Marine scientists from the Northwest Pacific region review targets for assessing ocean health

March 21, 2019
Press Release

Marine scientists from China, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation met in Vladivostok, Russian Federation in March 2019 to discuss ways of assessing the health of the seas shared by the four countries in order to support regional progress towards ocean-related Sustainable Development Goals.

The meeting, organized by the Pollution Monitoring Regional Activity Centre (POMRAC) of the Northwest Pacific Action Plan of the four-decades-old UN Environment Regional Seas Programme, discussed six most applicable indicators related to monitoring marine ecological quality in the region and agreed on the targets for the four of them, aligned with environmental Sustainable Development Goals.

They also suggested Jiaozhou Bay in China, Toyama Bay and/or Hakata Bay in Japan, Masan Bay in Republic of Korea and Russia’s Amursky Bay as designated areas for testing of the targets related to nutrient, chlorophyll ‘a’ and contaminant concentration levels in water and sediments, and marine litter.

Anatoly Kachur, Director of Pollution Monitoring Regional Activity Center said that the testing will make it easier for the countries to monitor the state of the marine and coastal environment.

The Vladivostok expert meeting, held at the Far Eastern Branch, Russian Academy of Science, followed up on the five ecological quality objectives (EcoQOs) for the Northwest Pacific region agreed on by the four countries in 2014, namely ensuring that:

  • Biological and habitat diversity are not changed significantly due to anthropogenic pressure
  • Alien species are at levels that do not adversely alter ecosystems
  • Adverse effects of eutrophication are absent
  • Contaminants cause no significant impact on coastal and marine ecosystems and human health
  • Marine litter does not adversely affect coastal and marine environments

In December 2018, Northwest Pacific Action Plan member countries tasked the Pollution Monitoring Regional Activity Centre with developing targets for measuring progress towards these regional ecological quality objectives in line with the global Sustainable Development Goals indicators. The Pollution Monitoring Regional Activity Centre analysed national targets related to the regional ecological quality objectives for identifying targets aligned with the indicators for ocean-related Sustainable Development Goals.

The Vladivostok meeting agreed on the following targets fro monitoring the quality of the marine and coastal environment:

  • Nutrient concentrations in the water column within the designated area do not exceed baseline values or national standards
  • Chlorophyll ‘a’ concentrations do not exceed baseline values
  • Contaminant concentrations in water and surface sediments do not exceed existing national standards over a five-year period
  • A decreasing trend in the amount of marine litter washed ashore over a five-year period

Marine scientists from the four countries will test these targets by observing actual monitoring data in designated areas in 2020–2021.