The Northwest Pacific Region is vast and features a large variety of marine and coastal ecosystems, from cold and deep-water ecosystems in the north, to coral reefs in the south. The region comprises semi-enclosed marginal seas situated in both the sub-polar and temperate zones. It has spectacular marine life and commercially important fishing and mariculture grounds and rich offshore mineral resources such as oil.
Coastal development, industry, transport, oil production and activities such as land reclamation and intensive mariculture take an ever-greater toll on coastal ecosystems. Chemical and industrial wastes, untreated municipal sewage, agricultural pesticides and nutrients in run-off cause widespread damage and stimulate eutrophication and harmful algal blooms. Added to these are pollution from land, accidental oil spills, atmospheric pollution and marine and coastal litter.
The Northwest Pacific Action Plan and three supporting resolutions including five priority projects were adopted in 1994.
NOWPAP member countries established four Regional Activity Centres (RACs) in 2000-2002.
From 1994 to 2004, UNEP Regional Seas Coordinating Office acted as Interim Secretariat for NOWPAP.
NOWPAP Regional Coordinating Unit (RCU) established by member countries and co-hosted by Japan and the Republic of Korea, facilitating the implementation of the Action Plan. The two RCU offices were inaugurated in November 2004 and started operations in January 2005.
The NOWPAP Regional Oil Spill Contingency Plan was adopted in 2003.
The Memorandum of Understanding on Regional Cooperation regarding Preparedness and Response to Oil Spills in the Marine Environment of the Northwest Pacific Region was signed in 2004/2005.
NOWPAP Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter was adopted in 2007.
In order to support the implementation of the priority project activities of the NOWPAP region, a network of Regional Activity Centres (RACs) was established:
- CEARAC, Toyama, Japan - the Special Monitoring and Coastal Environment Assessment RAC.
- DINRAC, Beijing, People’s Republic of China - the Data and Information Network RAC;
- MERRAC, Daejeon, Republic of Korea - the Marine Environmental Emergency Preparedness and Response RAC; and
- POMRAC, Vladivostok, Russian Federation - the Pollution Monitoring RAC;
These centres are responsible for carrying out their activities at the regional level and serve all member states.
NOWPAP priorities are: to set up a regional monitoring and assessment system; to develop a regional data and information network; to put in place a contingency plan for oil and chemical spills; and to prepare and implement regional action plan to deal with marine litter.
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