Hainan aquaculture ponds razed in anti-pollution campaign

China has bulldozed 100 illegal aquaculture ponds in the southern island province of Hainan, signaling a deepening of its crackdown on water pollution.

Provincial TV has shown earthmovers filling in on lined and unlined shrimp and tilapia ponds located in Danzhou, near the coast outside the major city of Haikou. The official reason given for the closures was illegal land use; Hainan government statements describe informal aquaculture operations with “no license” to operate. A brick factory located nearby was similarly shuttered in the clampdown. 

China has been attempting to tackle chronic water pollution by closing pig farms and, more recently, aquaculture developments. This year, the government introduced a tax on slurry and other forms of water pollution in a bid to get producers to cut emissions. 

Nationwide inspections are being conducted by the Ocean Inspection Team (Hai Yang Du Cha Zu), a special national force set up under the State Oceanic Administration and the State Council (national government) in 2017. Since last year, investigators have fanned out across 10 provinces and closed several major real estate developments. With investigations ongoing in Fujian, Hainan, and Guangxi investigators are now being sent to Liaoning Province, home to seafood trading and cultivation hubs like Dalian.

The continuing expansion of the crackdown could have major implications for Chinese aquaculture given the informal, unlicensed nature of much of the pond sector. The clear-out of pig farms has tightened pork supply and impacted prices over the past two years. 


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