|China adopts first law on deep seafloor exploration|
China's top legislature on Friday passed the country's first law on deep seafloor resource exploration to protect the maritime environment and ensure sustainable exploitation.
The government encourages and supports international cooperation on the exploration, exploitation and surveys of deep seafloor resources, in addition to boosting joint efforts on environmental protection, scientific research and educational training, according to the legislation.
Exploration and development should be peaceful and cooperative, in addition to protecting the maritime environment and safeguarding the common interests of mankind, it stipulates.
Potential deep seabed prospectors must submit their plans to the Chinese maritime watchdog, including environmental impact assessments. Only after the regulator approves the plan can application be made to the International Seabed Authority.
The legislation, which will come into force on May 1, also mandates the government to formulate plans and promote the research and surveys of resources.
China is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which states that international seabeds and their resources are the common property of mankind.
PROTECTING MARITIME ENVIRONMENT
Deep sea project contractors must have an emergency response mechanism and report immediately to authorities when encountering emergencies. They should take every feasible measure to reduce harm to people and the environment.
If the maritime environment is polluted due to their activities, the contractors can be fined up to one million yuan (153,000 U.S. dollars).
Contractors are also required to take measures to preserve the maritime ecosystem and biodiversity.
The law endows deep sea contractors with exclusive rights to explore and develop certain resources, mandating that they should protect any relics or objects found during exploration.
The legislation also includes articles that regulate deep sea surveys by individuals and organizations, requiring them to submit supporting documents and samples found for public record.
BOOSTING DEEP SEA TECHNOLOGY
China has made remarkable achievements in deep sea exploration technology.
Its deep sea manned submersible, Jiaolong, concluded a 120-day expedition in the southwest Indian Ocean in March, collecting data and samples of hydrothermal fluid and data on deep sea biodiversity. Jiaolong reached a depth of 7,062 meters in 2012.
However, China's deep sea technology research and exploration leaves a lot to be desired, compared with developed nations, Sun Shuxian, deputy head of the State Oceanic Administration, said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.
The law mandates the government prioritize the development of deep sea technology. Enterprises involved in deep sea technology research and deep sea equipment will be supported, and exchanges, cooperation and sharing encouraged.
Sun said the legislation showed commitment to the UN convention and the nation's responsible role in deep seafloor exploration.