Increased shipping, spurred by the country’s expanding economy, is creating unprecedented levels of pollution, a situation China’s Maritime Safety Administration (MSA) is working to remedy.
Speaking yesterday, Liu Gongchen, deputy director-general of MSA, said his administration is working to establish a compensation regime for oil pollution from ships to guarantee financial support for cleanup operations and compensation for the victims of oil leaks.
"While promoting compulsory insurance against oil pollution from ships, the administration plans to set up a fund by levying a charge on ship owners and cargo consignors as they should take responsibility for oil pollution and compensating the victims of oil spills," Liu said in a keynote speech at the International Maritime Forum in Shanghai, which closes today.
He said the oil pollution fund is to be set up as soon as the draft of the legal document is put forward for approval by the State Council.
The risk of oil pollution in the nation’s sea areas is increasing as the shipping economy expands. However, at the moment, the economic burden of dealing with oil spills always falls on the government.
Statistics from the Ministry of Communications indicate that cargo transported by sea reached around 1.8 billion tons last year, and the throughput in ports across the country amounted to 4.17 billion tons including 61.8 million TEUs, one-eighth of the world’s total containers.
At least 90 per cent of the nation’s imported crude oil is transported by sea, with the figure last year reaching up to 110 million tons, statistics show.
Coupled with the surge in marine transport is a growth in the number of oil spills. Between 1973 and 2003, more than 2,350 oil spills occurred along the nation’s coast one spill every 4.6 days.