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Authority clamps down on pollution

China Daily

China's ocean watchdog vowed to ban offshore projects that cause marine pollution in order to protect the country's fragile marine environment, an official said on Thursday.

"With increasing stretches of the country's coastal waters severely polluted, urgent measures are required to control offshore activities, especially offshore projects," Xu Guodong, deputy director of the environmental protection department of the State Oceanic Administration, told China Daily on Thursday.

He said developers of offshore projects must hand in a marine environment influence report, which must illustrate effective measures to purify pollutants before discharging them into the sea.

"If the report doesn't pass the SOA evaluation, the project will be banned," Xu said.

For land reclamation projects, the report must cover the intended future land use and effective measures to avoid marine pollution.

According to the12th Five-Year plan(2011-15) on the country's marine development released by the SOA on Thursday, China will reduce its severely polluted sea area by 10 percent from the 48,000 sq km recorded in 2010.

The country's severely polluted sea area increased to 68,000 sq km last year, according to the country's 2012 marine environment report.

As the marine economy booms across the country, the target will be a great challenge, according to Xu.

He said the administration is establishing stricter supervision measures.

"For the areas where marine pollution increases, we plan to control or suspend offshore projects until the pollution amount decreases," Xu said.

Guan Daoming, director of the National Marine Environmental Monitoring Center, said controlling pollution discharges will effectively alleviate marine pollution.

According to the SOA marine environment report, more than 17 million tons of pollutants from 72 monitored rivers flowed into the sea last year, including 46,000 tons of heavy metals and 93,000 tons of oil.

In Bohai Bay, factories and construction projects take up more than 80 percent of the shoreline.

An SOA official who refused to be named said the marine environment in Bohai "couldn't be worse".

SOA had already set up a system to strictly control the effect of human activities and curb land reclamation and marine pollution on Bohai Bay after 6,200 sq km of the bay was polluted by a severe oil leak in June 2011.

China has about 3 million sq km of offshore marine area and 32,000 km of coastline.