Draft law tough­ens fines for mar­itime pol­lu­tion

NPC con­sid­ers amend­ment that elim­i­nates the ceil­ing on fines, re­quires eco­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ment

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By CAO YIN and ZHENG JINRAN Con­tact the writ­ers at zhengjin­ran@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China is con­sid­er­ing im­pos­ing harsher penal­ties on mar­itime pol­luters and re­mov­ing the up­per limit of fines in a move to more ef­fec­tively pro­tect the ma­rine en­vi­ron­ment.

In a draft amend­ment to the Ma­rine En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Law, sub­mit­ted on Mon­day to the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress for first read­ing, the puni­tive cap of 300,000 yuan ($44,800) in fines would be elim­i­nated.

In­stead, mar­itime pol­luters would face fines of up to 20 to 30 per­cent of di­rect losses caused by their pol­lu­tion.

The amend­ment also adds pro­vi­sions deal­ing with­ma­rine eco­log­i­cal com­pen­sa­tion, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from the NPC En­vi­ron­ment and Re­sources Pro­tec­tion Com­mit­tee. The ex­ist­ing law has been in ef­fect since Jan­uary last year,

Zhao Jing­wei, a lawyer rep­re­sent­ing fish­er­men dam­aged by an oil leak in Bo­hai Bay in June 2011, wel­comed the heav­ier penalty be­cause “it will be a great threat for po­ten­tial pol­luters”.

En­ergy gi­ant Cono­coPhillips said in Jan­uary 2012 that it would pay 1 bil­lion yuan to set­tle all claims aris­ing from the oil leaks from its Penglai 19-3 oil­field in Bo­hai Bay.

Sim­i­lar ma­rine pol­lu­tion has been com­mon over the past few years, “and the ef­fect brought by them has some­times been very harm­ful to peo­ple and the en­vi­ron­ment,” saidWang Zhenyu, an en­vi­ron­men­tal lawyer.

But Wang said that in­creas­ing penal­ties is not enough by it­self, and the most im­por­tant thing in pro­tect­ing the ma­rine en­vi­ron­ment is pre­ven­tion.

“What I care most about is how law en­forcers deal with the fines and how to make sure the pun­ish­ment process is trans­par­ent,” he said.

In ad­di­tion to more se­vere pun­ish­ments, the amended law also sets a bot­tom line for ma­rine de­vel­op­ers, re­quir­ing them to make eco­log­i­cal pro­tec­tion a pri­or­ity.

“As to the min­ing of ma­rine re­sources, we should make a rea­son­able de­vel­op­ment lay­out in line with func­tional ocean di­vi­sions to strictly pro­tect key ma­rine eco­log­i­cal ar­eas and vul­ner­a­ble re­gions ,” said Min­is­ter of Land and Re­sources Jiang Dam­ing.

The draft amend­ment would im­pose re­stric­tions on de­vel­op­ment in sea ar­eas that have not met the tar­get for en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion or whose ma­jor pol­lu­tant dis­charge has ex­ceeded stan­dards, Jiang said.

The Ma­rine En­vi­ron­ment Pro­tec­tion Law was en­acted in 1982 and com­pre­hen­sively re­vised in 1999.

of di­rect losses caused by pol­lu­tion could be charged in fines, with no ceil­ing.

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