China revises law on marine environment protection

A new draft revision of the Marine Environment Protection Law calls for strengthening the control of land-based pollution. 

Wang Hongyao, of the environment and resource protection committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), said the current law has played an important role but urgently needs to be revised and improved as the construction of ecological civilisation accelerates. 

The law, which was passed in 1982, has so far been revised four times, in 1999, 2013, 2016 and 2017, Wang said. 

The latest draft revision was submitted to China’s top legislature, the Standing Committee of the NPC, for a first reading on 27 December 2022.

According to Xinhua News, land discharge is one of the most important causes of marine pollution. The revised draft focuses on controlling discharge of sewage and other pollutants into the sea. In line with the Law on the Prevention and Control of Environmental Pollution by Solid Waste, it calls for strictly controlling solid waste on the beach. 

Biodiversity protection is another focus area. The revised draft would improve the system through which compensation is paid for ecological damage, increase transfer payments to Marine Protected Areas, and add regulations on protecting important ecosystems, species and genetic resources. 

In addition, it merges two chapters to unify the environmental requirements of coastal and marine construction projects. It clarifies that both should avoid or reduce impacts on marine life and adds provisions that construction projects must not cause erosion, siltation or damage to the basepoints from which China measures its territorial waters.

Finally, the draft optimises the marine environment monitoring and supervision system. Based on the monitoring and supervision network, it adds regulations on conducting assessments of marine environment quality and marine resources.

The full text has been published to solicit opinions from the public. 

Read China Dialogue’s earlier reports on the ocean in the 14th Five Year Plan and on ecological compensation for forest damage.