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Ocean tech improvements accelerating sector upgrading
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2008-04-29 14:18

By Zheng Yang

Since 1960s, the exploitation and utilization of marine resources has turned from traditional industry into the new modern ocean exploitation era, which is featured as worldwide, all-round, large scale and industrialized.

"The traditional ocean industry is accelerating upgrading, and new industries are emerging enormously. In a mass, China's ocean industry is in its growing period" , said Wang Hong, Deputy Director-General of State Oceanic Administration.

According to 2007 Statistic Report of China's Marine Economy, the ocean economy maintained higher growth than the national economy in 2007. The total value was RMB2.4929 trillion, increasing by 15.1 percent than 2006 and accounting for 10.11 percent of the gross domestic product.

The backside of the steady growth of main ocean industries is the strong support of science and technology. "The upgrading of traditional superior industries like marine transportation and shipbuilding industry needs the support of science and technology, and growth and expansion of new industries such as marine biological pharmacy, marine electric power and seawater utilization need fosterage and transformation using science and technology. At present, the world ocean economy has stepped into a new period: high-tech is the support, and economy, society and biological environment system are developing harmoniously."

From the revival of ocean salt industry to the gradual formation of ocean chemical industry, we could feel the key role of ocean technology clearly.

The technology of covering crystallizing pond with plastic film and relevant equipment, which was originally created by China, has greatly advanced the high quality and high output of sea salt areas. The introduction of foreign salt manufacture technology and facilities has promoted the refined salt production of China to be automatic, large scale, energy saving and high quality, and narrowed the technological gap between China and the advanced salt manufacturing countries. In 2007, the value-added of China's ocean salt industry was RMB 5 billion, up by 17.4 percent than the previous year.

In the early period of time, the only chemical product we could distil from seawater was salt. But now we can distil products with high value added, such as kalium, bromine, and magnesium. The technology progress expedited the emergence of ocean chemical industry, a newly ocean industry. There are more than 80 elements in seawater, the tackling of key ocean chemical technologies and the full development and use of chemical substances and relevant nuclear resources has a great realistic and strategic importance to the increasingly urgent resource and material shortage. 

Eyeing on the strong impetus of technology on the upgrading and transformation of ocean industry, the State brought forward the concept of "making use of the sea with science and technology" in time in early 1990s. In 2003, the State Council issued National Development Compendium of Marine Economy, which stipulated that to the year of 2010, science and technology will be the solid reliance of China's ocean economy, and marine technology's contribution to ocean economy will be improved, ocean industries will be gradually cultivated to be the new growth point and backbone industry of national economy.

The innovation of marine technology will inevitably drive the quick development of ocean industry. The target of "making use of the sea with science and technology" is to achieve more than 50 percent science and technology transformation rate, and realize 50 to 70 percent contribution rate of technology progress to ocean economy.

China has had certain ocean science and technology resource base to achieve the said goal. Wang Hong told the reporter that after over 50 years' development, China has built relative complete maritime scientific research and technology developing system, has already had 122 relevant research institutions and colleges and built a set of key laboratories, sharing information system and database, and has constructed and equipped a set of vessels with advanced facilities for comprehensive marine survey. Stereoscopic ocean observing system, with marine satellite, airplane, radio station, floating, and vessels as the main body, has had its initial scale.

The future of traditional ocean industries will rely heavily on the development of science and technology. As the industrial structure was not that reasonable, and the production mode was extensive, traditional industries have multiple problems like environment pollution, local resource exhaustion, and lower growth rate. We need to improve traditional ocean industries by using science and technologies, for example, to develop seawater breeding and pelagic fishing, which have become the essential way for ocean fishing.

The newly ocean industries cannot emerge without the progress of the ocean science and technologies. For instance, technology for separating burn injury resistance and acesodyne material from sponge and technology for distilling substances that could lower colesterol and avoid cardiovascular disease, etc, and the development of marine drugs with our independent intellectual properties. Develop the distilling, separating and purifying technology of marine bioactive substances, and develop a set of marine function food, cosmetic and other refined marine chemical products with high added value, and so on.

Wang Hong told the reporter that relative departments of State Oceanic Administration are reinforcing research on relevant policies according to the requirement of scientific development and building innovative country and are trying to create an environment good for marine technology innovation and industrialization, including talents, capital and market, in order to promote the connection and transfer between marine technology achievements and ocean industries. At the meantime, in consideration of the "high risk, high input and high output" characteristics of marine science and technology and ocean industries, relevant departments will further formulate preferential financial and taxation policies on some fields and projects, such as seawater desalination and comprehensive utilization and deep-sea resource exploitation technologies, and so on. 
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