About 14 million hectares of China's coastal areas -- 5 percent of the total sea area in China -- are polluted, according to the State Oceanic Administration.
"China's coastal areas are suffering severe damage to their eco-systems, a decrease in oceanic resources and a loss of biological diversity," Li Xiaoming, director of the administration's ocean environment protection department, said yesterday.
According to Li, 31.7 billion tons of waste water, almost four times the average annual waste over the last century, was poured into the sea in 2005 and over 25 million tons of pollutants were discharged into the water.
Coastal wetland areas have decreased by 50 percent since the 1970s and coral reefs by 80 percent.
Pollutants have also caused red tides, in which large amounts of algae kill sea creatures. The first half of this year has seen 73 cases of red tides, while 453 cases were reported between 2001 and 2005, which contaminated over 9 million hectares.
"The problems are caused by the negative impacts of the fast-growing economy in coastal cities and lack of financial and technological support. We need sound planning and more severe measures," Li said.
(Xinhua News Agency October 14, 2006)