Essay: China faces a massive marine pollution issue that is a hazard to the environment

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  • Subject area(s): Environmental studies essays
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  • Published on: October 18, 2015
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  • China faces a massive marine pollution issue that is a hazard to the environment
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China being a developing country has many international laws relaxed to enable it to develop. However the Country hasn’t done enough to adhere to guidelines when it comes to waste disposal, be it legal or illegal. China’s coastal waters are experiencing severe pollution, with the size of the worst affected areas up 50% on last year according to The State Oceanic Administration (SOA). Affected waters are deemed unsuitable for swimming, fish-farming, port use and are not even fit for some industrial purposes under certain classification (RT – Question More, 2013).
The enforcement of regulations is a major problem. In some regions the dumping of industrial waste has reached unacceptable levels, particularly in communities that lack resources to dispose of their waste properly. It is necessary to assist and educate the people of safe ways of waste disposal along with strategies to ensure waste stays away from rivers and isn’t transported down rivers through many cities and towns collecting additional waste items that flow into the seas and oceans where it accumulates and creates problems (, 2015).
As there is a booming economy the environment is forgotten, leading to illegal dumping. Areas where high levels of illegal dumping occur are commonly areas that have no way of implementing a better strategy. Forms of illegal dumping is seen as chemical, radioactive and municipal waste. A global ban on ocean dumping is not enough to eliminate the practice, and it will require all governments to have a workable plan to reduce the amount of waste, recycle some waste, and learn to modify waste that is dumped into the ocean so that it is less harmful. This suggests that new strict guidelines need to be put in place (, 2015).
Until there is an obvious indication of environmental damage, no action will be taken. This is a problem as the rate of destruction is quick when you take into account the industrialisation and growing economy. China has faced many visual marine pollution problems such as red rivers that can be caused by excess levels of mercury in the water as seen in 2012 when the Yangtze River turned red from illegal dumping by a nearby factory. This lead to many growing concerns as a visual representation of illegal dumping and its effects was brought to the forefront (Sant, 2014). There are more than 1,700 water pollution incidents in China every year. China is facing a serious water pollution challenge, especially in the densely populated regions. Up to 300 million residents don’t have access to safe drinking water (Sant, 2014). Environmental activists say that it would all depend on the enforcement of existing Chinese laws, which would be welcomed by the residents of Wenzhou, where 80 percent of the water off of the city’s coast is considered polluted. (Sant, 2014).
On 25 November 2008, Tania Branigan of The Guardian filed a report called “China’s Mother River: the Yellow River”, claiming that severe pollution has made one-third of China’s Yellow River unusable even for agricultural or industrial use, due to factory discharges and sewage from fast-expanding cities (Braningan, 2009). The Yellow River Conservancy Commission had surveyed more than 8,384 mi of the river in 2007 and said 33.8% of the river system registered worse than “level five” according the criteria used by the UN Environment Program. Level five is unfit for drinking, aquaculture, industrial use, or even agriculture (UNEP, 2015). The report said waste and sewage discharged into the system last year totaled 4.29b tons. Industry and manufacturing made up 70% of the discharge into the river with households accounting for 23% and just over 6% coming from other sources (Braningan, 2009). These sources of pollution is picked up by rivers that flow through China as they pass through cities and villages that are heavily industrialised with factories and agriculture. Soil contamination that seeps into rivers from irrigation (runoff from pesticides, fertilisers and insecticides) can cause algal blooms that kill fish and cause problems to fisherman and the industry with a section of China’s coastal waters being left without marine life because of massive algal blooms caused by the high nutrients in the water. The biological wealth is highest at coastal zones as it serves as feeding, nursery and spawning grounds with rich biodiversity, therefore essential to preserve (Environmental Pollution, 2004).
China having one of the busiest ports and shipping areas in the world means that pollution and contamination to the water is a high risk. Regulations of the ‘People’s Republic of China on the Prevention and Control of Marine Pollution from Ships – China’s first comprehensive system of marine pollution regulations’ take effect from 1st March 2010 (Miller, 2015). The Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) is the governing body that enforces regulations, supervising and administering prevention and control of marine pollution by ship operations. This shows that new legislations are being implemented in china to improve the quality of water, suggesting a positive attitude for the future.
If nothing is implemented it would mean further destruction to the environment and especially the marine environment that is of major use to the people in developing countries for uses such as fishing and drinking water, therefore of no benefit for the Chinese.

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