Blue economy bulletin: lessons from COVID-19, marine nutrition, and plastic credits

Welcome to the first Blue Economy Bulletin of 2021. 2020 was a difficult year, and holds many lessons for project management. We look at the effects of the pandemic on our SDS-SEA implementation throughout the region. We also share a timeline of the 28 years of PEMSEA activities, leading up to this year’s East Asian Seas Congress.

The importance of fisheries for human and ecological health has been reinforced by a recent report into the state of freshwater fish populations. Meanwhile the FAO has committed to developing transshipment guidelines. A province in Viet Nam is looking to expand shrimp aquaculture in light of changing environmental conditions. Plastic pollution remains a significant blue economy challenge, especially due to its link to climate change. The concept of plastic credits has emerged, reflecting such a link, although it remains ill-defined. In the Philippines, plastic straws are among the materials being considered for banning.

Follow the latest updates on blue economy and coastal sustainable development in East Asia on Facebook and Twitter (@PEMSEA). We welcome your feedback, and please let us know if there are other blue economy topics you would like to see in future newsletters and programs.


28 years of pemsea

PEMSEA has released a new timeline of our history from 1993 to 2021. The final entry on this timeline is the East Asian Seas Congress 2021, taking place in December this year! View the whole timeline.

SDS-SEA Project: Lessons learned in the year of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic was the biggest challenge encountered during the implementation of the SDS-SEA. The pandemic hampered the full completion of selected project outputs, particularly for reports and studies such as the State of Oceans and Coasts (SOC) Reports, where the results and recommendations need to be validated usually on a face-to-face arrangement. Read more from PEMSEA.


Closed season is a mixed bag for Philippine sardines industry

Some fisheries in the Philippines are closed from the beginning of December to the end of February. This period is when sardine spawning occurs, and these closures are credited with increasing fish stock near the Zamboanga peninsula, where secondary livelihood options are available. Similar results have not been achieved elsewhere. Read more from Mongabay.

World must not forget small wetland

Wetlands are critical storage areas for fresh water, and provide water cleaning and biodiversity supporting ecosystem services. Such utility extends to “small” and “micro” wetlands, which are often overlooked. Read more from WWF.

Sardines in the Visayas (TANAKA Juuyoh (田中十洋) / Flickr)


FAO Committee on Fisheries members urged to adopt global transshipment guidelines by 2022

The FAO Committee on Fisheries agreed to develop international transshipment guidelines to help combat IUU fishing. This follows a report in 2020 detailing the IUU risk facing global fish stocks. Read more from SeafoodSource.

Why Disaster Tech in Asia holds great potential, and how to scale the field

The Asia-Pacific region is at particularly high risk of disasters. There is large scope to improve disaster response through better technology, but it remains an underfunded areas. Read more from Alliance.

Three typhoons over the western Pacific in 2020 (NOAA)


World’s forgotten fishes vital for hundreds of millions of people but one-third face extinction

A new report finds that one in three freshwater fish species are threatened. Such fish form important food stocks, especially for local communities, and action is necessary to stem the loss of these species. Read more from WWF.

UN regional meeting to focus on energy transition in Asia-Pacific during COVID-19

Officials from UNESCAP member countries have met to discuss the transition towards greener energy sources. The region still has progress to make to meet SDG 7 on affordable and clean energy. Read more from UNESCAP.

PH may soon ban plastic softdrink straw, plastic coffee stirrer following NSWMC approva

Plastic softdrink straws and coffee stirrers have been added to an list of “non-environmentally acceptable products” by the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC). Items on this list are expected to be banned at a future point. Read more from DENR.

Mekong delta fish in Viet Nam (Milo Weiler / Unsplash)


A 10-step plan to save our seas

Many actions need to be taken to avert the expected ecological devastation of the ocean, and the knock-on effects of this on people and the economy. Such actions include better building a blue economy to manage sectors such as aquaculture and ensure the ocean industrial revolution brings benefits not costs. Read more from the World Economic Forum.

Kiên Giang expands lucrative shrimp-breeding models

Viet Nam’s Kiên Giang province, situation in the Mekong river delta, plans to significantly expand shrimp aquaculture while assisting farmers in meeting international standards. This is partly to adjust to changing environmental conditions Some growth will come from adjusting pure rice fields into rotating rice-shrimp fields. Read more from Viet Nam News.

A shrimp farm in Indonesia. (Vebra / Panoramio)


The Wild West of plastic credits and offsets

The concept of “plastic neutrality” is gaining ground, and has brought with it the concept of “plastic offsets”, following similar ideas in the carbon space. Such concepts remain ill-defined, with the eventual efficancy uncertain. Read more from GreenBiz.


Creating a circular plastic economy could bring a significant reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, reducing both energy used in creation and methane leaks from landfills. Such reductions could reach 9.7 million tons annually in Indonesia alone. Read more from Circulate Capital.

Countries urged to apply to new initiative for green and resilient recovery

The Climate Investment Funds (CIF) is seeking applications from countries to its Technical Assistance Facility, which was established to help recover from COVID-19. Read more from CIF.

Methane vents on an old landfill site. (Paul Birrell / Geograph)


World Ocean Summit Virtual Week

1-5 March, Online

Seminar: A Journey towards a Sustainable Marine Park: The Tun Mustapha Park Story

8 March, Online. Register here.

Implementation of the S2S Approach to Management: Workshop

12 March, Online

This S2S workshop is being organized to bring together those who have already been involved in source-to-sea studies and projects and those who have an interest in learning more about taking source-to-sea action on the ground. Attendance is limited.

e-Learning course on Smart City

12 April, Online

Singapore Maritime Week

19-23 April, Singapore