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Home:Current Activities: Strategic and Emerging Issues

Strategic and Emerging Issues

The New Strategic Direction for COBSEA (2008-2012) describes the need for COBSEA to provide assistance to its member countries in identifying and addressing strategic and emerging issues of priority to the East Asian Seas region, through increasing awareness and strengthening the capacities among COBSEA member countries in managing such priority issues.

The focus of activities will be on the following thematic areas:

  • Marine- and landbased pollution;
  • Coastal and marine habitat conservation; and
  • Management and response to coastal disasters.

The East Asian Seas region is one of the most densely populated areas of the world with more than 85% of its population living in the coastal areas. The marine waters are one of the most productive in the world, but rapid economic development is putting pressure on the marine resources.

Marine- and landbased pollution

Human activities on land are a major threat to the health, productivity and biodiversity of the marine environment. About 80 per cent of all marine pollution is caused by human activities on land in the form of sewage disposal in rivers and coastal waters; urban storm-water run-off; sediment mobilisation; inadequately treated waters from industries; discharges of phosphorus and nitrogen used in agriculture; and finally, dumping of heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants.

Sea-based activities such as shipping and fishing also need attention in order to minimize oil spills, transfer of invasive species, marine litter etc.


"Overview on Land-based Sources and Activities Affecting the Marine Environment in the East Asian Seas", 2000.
(read..., pdf file, 7.97MB)

"Overview of Impact of Sewage on the Marine Environment in the East Asian Seas: Social and Economic Opportunities."
(read..., pdf file, 2.44MB)

Coastal and marine habitat conservation

The East Asian Seas region has the richest marine biodiversity in the world. It contains one of the greatest concentrations of coral reefs, mangroves, seagrasses, coastal wetlands and other important habitats. The region's large coastal population is highly dependent on the resources provided by these unique habitats.

However, a variety of anthropogenic practices threaten reef health and other ecosystems and jeopardize the benefits that flow from the services and goods. These threats range from sedimentation from deforestation, agricultural practices and coastal development, pollution, tourism, harvesting of corals for aquarium trade, tourist curios and cement, destructive fishing practices and overfishing, to global issues like global warming and rise in sea temperature.


The Status of Coral Reef Management in SouthEast Asia: A Gap Analysis
(read..., pdf file, 895KB)

Case Studies of Coral Reef Monitoring and Management Projects (2004-2005)
(read..., pdf file, 2,255 KB)

COBSEA Regional Workshop on Coordinating Coral Reef Monitoring and Management in the Seas of East Asia (read....., pdf file, 24,284 KB)

Review of Projects on Coral Reef Management Implemented by COBSEA, Through the East Asian Seas Regional Coordinating Unit (EAS/RCU) (read.....,pdf file 783 KB)

Management and response to coastal disasters

Over the past years, the East Asian Seas region has suffered from an increasing intensity of natural hazards such as tropical cyclones, flooding, earthquakes and Tsunamis. As a result of climate change, predictions for the future are in dire straits suggesting raising sea levels and an increase in extreme weather events, mainly affecting the coastal zone. At the same time, the potential impacts of these disasters are increasing with a growing coastal population density.



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