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Longtime fisher now reef protector

By Ma Zhiping in Haikou and Liu Xiaoli in Sansha | China Daily | Updated: 2018-01-13 14:15

Three days a week, reef protector Fu Mingyou, 42, travels to Xishazhou Island with three other workers after sailing 4 nautical miles from Zhaoshu Island in Hainan province. There, they collect garbage brought in by the tides, mainly plastic bags and glass bottles, in the surrounding waters.

Fu is a former fisherman from the port area of Tanmen in the city of Qionghai on eastern Hainan Island.

He has been working as a reef protector since the government in Sansha, China's southernmost city, started to implement the island chief system in the Qilianyu Islands in September.

"Sometimes we collect bags of rubbish for a day and bring them back for disposal on Zhaoshu Island," Fu said.

Fu also is charged with checking and recording sea turtle nests on the island to provide detailed information to the local government to better protect the creatures.

Sansha introduced the island chief system on a test basis in September. Island chiefs were appointed for the Qilianyu Islands to better safeguard the marine environment, according to the Sansha government.

The island chief system has two levels, with the director of the Qilianyu Islands office serving as the general island chief, and seven other island chiefs responsible for jurisdiction over specific islands including the Zhaoshu, North, Xishazhou, Nanshazhou, Zhongshazhou, Zhongdao and Nandao, and Beishazhou islands.

They carry out investigations and collect data for each island and reef, provide advice on environment protection, solve pollutant emission problems in collaboration with other departments, and monitor and punish illegal tourism and fishing. They also encourage the growth of vegetation.

Fifteen fishermen have been hired, said Zou Zhi, associate consultant with the administration office for Zhaoshu Island.

"The number of sea turtle nests on the islands has increased from 52 in 2014 to 168 this year," he said, and cases of illegal tourism and illegally landing on the islands have been deterred.

Marine environmental protection has been a top concern since Sansha was established in 2012.

"Considering its fragile ecology, Sansha must put environmental protection in first place," said Shi Haitao, a professor of turtle research and conservation and vice-president of Hainan Normal University.

"Implementing the island chief system shows local government considers environmental protection very important.

"The practice of naming government officials as island chiefs will strengthen cooperation with other departments and improve the efficiency of marine protection," Shi said.

Fu said, "I have lived on Zhaoshu Island more than 15 years, and it is becoming more beautiful thanks to all the efforts the government has made.

"Awareness of environmental protection among the fishermen living here also has improved."

Contact the writers at mazhiping@chinadaily.com.cn

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