April 20, 2001
China’s Three Gorges dam isn’t fully operational yet, but it is already threatening one of the world’s biggest fisheries in the East China Sea. A drop in the amount of fresh water and sediment reaching the sea is to blame. The dam, which is the largest in the world, sits about 2000 kilometres upstream of the mouth of the Yangtze river, which empties into the East China Sea. The dam’s mammoth reservoir was partially filled for the first time in June 2003. Gwo-Ching Gong and colleagues at the National Taiwan Ocean University in Keelung, Taiwan, have been monitoring the ecosystem of the East China Sea since 1998. Within two months of the reservoir’s first filling they detected a massive decline in the phytoplankton that forms the base of the food chain. The team measured the amount of carbon dioxide being absorbed by the photosynthesising phytoplankton before and after the dam’s construction. … The full text of this article is available on the New Scientist website by subscription only.