BY APB Staff on 4 Jan 2023

China says the current version of the law doesn't go far enough

Sanya, China

Sanya, China

Chinese lawmakers are reportedly considering an update to the country’s marine environment protection law, designed to keep improving the country’s marine environment.

News outlet Xinhua reports that the draft revision was submitted on December 27 to the ongoing session of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) for a first reading. The NPC is the top legislature in China.

The marine environment protection law was originally adopted in 1982 and has been amended three times since. Wang Hongyao, an official with the NPC’s environment and resource protection committee, told Xinhua that the law has played a “vital role in protecting China’s marine environment.”

Wang added that the current version of the law “no longer suits the new situation and needs revision.” He alludes to “insufficient pollution control efforts and unsound supervision and management systems.”

While overall improvements are evident in the marine environment, with faster progress in China’s ecological conservation, the current version of the law no longer suits the new situation and needs revision, said Wang. Wang also pointed out insufficient pollution control efforts and unsound supervision and management systems.

下白泥, Ha Tsuen, Hong Kong SAR, China

The draft revision is said to “enhance overall planning and emphasise comprehensive management”. These aims will be borne out by improvements in ecological zoning, protection of marine life diversity, and integrated environmental protection of coastal and marine projects.

The updated legislation also seeks to strengthen regulation over offshore dumping, improve rules on controlling pollution concerning ships and related activities, and promote the development of green and low-carbon shipping.

China has an extensive network of protected marine habitats. A 2021 study by an international team of scientists found nearly 13 percent of China’s seas are protected by a network of MPAs (marine protected areas) and potential OECMs (other effective area-based conservation measures). Twenty-two percent of shallow habitats (less than 10 meters) were considered fully or highly protected and 20 percent of waters 10 to 50 meters deep were conserved, at least to some measure. However, less than 5 percent of China’s deep waters (greater than 50 meters deep), are currently protected.