China has quickly emerged as one of the fastest growing economies in the world but the economic boom has been accompanied by disappearing coral reefs with a new study revealing that coral reefs in the country have shrunk by more than 80 percent over the last three decades.
Scientists from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology said that their survey of mainland China and South China Sea reefs shows alarming degradation.
The study, published in the latest edition of the journal Conservation Biology said that decline in the coral abundance can been seen on coastal fringing reefs along the Chinese mainland and adjoining Hainan Island, the Herald Sun reports.
The authors of the study said that coastal development, pollution and over fishing linked to China's aggressive economic expansion were the major drivers.
According to the report, coral loss in the South China Sea, where reefs stretch across about 30,000 square kilometers, was compounded by competing territorial claims.
There were some marine parks aimed at conservation, but study author Terry Hughes said these were too small and too far apart to arrest the decline in coral cover.
The paper pointed put that other global studies have shown that over 30 years of unbridled economic growth has left large parts of China environmentally devastated by some of the most severe air, water and land pollution in the world.