Treating the Sea Nicely
China should better protect the sea and develop a healthy marine industry for its long-term development, urged member Zhang Dengyi of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at this year’s CPPCC session in Beijing in March.

China is a major maritime country with a coastline of 32,000 kilometers. It has more than 6,500 islands dominating over 500 sq m each. The country has three million square kilometers of sea area, or one-third of its total land territory. It is also home to abundant sea plants and creatures, rich petroleum reserves and other mineral resources.

Zhang said the ocean could relieve the water shortage problem in China’s coastal regions once and for all, if seawater desalination technology is applied properly.

Most of the developed countries are marine powers. The regions along the coast are likely to develop so long as the marine economy develops, including the construction of wharfs, tourist areas and economic development zones.

The sea has played a more important role in fueling the Chinese economy as the marine industry has become a new economic growth point. In recent years, marine product breeding, marine tourism, marine medicine and marine cosmetics have flourished, making eye-catching achievements. In 1980, China’s marine products sector was worth only 6.4 billion yuan, while in 2000, this figure had increased to 400 billion yuan, a growth of 20 percent annually.

Although great strides have been made in the marine industry since China’s reform and opening-up started, problems still stand in the way of its further development.

Marine resources are being used up recklessly, which does damage to offshore resources and hampers sea transportation. Previously, the country boasted abundant yellow croakers. But, due to over-fishing, these fish are becoming endangered as their size becomes smaller.

Serious pollution has appeared in offshore areas, where the ecological environment needs to be protected in a more forceful way. Red tides occur in China more frequently and on a larger scale due to sewage and waste discharged into the sea.

Uniform management is lacking at present since different governmental organizations such as the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Transportation and the environmental protection bureau have overlapping functions, which weakens management and supervision in this regard.

To overcome these problems, Zhang urged that China should enforce the Management Methods for the Use of Sea Areas to guarantee an orderly and rational utilization of marine resources. The present haphazard offshore waters management system and related law enforcement should be coordinated to better protect marine resources, he stressed.

( 03/12/2001)