Exploit Chinese Marine Resources

China must strengthen its marine development and work harder at its high-tech marine economy. Oceanographic engineering technology should be the backbone of the development of the economy.

These were the remarks made by Song Jian, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and president of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, at the Marine Technology Industrialization Forum, which opened in Rongcheng, a coastal city in East China's Shandong Province, on Saturday.

The three-day forum is sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Engineering and the Shandong provincial government. More than 150 oceanologists participated in the forum, themed around developing marine-related high-tech companies and their development. Twelve of the most famous marine scientists attended the discussions.

Song said the 21st century faces three major problems: a rapidly increasing population, a shortage of resources and a deteriorating environment, and should look to the sea for solutions.

China's marine economy has made annual increases of 20 per cent since 1990. High-tech marine companies have been embracing growth. To date a "blue industry group" has been formed, which includes commercial fishing, marine petroleum, marine chemistry and marine-based pharmaceuticals.

In 1999 the value of the country's sea industries reached 380 billion yuan (US$46 billion). Commercial fishing has reached 24.7 million tons, one-fourth of the world's output, valued at 180 billion yuan (US$21.7 billion).

Song said the industry's rapid increase can be attributed to technological breakthroughs in the breeding of marine life, making China the largest producer of kelp, prawns, abalone and scallops in the world.

China has listed the development of marine industries as one of its top priorities for the Ninth Five-Year Plan (1996-2000). It has spent 360 million yuan (US$43.5 million) on the industry, mainly in marine prospecting, marine biology and the exploration and development of marine resources.

The country will invest more in the field during the 10th Five-Year Plan period.

Song said China's fishery industry is still very weak, compared with other countries. So it will have to further support the field and set up an information service system to help spread high-tech developments.
He also stressed that the country must make efforts in deep-sea fishing.

China is a big maritime state, and its coast spreads along 18,000 kilometers. It has more than 5,000 islands dominating 3 million square kilometers of sea area.

It also housed more than 20,000 different species of sea creature. The continental shelf contains more than 15 billion tons of petroleum reserves and is rich in other mineral resources.

(China Daily 09/18/2000)

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