Oil spill compensation must reflect fisherman rights

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Relevant authorities and companies should keep the rights and interests of local fishermen in mind when they negotiate compensation for two oil spills that recently occurred in north China's Bohai Bay, an investigation team said on Monday.

Local fishermen are checking the  scallops on Aug. 7, 2011, in North Changdao county, east China's Shandong Province. [ce.cn]

Local fishermen are checking the  scallops on Aug. 7, 2011, in North Changdao county, east China's Shandong Province. [ce.cn]

Investigators also stressed the protection of China's marine ecology in the formulation of the compensation plan.

The oil spills, first reported in June, have yet to be cleaned up. The State Oceanic Administration (SOA) has criticized ConocoPhilips China (COPC), a subsidiary of U.S. energy giant ConocoPhilips, for missing a deadline for cleaning up the spills.

Investigators inspected the spills, located in the bay's Penglai 19-3 oilfield, on Monday and listened to the COPC's report regarding the company's latest cleanup efforts. They also discussed ecological compensation for the spills.

The COPC admitted that ten oil leak sources have been found within 15 meters of the oilfield. A government ocean surveyor spotted three oil belts in the area. Several ships are currently working to clean up the spills.

Liu Cigui, director of the SOA and head of the investigation team, said the oil spills have seriously affected the bay's ecology.

"Fishermen's rights and the country's ecological interests should be valued and impact on local residents should be kept to a minimum," Liu said.

Liu said compensation for economic losses caused by the oil spills must be made, and those who suffer from damages unrelated to the spills should also receive assistance.

The investigation team is made up of officials from the ministries of land and resources, environmental protection, transport and agriculture, as well as the State Administration of Work Safety and the National Energy Administration.

The team has been tasked with figuring out the cause of the spills, evaluating the damage that has been done, suggesting appropriate punishments for those responsible and submitting an investigative report to China's cabinet, the State Council.

The oil spills have been seen spreading to beaches in north China's Hebei and Liaoning provinces. The spills have been blamed for losses in the provinces' tourism and aquatic farming industries.

Oil-drilling operations in the field are jointly conducted by COPC and the China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC), the country's largest offshore oil producer.

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