Monday, April 14, 2008

South China Sea in trouble, say marine experts

Terra Daily, via Agence France-Presse: Polluted, crossed by busy shipping lanes, and disputed by many countries, the South China Sea has taken an environmental battering that threatens future food supplies, marine scientists have warned. In a decade the sea -- at the heart of a densely populated and rapidly industrialising region -- has lost 16 percent of its coral reefs and coastal mangroves and 30 percent of its sea grass, says the United Nations.

The exploitation of its fisheries, both legal and illegal, by family boats and industrial deep sea trawlers now threatens to deplete fish stocks that millions of people rely on, a Hanoi conference heard last week. "The key issues on a basin scale are habitat degradation and loss, overfishing and land-based pollution," said Vo Si Tuan, who served as Vietnam representative to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) South China Sea Project. "There are many, many problems, but these are the biggest."

The South China Sea is ringed by China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, with about 350 million people living along its coastal areas.

Map of the South China Sea, US Department of Energy (hm...), Wikimedia Commons

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