Fate of China’s Fisheries Unknown Following Bohai Sea Oil Spill

Created on Tuesday, 13 September 2011

A recent oil spill in China’s Bohai Sea has raised concerns about the lasting impacts the incident may have to China’s local fishing industry and the surrounding marine environment. The spill began in early June after a reported failure of the central control system on a main oil platform in the Penglai 19-3 oil field.

In an apparent cover up a press release was not announced by joint owners American based Conoco Phillips and China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) until late June and the spill did not make headline news until early July.ChinaFishMarket

CNOOC announced on July 3rd that the leak of crude oil was under control and that the clean up of the effected 1 square kilometer of ocean was almost complete. China’s State Oceanic Administration (SOA) however reported in mid July that although a clean up was underway the leak was still not entirely under control and that the crude oil directly affected 158 square kilometers of ocean with water quality downgraded in upwards of 3,400 square kilometers of ocean.

Effects of the spill are already being seen in north China’s Hebei province where scallop farmers are reporting unprecedented mortalities of upwards of 70% of their seedlings. Farmers are detecting oil particles in the affected scallops as well as along their local beaches. The economic loss has thus far been estimated at 350 million Yuan or 54 million USD. Some of the scallop fishermen are organizing a lawsuit against CNOOC and Conoco Phillips for the damages they have already incurred from the effects of the oil spill.

The scallop fishery may be the first of many to be adversely affected by this unfortunate event and only time will tell the lasting impacts to the Bohai Sea ecosystem.