Breeding area in Bohai Sea slated to get better protection

Updated: 2014-05-02 10:31

By Zhu Chengpei and Zhang Xiaomin (China Daily)

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Breeding area in Bohai Sea slated to get better protection

Dalian Sunasia Ocean World, which has accepted more than 40 rescued spotted seals since 1999, is one of the largest bottle-feeding bases for spotted seals. [Photo provided to China Daily]

China's only national nature reserve for spotted seals will be narrowed for more effective protection, an official with the protective administration said.

As the breeding area for spotted seals in China, the reserve covers an area of 6,722 square km in the Bohai Sea near Changxing Island of Dalian, Liaoning province.

"We are planning to make some adjustments and optimization for more effective measures and better protection by narrowing down the range and avoiding human interruption in the core area," said Wang Tao, director of the administrative bureau of the Dalian Spotted Seal National Nature Reserve.

Wang said that before the area was upgraded to a national-level nature reserve in 1997, it was a traditional fishing area, and many shipping routes passed through it. A large area was laid out to prevent illegal hunting.

There had been rampant hunting for the seals' fur, oil (used for healing burns), and penises (used as an aphrodisiac).

The number of spotted seals in Liaodong Bay was sharply reduced from 8,000 in the 1940s to fewer than 2,000 in the late 1970s, according to the study of researchers led by Wang Pilie from the Liaoning Ocean and Fisheries Science Research Institute.

Since 1982, the local government has taken various measures to protect spotted seals.

"After many years of effort, people are highly conscious of the protection. There is almost no illegal hunting," Wang said.

Ma Zhiqiang, a Liaoning Ocean and Fisheries Science Research Institute researcher, participated in much of the rescuing work.

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