sea Action Plan including a survey of the environmental situation of the rivers and estuaries, the pollution source inspection and the monitoring of pollution. Other examples are the Establishment of Marine Protected Areas and the Global Program of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA) [8].

[8] Report On the State of the Environment In China 2006

[9] UNEP/COBSEA (2009). State of the Marine Environment Report for the East Asian Seas 2009 (Chou , L.M. ed). COBSEA Secretariat, Bangkok.

[10] UNEP Year Book 2011: Emerging issues in our global environment, United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi.

[11] UNEP EAS/RCU (United Nations Environment Programme East Asian Seas Regional Coordinating Unit), 2008. Marine litter in the East Asian Seas Region. United Nations Environment Programme. 64 p.


Spezialbereiche der Ozeanographie I - Wintersemester 2010/2011