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Waterworld

The results of a public consultation on maritime territory management will lead to more studies and uncertainties in elaborating the law. Zoning of the 85 sq kms granted to the MSAR, as well as environmental conditions and natural resources, rests on a previous 20-year plan, announced last year, but only now ‘beginning’. Mechanisms for individual and commercial use of the waters are to be ‘pondered’. Meanwhile creating an environmental protection law for the zone will depend on the ‘level of urgency and importance’.

While the central government has ‘defined the maritime area under the jurisdiction of the MSAR’, the local government, although admittedly having ‘the responsibility to elaborate its functional maritime zoning’, will only be able to do so following the elaboration of its 20-year plan for the maritime zoning (2016-2036). While the 20-year plan was announced last year, no set date for its results, or implementation has been announced, with the document noting that the government ‘is beginning the study’ only now.
This means that ‘in relation to how to proceed concretely regarding the effective zoning, as well as the natural resources, environmental conditions, among others, referred to in the consultation document, these will be factors to ponder,’ notes the report summarizing the results of the public consultation on the Law of Maritime Management, released by the Legal Affairs Bureau. Until then, whether to follow the zoning used by the Mainland before granting the 85 square kilometres to the MSAR, is undecided.
In addition, the results of the public opinions raise questions as to division between what is considered land and sea, for which the Work Group on Legislative Work will ‘make another, more in-depth, study’, it notes.

Who gets to use them when and who manages?
Regarding the use of the maritime waters, ‘the mechanism for obtaining the right of use of maritime areas, determining whether an individual or an entity can use the maritime areas has to be previously authorised by the government of the MSAR, should be clarified,’ notes the report. The work group set to do so will ‘ponder the introduction of corresponding norms’ during the legislative process.
No fixed dates are mentioned.
Some of the opinions ‘believe the consultation document should include more measures for environmental protection of the maritime areas,’ points out the report, as well as questioning which group will be responsible for it and predicting costs. The report notes that whether to create an environmental protection law, ‘or not’, will depend on the ‘level of urgency and importance’ and depend on the application and current other judicial measures in place.
Regarding economic benefits, opinions received demonstrated that ‘intensifying the collaboration and exchange with other cities and coastal countries can assist in the construction of the international centre of tourism and leisure of the MSAR’. To ensure that this doesn’t interfere with the 20-year plan being elaborated, the report notes that the work group will ‘establish active communication with the competent services who study and participate’ in the 20 year plan, ‘in order to avoid disharmonious or conflictive situations between the politics and the law’.
Currently the group set up last year, the Commission of Coordination and Management of the Development of the Maritime Areas, will continue to function, tasked with the ‘uniform management, from the top, of issues relating to the management and development of the maritime areas, and, in accordance with the distributed works to other competent services, permit them to participate, in the management work of the maritime areas’.

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