The East Asian economy could suffer seriously if seas are not protected, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

In its new report, the UNEP said East Asia’s economically viable coastal habitats and ecosystems are under threat from pollution, alien invasive species and other factors.

Nearly three quarters of the population of the region depends directly or indirectly on coastal areas, and 80 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) is linked to coastal natural resources, stated Achim Steiner, UNEP Executive Director.

As a result, the degradation of the ecosystem and the costal environment would directly impact the region’s poverty levels unless urgent action is taken, he added.

UNEP’s Marine Environment of the East Asia Seas States report said that almost 40 percent of coral reefs and half of all mangroves have already been lost while those natural resources annually generate about 112.5 billion USD and 5.1 billion USD respectively.

The East Asia Seas , with some of the world’s highest concentrations of shipping and fishing vessel activity, account for 50 percent of global fisheries production and 80 percent of global aquaculture production, the report said.

The UN noted that the East Asian Seas account for 30 percent of the world’s seas under national jurisdiction and called on the governments of the region, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam to fulfil their vital role in maintaining effective stewardship of the marine environment./.