China's exploration of ocean resources follows policymakers' calls to look to the seas for development, according to a report released on Tuesday.
China's Ocean Development Index rose from 100 to 115.5 between 2010 and 2013. With annual growth under 5 percent, the marine side of the economy trails well behind the rest, which expanded 7.7 percent both in 2013 and 2012, the slowest pace since 2001.
Marine output expanded 7.6 percent year on year to 5.43 trillion yuan (876 billion U.S. dollars) last year, accounting for 9.5 percent of the whole economy. Exploration of ocean resources however has grown at around 8 percent each year, according to the report published by the China Ocean Information Center, the Xinhua (Qingdao) International Ocean Information Center and the State Financial Information Center Index Research Institute.
"As resources on land are gradually depleting and the economy grows, China must look to the seas," said Liu Shuguang, deputy dean of School of Economics with the Ocean University of China.
Increased prospecting and exploration of the ocean drove the pharmaceutical development of oceanic bioresources to increase by 20.7 percent in 2013.
Marine crude oil output amounted 45.4 million tonnes last year, up 2 percent from previous year, but natural gas output fell 4 percent. Marine renewable energy, such as wind and tidal power, has increased almost three fold since 2010 when the Ministry of Finance began to fund research into oceanic energy.
To gain more land for development, China has some inshore reclamation projects but such development is rare in more distant waters. China set a reclamation quota of 21,500 hectares last year, but only 18,382 hectares were achieved, according to the report.