PEMSEA’s First Virtual Partnership Council

Happy Eid al-Adha and welcome to the July 2020 PEMSEA e-update! Following PEMSEA’s first ever virtual Partnership Council meeting, we are pleased to announce two new partnerships and the extension of our Executive Director’s term. It has been a busy month for coastal and ocean news, with topics including climate change, plastic pollution, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people, livelihoods, and coastal and marine ecosystems. In between newsletters, follow us on Facebook and Twitter (@PEMSEA) for the latest updates.


PEMSEA forges new partnerships with NIVA, COMI

PEMSEA welcomes two new partners to join its work in implementing the shared regional marine strategy called the ‘Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS-SEA).’ The Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA) joins PEMSEA as its 23rd Non-Country Partner. Coastal and Ocean Management Institute (COMI) of Xiamen University has been designated a Regional Center Of Excellence for Sustainable Coastal Development. The formal e-signing of the partnership agreements will take place on 26 August 2020. Watch this space for more details.

PEMSEA extends Executive Director’s term

PEMSEA has extended the term of Ms. Aimee T. Gonzales as Executive Director of the PEMSEA Resource Facility (PRF) for another three years from 2021-2023. The term extension follows the decision of the 12th East Asian Seas (EAS) Partnership Council Meeting held in July. Ms. Gonzales is expected to continue the implementation of the SDS-SEA. PEMSEA is also expecting new projects to be implemented in the 4th quarter of 2020 and in 2021 as part of operationalizing the organization’s sustainability plan.

Koh Kong administration distributes 50 bins to Peam Kreung community

The Koh Kong Administration, through the Secretariat of the Cambodian Coastal Management and Development Committee (Koh Kong), distributed some 50 trash bins to the Peam Kreung community as part of the implementation of a community-based solid waste management project supported under the GEF/UNDP/PEMSEA Scaling Up the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia.

Gearing up for the next decade of healthy oceans

On the verge of a new decade, PEMSEA’s focus for 2019 centered on an expansion of target accomplishments, an expansion of geographic reach and scope, and an expansion on activities that address specific issues relating to marine pollution and ocean health, but always nested within the broader integrated coastal management (ICM) system.

From the News section

The impact of hunting on migratory shorebird populations
Up to one third of shorebirds migrating along the East Asian-Australasian Flyway may have been killed through hunting since the 1970s. This has contributed to an overall 61% decrease in the number of waterbirds using the flyway. The number of countries along the migratory path mean that cooperation is essential to conserving migratory species.

Reef sharks are in major decline worldwide
A study of reefs around the world, including off Viet Nam, has found a lack of sharks in places where they have historically been found. Up to 100 million sharks are thought to be killed each year.

Massive decline in migratory fish threatens livelihoods of hundreds of millions
Migratory freshwater fish populations have shrunk perhaps 76% since the 1970s. Many rely on wetland areas, which are disappearing three times faster than forests.

From egg hunter to protector, Malaysian battles to save turtles
On Redang Island in Malaysia, some communities who once turned to turtle eggs for food now protect them. While selling turtle eggs remains legal in some situations, there is pressure to change this. Turtle hatching is becoming an ecotourism draw, providing livelihoods to communities that protect them.

Climate change

Global Temperatures Likely to Significantly Increase over the Next 5 years
New predictions issued by the World Meteorological Organization suggest there is a 20% chance global temperatures will reach 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures before 2025. The WMO states governments should embrace climate action to “ensure that we grow back better”.

Emissions slashed today won’t slow warming until mid-century
New simulations of different greenhouse gas reduction scenarios shows a significant lag will exist between reducing greenhouse gas emissions and a significant impact on the global climate. This is a particular issue with carbon dioxide, which can persist in the environment for centuries.

COVID-19 opens a can of worms for fisherwomen in Cambodia
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly damaged Cambodian small-scale fisheries, many of whom cannot afford electricity to store unsold and uneaten fish catches. This is often a greater issue for women, who are often unaware of government incentive and enterprise schemes.

5.6 Percent Reduction in CO2 Index for Container Shipping from 2018 to 2019
Within the 17 shipping companies that together account for 85% of global container shipping, CO2 emissions per container per kilometer for dry cargo dropped an average of 5.6% in 2019. For refrigerated cargo, it dropped 2.5%.

Marine pollution

Oil slick threatens Philippine mangrove forest recovering from earlier spill
An oil spill occurred off the Philippine island of Guimaras in early July. This brought back reminders of the Philippines’ worst ever oil spill, which took place off Guimaras in 2006. The local government has taken quick action to contain this new spill and limit its environmental and community impacts.

Jakarta bans single-use plastic bags
The Indonesian capital has introduced a ban on single-use plastic bags, which are a significant contributor to the waste generated in the city. This waste has only grown during the COVID-19 pandemic, due to increased online shopping and takeaway food purchases.

Plastic pollution to weigh 1.3 billion tonnes by 2040
A new report estimates that under a business as usual scenario, plastic pollution will increase to 1.3 billion tonnes in the next 20 years. However, under scenarios where significant measures are taken, waste output into the ocean could be reduced by as much as 80%.

Surge in single-use PPE feeds ‘toxic’ pandemic waste crisis
The rise in PPE use due to the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a rise in PPE litter in the oceans. PPE is often single-use, and managing its disposal has not been a priority for many governments during this crisis. Equipment such as gloves and masks often uses a variety of plastic types.

Engaging industry to tackle marine litter
UNEP convened global actors at this year’s High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development to discuss issues including the role of private industry in marine litter. While some elements of industry are seen as a producer of plastic waste, others have been on the front lines of innovation to solve the issue.

Ocean governance

Restoring Yellow Sea’s ecosystem through marine litter management, integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA), and wetland protection
The Yellow Sea supports a variety of vital ecosystems as well as supporting the livelihoods of many of the 200 million people that live along its shores. The Yellow Sea Large Marine Ecosystem (YSLME) Phase II Project has supported the development of ecosystem-based management principles for this shared sea.

App harnesses citizen power to keep tabs on Philippines’ coral reefs
A volunteer group has created an app that allows divers to send in photo of bleached coral from around the Philippines. It is hoped this citizen science initiative will allow the status of these coral reefs to be more closely monitored and understood.

Investments in nature-based pandemic prevention would save trillions compared to prevention response
A new study examining the cost of responses to COVID-19, which may reach $5.6 trillion, has estimated that engaging in preventative measures beforehand would have cost trillions less. Deforestation and the wildlife trade are contributory factors to zoonotic virus spread. Law enforcement and a good livestock health regime help prevent outbreaks.

Synthesizing a generation of policy making in LMEs
The Global Environment Facility has released a series of policy briefs covering different subjects related to Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs). The 23 LMEs come from different areas of the globe, and each brief includes policy critique and recommendations.

Blue economy

Low pangasius prices cause heavy losses for farmers in Mekong Delta
Farmers in Viet Nam’s Mekong Delta have invested in expanding pangasius production in line with its usual expected value. An increase in supply together with the significant drop in demand during the COVID-19 pandemic means costs now exceed revenue.

Study values women’s long-overlooked contribution to fisheries at $5.6b per year
Women play a significant role in small-scale fisheries around the world. In Indonesia, women are estimated to catch over a quarter of a billion dollars worth of fish every year. These contributions are often overlooked by policymakers, and these contributions remain understudied.

National Accounting for the Ocean and Ocean Economy
The High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy has released a new paper examining how ocean services and assets are often overlooked and undervalued in national accounts. Implementing new innovations and statistical standards would help produce a more accurate and useful accounting.

Back To Nature Investing in nature is more important than ever to safeguard economies, health, and wellbeing.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is developing a $5 billion healthy oceans action plan to improve the health and sustainability of the Asia-Pacific Oceans. This will be especially important in efforts to create a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

China’s new green development fund raises $12 billion in phase 1
China’s first dedicated environmental fund, the National Green Development Fund, is designed to support a green transformation in China’s economy. Areas of initial focus for green development include the Yangtze river region.

ESG investors wake up to biodiversity risk
Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing is often focused on climate change as the significant environmental risk. However other risks, caused by biodiversity loss and ecosystem destruction, are becoming more widely recognized. New efforts are being launched to better quantify the value of natural capital.


Abstract submission for the 1st International Symposium on Human Health & the Ocean in a Changing World

Deadline: 2 September 2020
Event: 2-4 December, 2020, Monaco


23-24 September 2020

Our Ocean 2020

7-8 December 2020

Abstracts for the 13th International Conference on the Environmental Management of Enclosed Coastal Sea

Deadline: 9 April 2021
Event: 6 – 10 September 2021, Hull, UK