Chinese Agency Announces International Cooperation Program to Preserve Marine Environment

February 18, 2005

The State Oceanic Administration (SOA) has begun a program in cooperation with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility to preserve the marine environment of China’s coastal areas, according to articles in Xinhua and a the China Daily. The program will have a particular focus on coral reefs and mangroves, which help protect coastal areas from damage from natural disasters and have deteriorated significantly due to pollution and development. (A January article in Xinhua reports on this aspect in more detail.)

The SOA program announcements in part were a response to fears of the potential effects of a tsunami, after an earthquake-induced tsunami caused catastrophic damage in South and Southeast Asia in December 2004. To decrease the severity of such damage, the China Daily reports in this article, the SOA and other government departments have submitted plans to the State Council to improve ocean disaster early warning systems. The program announcements also respond to the January release of the SOA 2004 reports on marine disasters, and the condition of China’s marine environment. Natural disasters, red tides, and oil spills cost China 140 lives and 5.4 billion yuan in economic losses in 2004, according to the SOA and news media reports (Xinhua, Sina, China Daily).