A temporary protection zone has been set up in Dapeng Bay seawaters since the end of the seasonal fishing ban in the South China Sea to protect an Eden’s whale, local authorities said Wednesday.
The whale is affectionally known to Shenzhen residents as “Xiaobu,” who has been lingering in waters there for more than a month.
The zone currently covers 64 square kilometers in Dapeng Bay off Shenzhen and is subject to changes based on the whale’s activities, according to the city’s fishery department.
Yachts, recreational and tourism vessels, motorboats and sailboards are banned in the area, while fishing boats are prohibited from fishing in it. Ships passing the area are asked to sail at a low speed and take precautions to avoid the whale.
Ships and personnel that violate the rules will undergo accountability inquiry.
The restrictive measures for the temporary protection zone will be effective until the whale leaves the area.
Prior to the end of the fishing ban, Dapeng New Area authority called on fishing boats not to operate in sea areas off Guanhu, Shayuchong, Tuyang, Xichong, Dameisha and Xiaomeisha.
“There is no garbage or fishing net found in the areas,” said a staffer in charge of protection work.
A total of 42 fishing vessels answered the call and kept their distance from “Xiaobu” on Monday, the day when the 108-day summer fishing moratorium in the South China Sea ended.
Since “Xiaobu” was first spotted foraging in the sea area off Dapeng on June 29, Depeng’s marine law enforcement team has strengthened patrol there and formed a special group to keep an eye on “Xiaobu” by drafting out daily escort plans.
The group also maintains order at sea, dissuades unrelated vessels and quickly organizes cleanup campaigns to clear discarded and broken fishing nets from the waters around “Xiaobu.”
Related authorities have conducted drills and worked on emergency plans in case “Xiaobu” gets stranded, even though experts have said the risk of the whale being stranded is low at present.
The highly biodiverse Dapeng Bay was named as a model “Beautiful Bay” by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment last year.