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Experts call for environmental protection for Bohai Sea after oil spills

(Xinhua)

08:49, October 14, 2011

BEIJING, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- Chinese maritime experts on Thursday called for enhanced environmental protection for north China's Bohai Sea, after it was polluted by oil spills earlier this year.

Speaking at a symposium concerning maritime environmental accidents and ecological safety, Xiao Hanqiang, a former official with China's Ministry of Land and Resources, called for a dedicated committee to regulate the resources exploitation and environmental protection in this area.

Xiao said Bohai Sea has the most fragile ecological system in China's coastal waters, however, the pressure on environment is still on the rise due to development of the maritime economy.

More than 5,500 square km of water in the 78,000-square km Bohai Sea has been polluted since June, as oil spilled at a platform, causing the country's worst offshore maritime pollution.

The platform belongs to ConocoPhillips China, a subsidiary of the U.S. energy giant. The oil spills affected neighboring Hebei and Liaoning provinces, and was blamed for losses in the provinces' tourism and aquatic farming industries.

The spills are now under control, yet two or three liters of oil still leak into the sea on a daily basis.

Experts at the symposium said the oil spills reflect the problems in China's maritime administration system, as well as incomplete laws and regulations concerning maritime eco-system protection.

"Environmental protection should come first before resources exploitation," said Professor Cao Mingde from China University of Politics and Law.

Experts also called for an emergency response mechanism to tackle the environmental accidents.

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