Research Handbooks in Environmental Law series
Edited by Qin Tianbao
Chapter 10: Ocean and freshwater resources conservation law
Ocean and fresh water resources are vital to China’s development. After the adoption of open door policy in 1978, the Chinese economy grew extremely fast, however, the cost of this economic growth was paid in the deterioration of natural resources. The first part of this chapter provides an overview of Chinese legislation on ocean conservation. The ocean plays a significant role for mankind and China must, therefore, deal with ocean conservation. To meet its obligations China ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1996 and has also established a legal regime for ocean conservation. This includes a Marine Environmental Protection Law, an Islands Protection Law, a Sea Areas Use Management Law, a Fisheries Law, a Protection of Wildlife Law and subordinate regulations and rules (such as the Regulation on Management of the Foreign-related Marine Scientific Research). Freshwater is one of the basic conditions for the survival of human beings and for the health of the planet. The demand for water has increased worldwide either for drinking water or for other purposes associated with modern living standards. However, the distribution of fresh water resources is not even: in some regions there may be excessive water, in other areas there may be a shortage. Moreover, human activities may have direct or indirect effects on the quality of water supply. Therefore, to ensure that the fresh water resources are used and developed in a sustainable way is a challenge for government and local community. The role performed by law is critical. A sound and well-balanced freshwater resources law should be viewed within the contemporary context. In many cases, existing legislation to manage and conserve the supply of fresh water has come down from the past when the resource was considered to be inexhaustible. Nowadays, the philosophies of sustainable development, rational use of resources and environmental protection have outdated old water resources legislation in many countries. This is the same case for China.
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