Tuesday 11 November 2008

Sea patrol force to get more muscle

China's marine surveillance (CMS) force will be strengthened to guard and manage 3 million sq km of ocean and 18,000 km of coastline under the country's jurisdiction.

Sun Shuxian, CMS's deputy director, said: "The force will be upgraded to a reserve unit under the navy, a move which will make it better armed during patrols.

"The current defensive strength of the CMA is inadequate for protecting the country's marine resources from transgression and damage," he said.

Sun, however, he did not say when the CMS will become a naval reserve unit.

With equipment upgraded to military level, the CMS will be able to strengthen its routine patrols, he said.

The force, currently under the authority of the State Oceanic Administration, was established in 1998.

In the past decade, the CMS has spent about 1.3 billion yuan ($19 million) on equipment and the recruitment of staff.

Today, the force is 8,000-strong with nine aircraft and more than 200 patrol vessels.

Every day, there are at least six vessels and three aircraft on duty to guard China's marine resources against transgression by foreign vessels, unauthorized reclamation of land, illegal fishing, excessive exploration, and marine pollution.

CMS figures show that from 2001 to last year, it detected more than 15,000 illegal incidents in territorial waters, and nearly 10,000 cases have been prosecuted.

"The CMS plays a big role in protecting the country's marine resources," Sun said.

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