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Sea Waters 'Heavily Polluted'
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Marine pollution has worsened in the past year, especially in the shallow waters off the coast, said the Beijing oceanic authority on Friday.

"The coastal marine ecosystem is getting worse, the quality of off-shore ocean water has not improved. Large amounts of pollutants are filtering from the land into the sea," said Li Chunxian, spokesman for the State Oceanic Administration (SOA) at a news conference.

A report was also released on the condition of China's seas, marine accidents and the rise of the sea level last year.

A total of 149,000 square kilometers of sea failed to meet acceptable standards, 10,000 square kilometers more than in 2005.

The most heavily polluted areas were concentrated along the Bohai Sea and the estuary of the Yangtze.

Lying off the coast of north China, one of the country's most populous and developed areas, the Bohai Sea continues to be the most polluted of four problem areas.

An area of 20,000 square kilometers, accounting for 26 percent of its waters, failed to meet acceptable standards.

Land waste was the major cause of the pollution, Li said. About 81 percent of the 609 waste discharge stations, supervised by the SOA, dumped more waste than the permitted amount last year.

A total of 12.9 million tons of waste was discharged into the sea.

Li called for more efforts to repair the damage and strengthen control of discharge containing harmful elements.

Jiang Zhenghua, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, warned on Thursday that the reclamation of land had also harmed aquatic resources and intensified sea disasters.

The rapid economic development of the coastal areas resulted in the reclamation of 300 square kilometers of land every year from 2001 to 2005, Xinhua reported.

According to SOA, a national plan will be drawn up for land reclamation this year to better the oceanic environment.

Marine disasters

The report also said that last year recorded serious marine disasters in China.

Economic losses suffered by the coastal areas from storms, typhoons, red tides, and tidal waves were 21.84 billion yuan ($2.73 billion), an increase of 11.4 billion compared to 2005.

A total of 492 died or went missing, 121 more than 2005.

The continuous rise in the sea also contributed to the record number of tidal waves, the report said.

The sea level has kept on rising an average of 2.5 millimeters a year in recent years. It is 7.1 centimeters higher now than it was between the period of 1975 and 1986, according to the report.

The rise in sea level has severely eroded the coastal areas of Shandong, Jiangsu, Shanghai and Hainan. "The rise has influenced the economy and ecosystem of the offshore outlets in China," Li said.

(China Daily January 13, 2007)

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