Dispute escalates on the best way to clean up Bohai Sea The mainland's top environmental watchdog has clashed publicly with maritime authorities over pollution controls on the Bohai Sea, arguably the dirtiest coastal waters in the country. While the State Environmental Protection Administration (Sepa) said the pollution in the Bohai Sea was under control, the State Oceanic Administration (Soa) has warned the sea could be dead in 10 years from industrial discharge and untreated sewage. The rare public spat between central government agencies emerged this week when they released seemingly contradictory information through state media, which coincided with a five-day intergovernmental forum convened by the UN environment programme (UNEP) in Beijing. The forum, closing today, is aimed at reviewing global efforts on the protection of the marine environment. Deputy Sepa director Zhu Guangyao insisted that their upbeat assessment, which was included in a report presented to the forum on behalf of the central government, was more trustworthy. 'We are authorised by the State Council to release the latest information about the national campaign to clean up the Bohai Sea, which started in 2001 and is led by Sepa, but we've noticed that some government department has published their views in their own interest,' Mr Zhu said. He was referring to reports this week by China Central Television and People's Daily, both party mouthpieces, which cited a recent Soa survey saying the appalling pollution of the Bohai Sea had deteriorated despite billions of yuan invested to curb degradation. Aware of the public confusion caused by the wrangling between Sepa and Soa, which has continued for years, Mr Zhu said the row was about how to assess the national clean-up campaign and what standards should be adopted. 'We are all aware that the Bohai Sea is heavily polluted, but we should also bear in mind that the government has paid a lot of attention and done a lot to control pollution in the past five years.' Another senior Sepa official said Soa was one of the nine government ministries and departments that had helped Sepa compile the official report on Beijing's preservation of the marine environment. But an official from Soa said its statistics, based on regular surveys by more than 8,000 monitoring posts along the mainland coast, should be telling. He noted a harsh warning made by Vice-premier Zeng Peiyan in August during an inspection of the Bohai Sea. Mr Zeng said the polluted areas in the sea continued to expand, discharged contaminants remained high, and departments should work together, according to Xinhua. Wang Bin , a Soa maritime expert, said: 'Soa is authorised by the law to survey, monitor and assess the marine environment.' Dr Wang said Soa's grim assessment was based on the long-term trend of pollution in the sea, but Sepa apparently did not include Soa's views in the official report.