Procuratorates and authorities with marine environmental supervision and management powers can now file public interest lawsuits for environmental damages, according to a new document.
Maritime courts are designated special jurisdiction in such cases per the document, which was jointly issued by the Supreme People’s Court and Supreme People’s Procuratorate on Wednesday.
Supervisory departments can file lawsuits for compensation against infringers in maritime court over acts that result in destruction to marine ecology, aquatic resources and marine conservation areas, or cause heavy losses to the State.
Procuratorates can also file civil public interest litigation suits against infringers in the event supervisory departments fail to act. Additionally, procuratorates can launch administrative public interest litigation against supervisory departments if they fail to perform their duties.
With the rapid development of the marine economy, pollution from ships and land-based sources and the exploitation of marine resources continues to affect the marine environment, and the number of cases involving damage to marine resources and the environment are increasing. Consequently, strengthening legal protection of the marine environment is an urgent task, according to an unnamed official with the SPP.
The new regulations should improve judicial efficiency, save judicial resources and prompt marine environmental supervision and management departments to fulfill their legal duties.
According to the top court, the new regulations make full use of the advantages of the specialized adjudication of maritime courts and should lead to a fairer quality of rulings by overcoming local protectionism. To date, the country’s 11 maritime courts have set up 40 tribunals.