Across China: Polluted lake in the past, now cash cow for sports, eco-tourism

Source: Xinhua| 2018-09-01 09:24:29|Editor: ZX
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NANCHANG, Sept. 1 (Xinhua) -- Gong Langbo, a 20-year-old water skier, is warming up for her daily training by a lake.

As a member of the Chinese Youth Waterski Show Team, she has been training here for months. In April, the team set up its training base at Lushan Xihai Lake in Wuning County, east China's Jiangxi Province.

In her spare time, she also likes to dive underwater and observe the endangered freshwater jellyfish that live in the lake. "The jellyfish look like peach blossoms in full bloom or little umbrellas; they are so beautiful," she said.

The lake is clear now, but in the past, nearly half of the lake was occupied by fish cages, said Huang Benfu, 51, a local fisher.

Since 2008, the county invested nearly 600 million yuan (about 87.9 million U.S. dollars) in cleaning the lake. More than 300 fish farms were closed and 25,000 fish cages removed, and fish that produced large amounts of waste such as weever and mandarin fish were replaced with silver and bighead carp that help filter the water.

The local government also arranged jobs for all 500 local fishers at a fishing company. "My wife and I are now working for the company's logistics department. We earn about 8,000 yuan a month, more than what we earned when we were fishers," Huang said.

"I fished here for more than 30 years, and a lot of changes have taken place," he said. "For instance, fishers would catch a range of small and large fish in the past, but now, we only keep the big fish and release small fish back into the lake to protect the water."

Li Fei, the teams' coach, also feels the changes. "We did some training at the lake 10 years ago, but it was so inconvenient because we had to avoid fish cages," he said. "Now, the fish cages are gone, and the water has become more clear. It's a perfect place for our training, which is why we set up our training base here."

With the water quality and environment improving, the local government has been developing the sports industry in recent years, and a tennis contest center and aviation camp have been built.

Moreover, a cycling contest has been held annually in the county since 2014, and more than 200 athletes from over 30 countries and regions including Australia, France and the United States have taken part, attracting more than 80,000 tourists.