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Nationwide campaign against sea misuse
By Tang Min (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-23 00:52

The first-ever, large-scale campaign against misuse of the sea, implemented last year by State marine surveillance authorities, officially wrapped up Monday.

Statistics with the State Oceanic Administration indicate 7,348 cases were investigated last year, up 125 per cent year-on-year, of which 934 resulted in administrative punishment.

The campaign brought home to many people that China will carefully guard against wrongful exploitation of the ocean and punish those who defy regulations and the law, Li Hang, a surveillance official said Monday.

For instance, in the category of illegal reclamation of land from the ocean, which has become a key issue in the country's marine environmental protection plans, an unprecedented 6.8 million yuan (US$821,000) has been levied in fines.

In the past, marine authorities would in most cases only "kindly'' suggest those not having lawfully used the sea to correct their problems, instead of using the punishments doled out now, Li indicated.

Last year's national campaign is but a start of the country's stepped-up efforts to ensure better regulated sea use.

Li said the government will be eventually capable of putting an end to problems.

"On one hand, we are equipped with the legal weapon of the Law on Sea Use Management, adopted on January 1, 2002; on the other hand, after five years' of effort, over 80 per cent of the cities and counties have established their own marine surveillance forces,'' he said.

The headquarters of the China Marine Surveillance was set up under the State Oceanic Administration in July, 1999, but the establishment of its local teams did not start until year 2001 and was not put on a fast track until the adoption of the Law on Sea Use Management.

Although the Law on Sea Use Management has stipulated use of the sea can only take place with licenses, and with payments according to related governmental programmes, it takes time to make the practice a spontaneous practice of the people who are to using seas for free and as their own private property.

Correspondingly, while large-scale sea use projects, such as marine oil exploitation and harbour construction, have largely abided by the law, unlawful actions have been taking place from time to time.

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