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Balance seen as vital for 'blue economy'

Updated: 2014-08-28 07:00
By Hao Nan and Wang Qian (China Daily)

The marine or blue economy is increasingly considered a good place to boost a country's sustainable development because of the huge economic and social potential of the seas, China's ocean watchdog said.

Against that backdrop, the third Blue Economy Forum was held on Monday in Xiamen, Fujian province, as a key part of the APEC Ocean-related Ministerial Meeting.

Chen Lianzeng, deputy director of the State Oceanic Administration, said in an address at the opening ceremony that the blue economy, as an emerging development concept, has become a hot topic among APEC economies.

The concept means balancing environmental protection and economic growth, ensuring harmony between mankind and nature, he said. It also promotes development and cooperation and takes into account the needs and concerns of all parties.

The forum was designed to enhance the knowledge of participants and lead to practical cooperation.

The event - themed "Public-private dialogue: Promoting the blue economy" - attracted more than 150 delegates from 13 APEC economies.

Zhang Zhanhai, director of the strategic planning and economy department under the State Oceanic Administration, highlighted China's progress and its policy support for maritime development.

China's blue economy is "a breakthrough of the traditional ocean economy", as it focuses on the integration of ocean and land with a view toward sustainable development and coordination of the ocean's economic, social and ecological aspects, Zhang said.

China has witnessed consistent growth in ocean-related industries, he added.

In 2009, the country initiated a pilot marine economy project to explore scientific development of the maritime economy. It also implemented a series of laws and plans, including the Island Protection Act, to better safeguard the marine environment.

To date, 90 marine protected areas have been established in the country.

Lei Bo, director of the administration's science and technology department, cited three principles for developing marine science and technology: addressing major national needs, responding to demand for the development of the marine economy and following global trends in science and technology.

The essence is to "develop innovation capability", he said.

"The key is to make breakthroughs in the deep-sea, green and safe marine high-tech fields," he added.

Through a series of key projects - for example, the national survey of the marine resources and environment in near-shore areas - and with support from National Marine Renewable Energy Special Funds, "we will lay a solid foundation for our country to become a maritime power", he said.

Steven Katona, a senior officer at Conservation International, introduced the Ocean Health Index, which he described as a tool for balancing the needs of people with the conservation of marine life.

It provides a series of goals that people share - food, products, subsistence fishing, tourism, carbon storage, protection of coastal areas from storms, jobs and intangible benefits, he said.

Contact the writer at haonan@chinadaily.com.cn

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