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Coasts, mudflats are vanishing, research shows

By Wang Qian  (China Daily)

09:34, October 27, 2012

Coastal aquaculture and land reclamation are swallowing about 61 percent of the country's natural shorelines and up to 33 percent of its mudflats, report shows.
The shorelines and mudflats are important in preventing coastal erosion.

The report, released by the State Oceanic Administration on Friday, said more shorelines and mudflats will disappear if no effective measures are taken to protect the country's fragile coastal environment.

Guan Daoming, deputy director of the National Marine Environmental Monitoring Center, said authorities should control human activities in coastal areas because such areas are important to the marine biological system.

The maintenance of mudflats can help prevent coastal erosion, dilute pollutants and support a large population of wildlife such as mangrove forests and migratory birds, he said.

Research shows that one hectare of mudflats can purify excess nitrogen and phosphorus from 100 hectares of farmland, which is the most effective way to filter out agricultural pollution and industrial sewage.

The report also says the country's mangrove forests have been reduced to 27 percent of the level seen in the 1950s and coral reefs to 20 percent of the 1950s level.

As mudflats disappear, natural shorelines are being replaced by construction sites for villas and industrial zones.

The report said more than 70 percent of the coastlines in Liaoning, Tianjin, Hebei, Shanghai, Zhejiang and Guangxi are occupied by human development.

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