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Calls for ocean council

11-12-2010 10:39 BJT

An environmental advisory body has called on the Chinese government to establish a national ocean council to deal with the country's rapidly deteriorating marine environment.

The China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) made the call in a report issued at a conference, which kicked off in Beijing Wednesday.

The council's tasks would include strengthening communication between various gov-ernment administrations and coordinating multi-regional and multi-departmental ocean development projects, with the focus on the Bohai Sea to begin with.

Experts said at the conference that it will not be possible for China to centralize ocean management in the short term, and it is likely that multiple agencies will continue to administer such affairs. They said setting up an overall planning council between agencies will strengthen the system.

Many heavy industries in China are concentrated around coastal areas and oil extraction has grown, trends that have brought with them increasing risks to the marine environment.

As examples, the CCICED report cited the Gulf of Mexico oil spill and the pipeline explosion in Dalian in July.

Pollution off China's shores has also deteriorated in recent years.

In 2009, polluted offshore waters totaled nearly 147,000 square kilometers, accounting for half of China's coastal marine areas.

Polluted areas are mainly concentrated in large estuaries and bays, such as Liaodong Bay, Bohai Bay, Laizhou Bay, Jiaozhou Bay, and the Yangtze River Delta, the most developed coastal areas within China.


"The strategy of treatment after pollution is one of the most important causes of serious environmental problems," the report said.

The main environmental problems caused by pollution include harmful algal blooms, coastal erosion and salt-water intrusion and oil spills. The frequency of recorded algal blooms and affected areas is now 3.4 times that of the 1990s.

Furthermore, China's coastal areas have undergone four major sea enclosing and reclamation phases, posing further risks to the coastal environment.

It is reported that 5,780 square kilometers of sea have been targeted for reclamation by 2020.

The CCICED recommended that the National People's Congress and the State Council start studying and drafting a PRC Ocean Basic Law.

A platform to support and enhance public participation is essential in the decision-making process concerning ocean development projects, the report said.

It added various media should be employed to provide wide publicity and educate peo-ple about the importance of the ocean.

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Editor:Jin Lin |Source: Global Times

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