Dapeng New Area – just across Mirs Bay from Hong Kong – is planning to build a national marine park according to the Shenzhen Daily newspaper. The aim is to “create the first coral-themed marine ecological system in the country”, by which I think is meant the first man-made coral ecosystem in China.
Dapeng will install artificial reefs to connect the coral reef communities in Da’ao Bay with those in the Tung Ping Chau area of Hong Kong, in the hope of providing a good marine ecological environment
Dapeng New Area has commissioned marine protection organizations to install 68 artificial reefs and plant more than 13,000 coral seedlings in the sea area in recent years.
The new area said it will draw on the experience of Hong Kong’s marine parks and adopt tough protective measures to provide a good environment for the reproduction and growth of the coral reefs.
By joining hands with the Hong Kong Underwater Association they want to establish the first diving research base on the mainland to improve awareness of marine environmental protection and encourage NGOs to participate in coral conservation.
Currently there are 39 diving organizations in the new area.
Over the past two years, volunteers have completed 12 cleaning operations and salvaged more than 448 kg of marine waste, including fishing nets, fishing cages and plastic bags.
It is not just China destroying reefs in the South China Sea by reclaiming land to form island outposts to boost territorial claims. Vietnam is also reclaiming land by dumping enormous amounts of sand on two reefs destroying coral communities and changing the local ecology and likely adversely affecting fish stocks.
The photographs, shared with Reuters by Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), show an expansion of the land area of Vietnamese-controlled Sand Cay and West London Reef in the Spratly archipelego and the addition of buildings.
The director of CSIS’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (http://amti.csis.org/), said the work included military installations and appeared to have started before China began a flurry of reclamation projects last year. “On one site, it has constructed a significant new area that was formerly under water and at another it has used land reclamation to add acreage to an existing island,” Rapp-Hooper said.
The images showed that Vietnam had reclaimed about 65,000 square meters (699,654 square feet) of land at West London Reef and 21,000 square meters (226,042 square feet) at Sand Cay. This compared to 900,000 square meters (9.6 million square feet) reclaimed by China at a single reef, Fiery Cross.
Satellite images show that since about March 2014, China had conducted reclamation work at seven sites in the Spratlys and was constructing a military-sized air strip on one artificial island and possibly a second on another.
It appears that claimants to the South China Sea have entered into a land building race that destroys ecology and depletes fish stocks as a result. There can be no real winners in such a race – everybody will lose.
A new study published this year has found that divers cause significant damage to corals on Hong Kong reefs. At most of the locations studied, the percentage of broken corals exceeded the recommended no-action threshold of 4%, which means management intervention is justified.
Scientists from Hong Kong’s Baptist University surveyed coral breakage from diving activities in Hong Kong using transects at seven different sites. The results show a total of 81 broken corals with 3–19 broken colonies per site. The team found a significant link between the number of broken coral colonies and the number of divers visiting the site.
The branching Acropora and the plate-like Montipora suffered more frequent damage than expected from their numbers. This means that some corals species are more vulnerable to damage from divers. The implication is that high numbers of divers may alter the species composition and ecology of the coral reefs as a whole.
The study concludes that popular dive sites should be classed as “no-go’ areas for training divers.