CHINA / National

China ratifies convention on marine pollution
Updated: 2006-06-30 08:51

China's top legislature ratified an international convention on Thursday to step up the protection of the marine environment in China by banning the dumping of waste in the ocean.

The National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee's ratification of the 1996 Protocol on the Convention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Waste and Other Matter concurs with the building of an environmentally friendly society proposed by the country's 11th Five-Year Program (2006-2010), said Sun Zhihui, director of China's State Oceanic Administration (SOA).

It also indicates China's resolution to manage the dumping of waste into the ocean and presents an image of responsibility to the international community regarding marine environment protection, he said.

The objective of the protocol is to protect and preserve the marine environment from all sources of pollution.

China will further amend its marine dumping regulations including the Regulations of the People's Republic of China on Control over Dumping of Waste in the Ocean as soon as the protocol takes effect. China will also improve its technical standards of marine dumping management, Sun said.

Dumping waste into the ocean has attracted global concern in the latter half of the 20th century. In 1972, the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Waste and Other Matter, generally known as the London Convention, was passed and came into force in 1975.

The 1996 Protocol is intended to replace the 1972 Convention as it is much more restrictive. It has introduced what is known as the "precautionary approach", which requires "appropriate preventative measures to be taken when there is reason to believe that waste or other matter introduced into the marine environment are likely to cause harm even when there is no conclusive evidence that they will."

It has also listed seven wastes or other matter which are not considered dumping, including dredged material, sewage sludge, fish waste, vessels and platforms, inert, organic material of natural origin and bulky items primarily comprising iron, steel, concrete and similarly unharmful materials.

China has a large volume of dredged materials, and the need for dumping vessels and platforms has been increasing in recent years, said Chen Yue, deputy director of the international cooperation department under the SOA.

For the remaining five wastes or other matter, China disposes of them through comprehensive utilization and recycling on the land, Chen said.

Statistics from the administration shows that by 2005, China had 98 dumping sites and the major dumping wastes were dredged materials. The SOA carried out surveys on 24 dumping sites and their surroundings last year.

The survey shows that the benthic environment of most dumping sites are quite stable and the benthic diversity is not significantly affected by the dumping, while some dumping sites show unusual benthic environment and the benthic diversity is obviously decreasing.