Promoting the Awareness on Coastal Marine Environmental Change and its Impact (PACMEC)

The WESTPAC region is one of the regions with the fastest growing economy, with 70% of the population living and 80% of the global aquaculture production in coastal areas. With the rapid growth of marine aquaculture, reclamation, transportation and other economic development in the coastal zones, the coastal environment and ecosystems have been changing rather quickly and experiencing many serious problems, such as harmful algae bloom, seafood poisoning, marine invasive species, coral bleaching, and habitat loss.

Established in 1989, the IOC Sub-Commission for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) has been mandated to promote regional cooperation on marine scientific research, observations and capacity building in order to assist member states to learn more about the nature of their oceans and coasts, and apply the knowledge to the improvement of management, sustainable development, protection of marine environment and decision- making process. Upon the increasing demand of member states for improving the scientific knowledge on these above identified issues and transferring those knowledge to the general public, WESTPAC with the support of the Japanese Funds-in-Trust for UNESCO, has been making efforts since 2010 to meet such demands through the establishment of regional network, sharing of scientific knowledge, and conduct of immediate actions for sustainability science.

Therefore this program aims to bridge the gap between the marine scientific community and the general public through the production and translation of complex scientific information into ordinary language easily understood by the general public. To this end, the proposed project will consist of the five components below, all of which aim to disseminate basic information of marine science, especially those related to coastal ecosystems, to general public using simple and indigenous languages, in order to raise the awareness on the dramatic change in the marine environment of WESTPAC member states, with focus on the following five identified issues:

  1. Harmful algal blooms and eutrophication
  2. Natural bio-toxins in marine organixme
  3. Marine invasive species
  4. Coastal habitat mapping
  5. Coral reef restoration (emerging issue during the 2nd phase since 2011)

The objectives of the approved program are to:

  • Establish/strengthen the regional research network and promote data and information exchange on harmful algal bloom with eutrophication, natural biotoxins in marine organisms, marine invasive species, and remote sensing for coastal habitats and other emerging marine biodiversity hotspots, such as coral reef restoration during the implementation of this project;
  • Enhance the awareness of general public on the impacts of nutrients loads from anthropogenic activities, the risk of natural biotoxins in marine organisms to human health, the negative social and ecosystem impacts of marine invasive species, and the loss of coastal habitats and other emerging marine biodiversity hotspot issues, such as coral reef restoration.