China to reclaim more land

By Xiao Sun (China Daily)
Updated: 2007-01-11 07:06

The annual land reclamation of the country is expected to reach 500-700 square kilometers in the next five years, thanks to the fast growing economy and the dearth of developable land on the coasts.

The deputy director of Sea Area Management Department of the State Ocean Administration (SOA), A Dong, said yesterday that the reclaimed land would be used as fisheries, seafood farms, and for tourism and transportation.

At present, China reclaims about 300 square kilometers of land every year.

And despite the increase in reclamation, the SOA would see to it that the seas are not over-exploited. Land reclaimation can harm the marine environment, A Dong said.

In fact, the SOA has asked experts to study whether rapid reclamation could result in serious damage to the environment, especially marine ecology.

He said the law had played an important role in keeping rampant reclamation under check, and would continue to do so in the future, too.

The deputy director of SOA's Sea Area Management Department, Lu Caixia, said: "Earlier, many cases of unnecessary reclamation used to be reported, and the interests of fishermen could not be safeguarded."

But the law gave the fishermen the right to seek compensation if their designated areas were occupied by tourism, transportation or other big projects.

"So the fishermen and others dependent on the sea for their livelihood are now willing to pay some fees. In some places, the right to use a certain area of the sea has even been allocated through bidding," Lu said.

In Guangdong Province, which is rich in sea resources, the right to use of 0.06 hectare of sea fetched up to 20,000 yuan ($2,500) last year.

In 2006, SOA collected more than 1.5 billion yuan ($188 million) as fee to use the sea, 500 million yuan ($63 million) more than the previous year.

(China Daily 01/11/2007 page3)

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