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Right to Use Sea Areas Up for Sale
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The right to use 1 hectare of sea, or the size of one and a half soccer fields, could be yours if you are willing to pay at least 300,000 yuan (US$39,000).


Since March 1, Qingdao in East China's Shandong Province has put up sea use rights for auction, and it is open to all individuals, Qingdao Morning Post reported on Friday.


"Qingdao will adopt the mechanism of compensated use of the sea this year. The offshore waters will be graded according to its natural endowment and economic value," said Zhao Zebin, director of the city's ocean and fishing bureau.


Individuals can buy areas of the sea through auction, except for marine reserves, areas of public interest, and areas used for national defense and national key projects.


Qingdao is the first city to introduce the auction, since the Ministry of Finance and the State Oceanographic Bureau co-issued a circular on raising and unifying the charge on sea use across the country in January.


The circular classifies the sea areas of 223 counties and city districts into six grades.


Qingdao's Shibei, Shinan and Sifang districts, Shanghai's Baoshan and Pudong districts, and Xiamen's Huli and Siming districts, all belong to the first grade category.


The category also includes Guangzhou's four districts and Shenzhen's five districts.


China Ocean News reported the new measures were introduced because the previous charge on sea use was relatively low, and many coastal cities had resorted to land reclamation.


The new charges and auction are expected to optimize the allocation of oceanic resources and economize natural resources, the newspaper said.


The charges vary based on the grade and the purpose of usage. People can use the sea for breeding, dismantling vessels, developing tourism and entertainment facilities, or building ports and shipyards.


The lowest fee, 300,000 yuan, allows for construction projects in the sixth grade sea area, while the highest charge, 1.95 million yuan (US$252,000), allows for the disposal of waste in the first grade sea area.


If two or more people are competing for sea rights to the same area, the price can be even higher.


The rights last for a maximum of 50 years.


(China Daily March 3, 2007)


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