'Smelly-oil Fish' forcing PRD fishermen out of business
Excessive emissions of contaminated water in the Pearl River Delta (PRD) in southern China, home to over 120 million people, has "severely polluted" fishing ports and seafood in the area, experts said.
"The content of copper and zinc in fishing ports near Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Hong Kong and Macau is much higher than in other domestic waters," Zhang Gan, a researcher with the Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the Yangcheng Evening News.
"Accumulation of heavy metal elements in the area is closely related to the highly developed industrialization and urbanization nearby," Zhang said.
Potential ecologic risks are highest in Macau, followed by Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Maoming cities, Zhang said.
Huang Xiaoping, another CAS researcher, said lead content in fish raised in the area was as much as 53 times above the legal standard, and the content of copper in oysters was 640 times the legal standard.
Experts said the consumption of too much contaminated seafood may cause cancer or damage to human organs. They suggest removing the internal organs of shellfish before eating as that is where pollutants are most likely to accumulate.
Pollution in the area is forcing fisherman to give up their jobs, the newspaper said. Fish harvested along coastal areas of Guangdong have been dubbed "smelly-oil fish" by local restaurant managers.
"We cannot make money by fishing now. The water is polluted and fish is not delicious," a fisherman surnamed Zhang told the newspaper. "We are sending kids to study and develop their future on the land."
A 2010 report by Guangdong's ocean and fisheries administration said that 40 percent of the sewage discharged into the sea off the province contained pollutants exceeding state levels, and 16 percent of coastal waters were being polluted.
The report said 1.08 million tons of pollutants, including arsenic, were discharged into the sea in the Pearl River Delta last year, and about 70 percent of them from the mouth of the Pearl River.