BEIJING, June 20 (UPI) -- Explosive economic growth in China's coastal regions has led to levels of ocean pollution that threaten human and marine life, a government report concluded.
The State Oceanic Administration of China says 18,000 square miles of Chinese coastal oceanic territory is seriously polluted, an increase of 7,000 square miles from last year, Inter Press Service reported Monday.
As expanding coastal centers dispose of a growing amount of industrial and domestic waste at sea, about 56,000 square miles of the country's coastal waters failed to meet standards for "clear water" in 2009, the SOA reported.
Overall, 14 of the 18 ecological zones monitored by the SOA were found to have unhealthy levels of pollution. SOA's 2010 China Marine Environment Bulletin reported that 86 percent of China's estuaries, bays, wetlands, coral reefs and seaweed beds were below what the agency considers "healthy."
Government officials acknowledge much remains to be done in tackling the problem of ocean pollution.
"Our environmental quality is only improving in certain areas, but overall the environment is still deteriorating," Vice Minister of Environmental Protection Zhang Lijun said.