“Action Plan for the Comprehensive Management of Key Marine Areas” released


On 17 February, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and the China Marine Police Bureau jointly issued the “Action Plan for the Comprehensive Management of Key Marine Areas” (hereinafter referred to as the “Action Plan”). The Action Plan sets out the general requirements, main objectives, key tasks and safeguard measures for the comprehensive management of the three key marine areas, namely the Bohai Sea, the Yangtze River Estuary-Hangzhou Bay and the adjacent waters of the Pearl River Estuary, involving Tianjin, Shanghai and other “2+24” coastal cities during the 14th Five-Year Plan period.

The action plan identifies four main tasks:
1. Prevention and control of land and sea pollution;
2. Ecological protection and restoration;
3. prevention of environmental risks;
4. Building a beautiful bay.

The action plan includes eight specific measures:
1. Investigate and remediate discharges to the sea;
2. Improving the water quality of rivers that flow into the sea;
3. Combating pollution from coastal cities;
4. Combating pollution from coastal agriculture and rural areas;
5. Environmental protection in mariculture;
6. Prevention of pollution from ships and ports;
7. Coastal environmental protection;
8. Protection and restoration of the marine environment.

The Action Plan calls for an increase in the proportion of good water quality (Class I and II) in the three main marine areas by about 2 percentage points by 2025 compared to 2020, steady progress in the investigation and remediation of discharges to the sea, substantial elimination of the poor V category of major river discharges to the sea, effective protection of coastal wetlands and shorelines, significant improvement in marine environmental risk prevention and emergency response capabilities, and a number of beautiful bays with national model value. The Action Plan also indicates that control of total nitrogen emissions from stationary sources in coastal cities, monitoring and enforcement will be strengthened to fully implement ‘one permit’ emission permit management. By 2025, centralised collection of domestic wastewaters in coastal cities is to exceed 70 percent and wastewater treatment in district cities is to exceed 95 percent.

The action plan requires all relevant departments and coastal areas to strengthen organisational leadership and monitoring and evaluation, implement the overall requirement of “central coordination, provincial responsibility and implementation in cities and counties”, establish a mechanism for monitoring and support and monitoring and evaluation, strengthen scientific and technological support, increase financial security, effectively strengthen information disclosure and public participation, and promote the formation of synergies among all parties to lead the struggle for comprehensive management of key water bodies.