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A Brief Introduction to National Marine Environmental Monitoring Center, State Oceanic Administration, People’s Republic of China

  China is a large marine country with around 3 million square kilometers of sea area under its claimed jurisdiction. As Chinese President Xi Jinping points out: The oceans are of strategic importance to high quality growth. The implementation of marine environmental monitoring and protection as well as a scientific and rational use of marine resources are the key to the construction of a marine power, the building of a harmonious relationship between people and the sea, and the creation of beautiful oceans.

  Dalian, a famous coastal city in northern China, is home to National Marine Environmental Monitoring Center, an agency of a history of 60 years, which is specialized in marine ecological environmental monitoring and protection.

Development Path and Current Capacity

  The National Marine Environmental Monitoring Center was established in April, 1959, formerly known as the Marine Research Institute under the Liaoning Branch of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, at its inception. In October, 1965, it was handed over to the State Oceanic Administration of China (abbreviated as SOA) in its entirety and was renamed as the Northeast Marine Workstation of SOA. In August, 1979, it was expanded to the Marine Environmental Protection Institute of the SOA. In October, 1989, it was renamed again as the National Marine Environmental Monitoring Center. In December, 2018, it was transferred to the Ministry of Ecology and Environment.

  Over the past 60 years, the Center has kept abreast with China’s needs for marine ecological environmental supervision and endeavored to build up its talent team and fundamental capacities. The Center currently owns 306 staff. Among them, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering was specially recruited; Four experts are entitled to special government allowances of the State Council; 46 staff possess senior technical titles and 115 associate senior technical titles. The Center maintains a series of advanced labs and field apparatus and equipment. It also runs a 500-ton ocean surveillance ship. Field workstations and experimental bases have been established in Bayuquan Harbor of Yingkou, Liaohe River estuary in Panjin, Yuandao Island of Dalian, among other places. Based on all above, its marine monitoring technology and capacity is close to or equivalent to the advanced level of its international peers. After more than 60 years of hard work, the center has grown from a simple marine workstation to a state-level professional center with clear functions, reasonable talent structure, comprehensive disciplines and first-class facilities.

   A key think tank to national marine environment and resource management

  Since its establishment, the Center has been engaged in the management support and decision-making services for marine ecological environment protection, and has undertaken technical support for marine ecological environment monitoring and evaluation, marine pollution prevention, marine ecosystem and biodiversity conservation, and marine ecological environment remediation and restoration. It also leads and participates in the compilation of comprehensive plans pertinent to all marine sectors, especially the “National Five Year Plan” of marine ecological environmental protection. The Center also participated in emergency response and damage assessment for the Dalian “7.16” oil spill accident, Bohai Penglai 19-3 Platform oil spill accident, Japan nuclear leakage accident, Tianjin Port “8.12” chemical explosion accident, “Sanchi oil tanker spill accident in the Eastern China Sea, among other events.  In recent years, the Center has been tasked with the development of national marine ecological civilization construction implementation programme and research on relevant policies and institutions , and the “13th Five-Year Plan” marine ecological environmental protection planning research as well, which provides support for the decision-making of marine ecological protection and construction, coastal water pollution prevention, marine disaster prevention and reduction, and response to climate change in China.

  In 1995, the Center set up the first technical research department for sea area management in China, that is the General Technical Station for National Sea Use Management. It conducted the first and second round of national marine functional zoning, developed national sea area classification and grading, sea use fee collection standard, and protection and utilization plan for coastlines and coastal zones,  carried out remediation and restoration of sea areas, islands and coastal zones, and routine monitoring of islands. All the above has effectively supported the national management on sea areas and islands, while in many aspects it has pioneered the management in this field.

An agency in charge of professional organizing and technical guidance for the  national marine ecological environment monitoring

  Since the 1990’s, the Center has shouldered the heavy tasks of professional organizing and technical guidance for the national marine ecological environment monitoring system. In recent years, the Center has fulfilled the work of building a national marine ecological environment supervision and management information system, organizing technical exchanges and trainings for national marine environmental monitoring institutions, undertaking the National Marine Environmental Monitoring Technology Competition Grand Prix, and implementing the whole process of quality control of marine ecological environment monitoring, to perform the duties on professional organizing and technical guidance for the national marine ecological environment monitoring. Meanwhile, through the construction of the National Coastal Wetland Monitoring Center, sea-air carbon dioxide exchange flux and marine micro-plastics monitoring system, etc., the center continues to enhance the pilot, early warning and demonstration monitoring of emerging marine ecological environment issues, strengthen the construction of emergency response system for marine ecological disasters and pollution incidents, deepen the research on marine ecosystem response and adaptation under the influence of human activities, and further improve the marine ecological environment monitoring and evaluation system.

  The Center is responsible for the compilation of various types of information products related to marine ecological environment on a regular basis, including the “Bulletin of Marine Ecological Environment Status in China”, “Marine Environmental Information” and various types of features and circulars concerning marine ecology and environment. During tourism seasons, the Center releases to the public about the ocean environmental conditions of bathing beaches and coastal tourism areas.

The supreme executive body for the building and operation of the National Sea Use Dynamic Surveillance and Monitoring Management System

  In order to provide dynamic monitoring and surveillance on the development activities in the coastal areas of China and support for decision-makers, the former SOA officially launched the construction of the National Sea Use Dynamic Monitoring and Surveillance Management System  in 2006, which was based on the monitoring means including satellite remote sensing, aviation remote sensing and ground monitoring and surveillance

  Since then on, the Center has been assigned the task for organizing and managing the system construction and operation as the leading executive agency. By all the efforts of these years, the sea use   dynamic monitoring system covered by state, province, municipality and county levels has been established with a lot of achievements including development of operational management regulations and technical manuals, unified software platform and national sea use management database. Through satellites, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and video, the center has carried out surveillance and monitoring of the utilization and change of sea area resources such as reclamation and shoreline, and organized on-site verification of local use of sea areas to provide important support for sea area management and law enforcement. In October 2018, with the advancement of state institutional reforms, the operation of the sea use system was officially handed over to the relevant institution of the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Development Based on Marine Science and Technology Research

  In order to achieve the goal of building the center into a “domestic leading and world-class national professional center”, the center attaches great importance to the support and leading role of science and technology, and actively participates in and undertakes a series of scientific investigations and research in the China Sea, the ocean and the polar regions. Over the recent 10 years, it has completed a few National Key Science and Technology Projects including Specific Fund for Comprehensive Investigation and Assessment in Inshore Area of China Sea, Marine Scientific Research for Public Welfare, Global Change and Sea-air Interaction and Polar Research. Meanwhile, it has actively applied for, undertaken or participated in 141 national special science and technology projects, including the National Key Fundamental Research and Development Plan (973 plan), National High-tech Research and Development Plan(863 Plan), National Science and Technology Support Plan and the Science and Technology Fundamental Work Special Project. It also has undertaken 276 funds of various types, including 98 of the National Natural Science Foundation and the National Social Science Fund.

  Today, the Center possesses multiple qualifications in the field of marine environment management and resources development and protection, including the Metrology Accreditation Certificate by the People’s Republic of China, Criteria Accreditation Certificate by international quality system-ISO 9001:2000, Sea Use Authentication Certificate (Grade A), Marine Engineering Prospecting Certificate (Grade A), Surveying and Mapping Certificate(Grade A), among others.

Active International Cooperation and Exchanges

  For recent years, the Center has promoted bilateral marine scientific and technical cooperation and exchange actively with the US, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, Republic of Korea and Malaysia in light of its main missions. It also participated in projects launched by international and regional organizations such as UN-Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socio-economic Aspects; GEF/UNDP Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia and Reducing Environmental Stress in the Yellow Sea Large Marine Ecosystem; related activities of the North Pacific Marine Science Organization, and, provided technical support for the compliance to London Convention 1972 and London Protocol 1996 for China as the contracting party to both the convention and its protocol. International cooperation was helpful to effectively cultivate a team of experts with international vision, provided important technical support for China's active participation in regional and international marine environmental affairs.

New Journey New Mission

  In October, 2018, the Center was transferred to the jurisdiction of Ministry of Ecology and Environment. Facing a new era, a new journey, a new goal and a new mission and being guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, the National Marine Environmental Monitoring Center will earnestly implement decisions by the (CPC) Party Committee of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, shoulder the mission of safeguarding the “Blue Sea”, further strengthen political work, enhance capacity, work with one mind, conquer difficulties, forge ahead and fight hard so as to build an “iron army” in the field of marine ecological environmental protection. 

  The National Marine Environmental Monitoring Center will dedicate itself to the cause of marine ecological environmental protection with new spirit and greater enthusiasm, providing full support to the tough battle against pollution and striving to build a beautiful China.