Global Nation Inquirer –
China’s economic boom has seen its coral reefs shrink by at least 80 percent over the past 30 years, a joint Australian study found Thursday, with researchers describing “grim” levels of damage and loss.
Scientists from the Australian Research Council Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology said their survey of mainland China and South China Sea reefs showed alarming degradation.
“We found that coral abundance has declined by at least 80 percent over the past 30 years on coastal fringing reefs along the Chinese mainland and adjoining Hainan Island,” said the study, published in the latest edition of the journal Conservation Biology.
“On offshore atolls and archipelagos claimed by six countries in the South China Sea, coral cover has declined from an average of greater than 60 percent to around 20 percent within the past 10-15 years,” it added.
Coastal development, pollution and overfishing linked to the Asian giant’s aggressive economic expansion were the major drivers, the authors said, describing a “grim picture of decline, degradation and destruction.”
“China’s ongoing economic expansion has exacerbated many wicked environmental problems, including widespread habitat loss due to coastal development, unsustainable levels of fishing and pollution,” the study said.