Organized by China Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) and
undertaken by the Shanghai Maritime Safety Administration, the
Shanghai International Maritime Forum 2007 opens in the city
on November 6.
The theme of this year's forum is "Global Concern on the Oil
Transportation and Marine Environment Protection."
Senior officials from the International Maritime Organization
(IMO), China's national and local MSAs and international experts in
the field of oil pollution compensation, as well as representatives
from shipping companies, insurance and emergency response
companies, will attend the two-day forum, which closes tomorrow.
They will discuss the following topics:
High-quality management of anti-pollution oil
The status quo and development of the implementation of
international convention on anti-pollution measures,
Key problems and technologies of contingency management related
to marine pollution,
The legal and technical issues concerning compensation for
marine pollution damage.
China's achievements in marine environment protection and the
problems it faces in the present scenario of rising maritime
transportation, especially oil transportation, are the focuses of
Shanghai Maritime Safety
Administration and local emergency response teams rescue a sinking
ship near the city.
China, a big shipping nation, has more than 1 million oceangoing
vessels, the ninth highest in the world, while the scale of its
container fleet takes third place. It has 18,000 km of coastline,
110,000 km of inland navigable waters, vast sea areas and rivers
crisscrossing the entire nation.
Marine environment protection has become an important basis for
the sustainable social and economic development of the nation as
well as the whole world.
Oil import and transportation have experienced a surge in China
in recent years, in keeping with the nation's rapid economic
At present, China is the fifth largest oil producer and the
second largest oil consumer in the world.
Last year, the nation's marine transportation volume for oil
products reached 431 million tons and it is predicted that the
volume will continue to rise in the years to come.
With the increasing number of oil shipping vessels plying in
China, higher risks for marine environment pollution, especially
oil spills, are predicted.
From 1973 to 2006, a total of 2,635 oil spill accidents occurred
in China, including 69 serious ones, each with a spilling volume of
more than 50 tons.
Under the coordination of
the China Maritime Safety Administration, emergency response teams
are engaged in an action to clean oil spill on the sea.
Marine environment pollution caused by oil spill accidents has
been a major cause of concern for the Chinese government. During
the past decades, the government has taken several measures to
tackle the problem.
China's vessel pollution control efforts began in the early
Since the implementation of the Marine Environment Protection
Law of the People's Republic of China in 1982, a series of rules
and regulations have been enacted in this field, offering a sound
legal basis for marine environment protection.
China Maritime Safety Administration has played an important
role in establishing a management mechanism for pollution control
and prevention, improving anti-pollution rules and regulations,
establishing an emergency mechanism and implementing the
international conventions that the nation has signed.
China MSA has set up 14 local MSAs in the areas along the coast
and the country's major navigable rivers.
China has joined most of the international maritime conventions,
among which the most important is the International Convention for
the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as Modified by the
Protocol of 1978 (MARPOL 73/78).
On behalf of the Chinese government, the China MSA has actively
participated in the drafting and revision of international
conventions in the framework of IMO.
This year, China MSA has signed a memorandum of understanding
with the IMO and International Petroleum Industry Environmental
Conservation Association (IPIECA) to improve its emergency response
ability against oil spills and effectively protect marine and
coastal resources under the risk of oil spill.
It has also participated in the Western Pacific Action Plan by
signing agreements on oil spill prevention with its counterparts in
Japan, Russia and the Republic of Korean. Under the action plan,
the China MSA is now planning a joint oil spill emergency response
drill with its overseas partners, in Qingdao in Shandong in
In addition, China MSA has drafted a series of regulations to
establish a coordination mechanism to tackle oil spill accidents
occurring within the territory of China.
The national laws and rules, along with international
conventions, have jointly formed a legislative basis for China's
vessel-related marine environment management.
These efforts demonstrate the Chinese government's commitment
and contribution to the protection of the global marine
Other efforts made by the national and local MSAs in marine
environment protection include enhancing investment in related
facilities, launching training and drills targeting oil spills, and
proposing an oil pollution compensation mechanism.
In recent years, the national and local MSAs have strengthened
investment in the construction of infrastructure facilities,
including a nationwide information system.
To date, 73 automatic identification system (AIS) stations have
been built, aiming to form a wide-ranged AIS network to cover the
country's near seas.
The MSAs have also upgraded the navigation marks in the nation's
seaports and near sea areas to ensure the safety of vessels.
A CCTV (closed-circuit TV) network has also been established for
the country's key sea navigation areas, such as the Yangtze River
Estuary, the Zhoushan Isle area and the Pearl River Estuary.
Since China MSA opened the first training session for
international oil pollution emergency response in 1982, China's
MSAs have launched training relating to prevention of pollution
from ships each year in the country's major seaport areas.
International organizations like IMO have also cooperated in some
of the training programs. In addition, the national MSA has sent
several delegations to receive training in North America, Europe,
Japan and Singapore.
China MSA has organized five large-scale marine rescue and oil
spill emergency response drills in the sea areas near Shenzhen,
Shanghai, Qingdao and Hainan in the past decades. These drills have
helped the nation train a strong force in marine rescue and oil
The most recent large-scale drill targeting oil spill emergency
response was carried out in the Bohai Bay area near Qinhuangdao in
Hebei Province. Employing the latest oil spill
identifying, monitoring and cleaning equipment, as well as 24
vessels and two helicopters, the drill displayed the nation's
latest technologies and strong capacity in tackling oil spill
During the second session of the Shanghai International Maritime
Forum held in 2005, China proposed a plan to establish an oil spill
compensation mechanism. At present, China MSA is cooperating with
related institutions to draft the detailed regulations in this
Under the mechanism, all ships plying the nation's seawaters are
expected to buy insurance and set up a fund to contribute to the
huge amount needed to clean oil leaks. Also, major oil wharfs will
be required to have facilities to deal with oil spill
(China Daily November 7, 2007)