The State Oceanic Administration has published a set of guidelines on inspections by maritime authorities aimed at improving the management of the country’s marine resources.
The Sea Inspection Plan, which has been approved by the central government, stipulates that the administration will send inspectors to check the protection and development of marine resources by provincial governments.
Inspections will cover the management and development of seas and islands, disaster prevention and relief, and countermeasures to tackle pollution, illegal development and environmental degradation.
Provincial authorities will rectify problems found by inspectors and report them to the public.
Failure to address problems will lead to restricted use of marine resources, while cases involving the violation of internal disciplines and laws will be handed over to disciplinary watchdogs or law enforcement departments.
The administration will soon establish an inspection commission, and its three local branches that oversee affairs in the Bohai Sea, the East China Sea and the South China Sea will set up inspection teams, Fang Jianmeng, deputy director of the administration, told a news conference on Jan 22.
Inspectors will focus on provincial authorities’ implementation of policies and plans made by the central government, he said.
Fang added that inspectors will check the 11 provincial-level regions of the Chinese mainland that have coastlines, including Liaoning, Shandong and Shanghai, on a regular basis.
Gao Zhongwen, the administration’s spokesman, said that opinions and suggestions were solicited from the 11 regions and seven central departments, such as the Environmental Protection Ministry, before the guidelines were established.
According to Gu Wu, deputy head of the oceanic administration’s legislation and island management department, members of the public are encouraged to supervise inspectors and local authorities, and may give tipoffs to inspectors.
An expert at the Ocean University of China in Qingdao, Shandong province, who asked not to be named, said that with the rapid development of coastal areas, some regions placing a high priority on economic growth driven by the exploitation of marine resources have unknowingly or intentionally neglected protection.
“Therefore, the introduction of a high-level inspection mechanism will help extensively with environmental protection and restoration, and crack down on irregular or illegal exploitation,” he said.