II. Rational Development and Utilization of Marine Resources
In the light of the bearing capacity of marine resources, China adopts a policy of developing and utilizing them in a comprehensive way, so as to promote the coordinated development of the marine industries. In recent years China has made constant efforts to upgrade the maritime fishing, transportation, salt-making and other traditional industries. At the same time, it has spared no effort to develop the industry of marine reproduction and mariculture, offshore oil and gas, tourism, marine pharmaceuticals and other burgeoning industries. It has actively explored new marine resources as far as possible, and promoted the formation and development of some potential marine industries, such as deep-water mining, comprehensive utilization of seawater, and power generation with marine energy. In 1997 the total output value of the major marine industries, including ocean fishing, salt-making, the salt chemicals industry, marine transportation, shipbuilding, offshore oil and gas, and tourism, topped 300 billion yuan. As a result, these industries have become forces actively promoting the development of China's economy as a whole.
China's ocean fishing industry has a long history steeped in experience. In developing this sector, the country adheres to the principle of ``speeding up the development of aquaculture, conserving and rationally utilizing offshore resources, actively expanding deep-sea fishing, emphasizing processing and circulation, and strengthening legal administration.'' Since the mid-1980s, China's saltwater aquaculture has developed rapidly, with a large increase in species and expansion of breeding areas. The output of such products rose from 1.926 million tons in 1987 to 7.91 million tons in 1997, with their proportion in the total output of the maritime harvest rising from 27 percent to 36 percent. In accordance with the actual conditions of marine fisheries resources, China has actively readjusted the structure of this sector, made efforts to conserve and rationally utilize off-shore fisheries resources, and actively exploited new resources and fishing grounds, so as to make the fishing industry constantly adapt to the changes in the structure of marine resources. In 1997 the total output of China's ocean fishing industry came to 13.854 million tons. While expanding deep-sea fishing and international fishing cooperation, China adheres strictly to relevant international maritime laws, pays full attention to protection of the eco-environment and, in the light of the principle of ``equality, mutual benefit, rational development of the exploitable resources, and abstention from infringement on the interests of other countries,'' actively develops fishing cooperation with relevant countries and regions, in order to jointly expand the fishing economy. Since the 1980s, China has established cooperative fishing relations with more than 30 countries and regions.
China attaches great importance to the protection of marine fisheries resources, and has adopted various measures to conserve such resources so as to guarantee the implementation of a sustainable marine development strategy. It has done this by instituting various closed fishing seasons, closed fishing areas, marine sanctuaries and moratorium systems, banning harmful fishing gear and methods, and restricting the size of net meshes and the proportion of young fish. In 1979 China began to adopt a fishing permit system to curb reckless fishing, and in 1987 the country began to control fishing boats' horsepower. Since 1995 China has practiced a new midsummer moratorium system--every year during July and August fishing is banned in the sea areas north of 27 degrees north latitude. The new system has achieved encouraging economic, ecological and social results, and from this year the midsummer moratorium area will be expanded to 26 degrees north latitude and its duration will be lengthened to three months. China attaches great importance to the marine reproduction and the reproduction of fisheries resources, and has always insisted on the marine reproduction and releasing of prawns and other species, a measure which has achieved positive results.
As far back as in the 1960s China began to explore and exploit offshore oil and gas resources on its own. In the 1980s it started to absorb foreign capital and technology to develop this industry in cooperation with foreign companies. In exploiting offshore oil and natural gas, China follows the policy of placing equal stress on oil and gas, with the balance inclined slightly toward gas, combining domestic exploration and exploitation with cooperation with foreign companies, and integrating upstream and downstream. As a result, great progress has been made. By the end of 1997 China had signed 131 contracts and agreements with 67 oil companies from 18 countries and regions and imported a total capital of close to six billion US dollars for this industry. At the same time, more than 100 structures with oil and gas had been discovered, and 1.7 billion tons of oil reserves and 350 billion cu m of natural gas had been found. Twenty oil and gas fields are under development. With an offshore oil and natural gas industry in place, in 1997 China's offshore oil output exceeded 16.29 million tons, and its natural gas output stood at four billion cu m.
China has worked out a policy of utilizing its deep-sea waters and coastal resources in a rational way. According to the policy, priority shall be given to the construction of harbors in deepwater coastal areas, and vigorous efforts will be made to develop marine transportation. Significant achievements have been attained in marine transportation development since the founding of New China, especially since the implementation of reform and opening to the outside world. By the end of 1997, merchant ships had increased to 320,000 with a total deadweight tonnage of close to 50 million, of which more than 23 million were of the fleets in foreign trade transportation. Harbor construction and marine transportation in China are based on the planning concept of constructing major waterways, harbor hubs and water transport support system. China will put special efforts into the construction of specialized berths for bulk goods such as containers, coal, oil, ore and grain, set up collection and distribution channels in the rear, speed up the establishment of a modern loading-unloading-hauling system, and construct a container transport system with advanced freight-handling technologies and featuring a combination of trunk lines with branch lines while strengthening the technical transformation of old harbors to improve their handling capacity and efficiency. At present, China has 15 harbors each with an annual handling capacity of more than 10 million tons. In 1997 the volume of freight handled by the country's major coastal harbors totaled 905 million tons. In recent years China's coastal shipbuilding industry has shown a trend of rapid development, and in 1997 China's shipbuilding tonnage ranked third in the world.
China's marine tourism development policy features relying on the coastal cities, stressing marine characteristics, and developing it region by region and sector by sector. In recent years, the coastal areas have created more than 300 marine and island tourism and recreational zones, with a variety of marine features. Marine tourism is now a burgeoning industry. In 1997 this sector received more than 10 million overseas tourists.
China was one of the world's pioneers in making salt from seawater. Some of China's new industries are associated with this aspect of marine resources development and exploitation: salt, salt chemicals, direct seawater utilization and seawater desalination. With an area of 430,000 ha, China's salt pans produced 29.281 million tons of raw salt in 1997. The major salt chemical products are potassium chloride, bromide, anhydrous nitre and magnesium chloride. The annual output of potassium chloride and bromide each exceeds 500,000 tons. In addition, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Yantai, Qinhuangdao and other coastal cities are now making efforts to use more seawater directly as industrial chilled water and non-potable water, which is of great significance for alleviating China's serious shortage of freshwater resources.
The Chinese government has listed the exploration and exploitation of the mineral resources of the Pacific Ocean as a long-term development project for which it intends to offer special investment. Meanwhile, it has established a special institution in charge of coordinating and administering China's exploratory and exploitative activities in the international seabed region. China is the fifth-largest investor in international efforts for seabed development, and has obtained an exclusive exploration and development area of 75,000 sq km. In the future, China will continue to actively participate in the administration and development of international seabed areas, and develop new exploration and exploitation technologies to make its due contribution to the peaceful utilization of international seabed resources for the benefit of the whole of mankind.