China has clamped strict controls on the scale of sea reclamation, a move experts said was aimed at containing unbridled commercial development. China’s State Oceanic Administration (SOA) yesterday set eight indexes on sea development, including the rate of sea utilisation, rate of coastal utilisation, investment intensity and ratio of sea reclamation. Any application that does not conform to the requirement of the eight indexes will be sent back for re-examination the SOA said in a statement.
It said the restrictions are aimed to improve the efficiency of sea utilisation, achieve sustainable development with the minimum use of oceanic space and promote the intensive exploitation of coastal resources. As the cost for sea utilisation is far lower than land utilisation, Chinese companies have developed a craze for investment on sea reclamation, driven by huge profits. The SOA’s move is aimed at containing reclamation and better-managing sea resources, Wang Yamin, a professor with the School of Oceanography at Shandong University, told the Global Times.
“Over-reclamation will harm coastal ecosystem and cause a decline in oceanic species. In some places, it may lead to a siltation of channel at ports,” Wang said. Some local governments may collude with enterprises for commercial gains. Whether the SOA’s rule can be effective in curbing reclamation depends on the relationship between local governments and enterprises and their choices in seeking a balance between development and environmental protection, Wang said.