Route of new highway in Liaoning poses danger to harbor seals: activists

Source:Global Times Published: 2011-3-25 8:34:00

By Wen Ya

Animal rights activists in Liaoning Province have launched an online campaign to convince the local government to move a planned highway they believe would destroy the only breeding ground available for endangered harbor seals.

Tian Jiguang, head of Panjin Harbor Seal Protection Volunteer Association, told the Global Times Thursday that the planned 15-kilometer-long stretch of the highway, which is part of the Binhai Highway under construction, would cut through a breeding ground for harbor seals in Liudaogou waters, in Panjin.

"If the road comes across Lidaogou, the poor harbor seals will lose their breading place in China," Tian told the Global Times.

The Liudaogou waters in the Bohai Sea is the only spot in China and one of eight breading places in the world for harbor seals, a protected species that travels from South Korea every year from December to May to breed.

Tian said that once the road is built, the increased human activity and pollution would drive away harbor seals and the breeding spot would cease to exist.

The Panjin government released a statement last month soliciting public opinion on the project, which was evaluated by China Northeast Municipal Engineering Design and Research Institute.

A worker at the institute surnamed Su told the Global Times Thursday they started a new investigation in the feasibility of the project after they received several calls from people about the harbor seals. 

"If it really threatens the harbor seals, we'll suggest the government change to another route," Su told the Global Times.

The number of harbor seals in Panjin has decreased dramatically in past years due to human encroachment and pollution.

In the 1960s, there were 10,000 harbor seals in Panjin, but the number has dwindled to 300 in 2008 and just about 100 today, Tian said.

"The authorities seem indifferent to the issue," he said.

"So I hope the issue could catch more attention among Internet users and I wish they could choose another path that is a little farther from Liu Daogou breeding ground, " he added.

Posted in: Society

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