China’s boom savages coral reefs—study


The Kalayaan island in the contested Spratly islands in the West Philippine Sea. Coral loss in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea)– where reefs stretch across some 30,000 square kilometers (12,000 square miles) – was compounded by poor governance stemming from competing territorial claims, a joint Australian study found Thursday, Dec. 27, 2012. AFP/KAYALAAN MUNICIPAL OFFICE

SYDNEY—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.

Coral loss in the South China Sea – where reefs stretch across some 30,000 square kilometers (12,000 square miles) – was compounded by poor governance stemming from competing territorial claims.

Some marine parks aimed at conservation had been established but study author Terry Hughes said they were too small and too far apart to arrest the decline in coral cover.

“The window of opportunity to recover the reefs of the South China Sea is closing rapidly, given the state of degradation revealed in this study,” he said.

More than 30 years of unbridled economic growth has left large parts of China environmentally devastated, with the nation suffering from some of the most severe air, water and land pollution in the world, global studies have shown.

Such destruction has led to widespread local frustration and a number of protests, some of which have succeeded in getting proposed new factories and facilities canceled or postponed.

The government has laid out a road map to transform China’s development mode to one that is more environmentally friendly and less dependent on headlong economic growth.

The South China Sea, which the Philippines refers to as West Philippine Sea, is strategically significant, home to some of the world’s most important shipping lanes and believed to be rich in resources.

China claims most of the sea including waters near the shores of its neighbors. Rival claimants include Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam, and tensions over the issue have flared in recent years.

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  • John

    Philippines should develop it’s own arsenal.  US has signified that it does not
    meddle in the dispute of Philippines and china.  We can not just rely
    too much on US because words like paper can be denied or burned in one
    single stroke.  Philippines should be self reliant as much as possible
    in defending it’s territories and sovereignty. 

    Anak bayan, Bayad(n) Muna, Makabayan and all the left wing in
    government, should NOT be voted.  They are under china’s payroll.  They
    are traitors. As we can see, they don’t even say anything or rally
    against china.

    Lastly, we should support only products from the Philippines or
    anything made from friendly countries. Boycott as much as possible
    greedy land grabber china fakes.

    • opinyonlangpo

      After four days, only one like your idea. Can only mean one thing, nobody cares.

  • F

    as i always say, we cannot fight china with force. the best thing we can do right now is boycott their products or services. do not renew contracts. their products are below standards anyway.
    their toys are dangerous for the kids and their candies poisonous.

  • F

    lucio tan is a fil-chinese billionaire living in the philippines who never helps our government.
    he does not give money to the poor. he was charged of not paying taxes. and he is a big shot of philippine air lines or pal. that is the reason i won’t ride PAL.

  • lourda

    Talagang pinepeste na ng China ang halos buong karagatan ng SE. China has no respect for the Lives of their own People, what more for the Nature?. We must do something (Government) against  this, specially on our Territorial water, for the sake of our next Generation. And I hope not only us are boycotting their products but the rest of the world.

  • rezli

    coral soup yan ang bago sa mga chekwa, lasa daw tenolang manok……….

  • Timothy Te-Co

    Isn’t Philippine Airlines owned by San Miguel now?

  • Jose

    China is the harbinger of death.  From melamine tainted milk to leaded toys and products… would it surprised us with this news?

    No, but it made clearer why they are expanding away from their own shores. 

  • rodulio

    The Dog will continue to steal natural resources until they can be stop.

    For now, there is nothing the Philippines can do about it. 

    Go cry to Uncle Sam for help…..

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