International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

Prevention and Management of Marine Pollution in the East Asian Seas

The maritime countries of East Asia hold one-third of the world's population, more than half of whom live in the coastal zone. Diversification and intensification of economic activities to meet growing demands for food, employment, and shelter have placed tremendous pressures on coastal and adjacent marine environments. As a result, the coastal waters of the region have become contaminated by untreated sewage, industrial effluents, oils, pesticides, and hazardous wastes from land- and sea-based activities. The increasing volume of shipping traffic into and within the region has led to dumping at sea and oil and chemical spills, which have attracted wide media coverage and public attention. The general public now perceives shipping accidents as seriously threatening the livelihoods of coastal populations. The major land-based issues affecting marine resources include proliferation of poorly planned urban centres, mismanagement of coastal forests, and unregulated development of inefficient and polluting industries. Unfortunately, many countries in the region lack the financial resources and technical and managerial capabilities to plan, implement, and manage programs to address marine pollution problems within their jurisdictions.

The Project: This GEF/UNDP project, implemented by the International Maritime Organization, has been assisting participating countries in managing East Asia's transboundary marine pollution problem. A regional approach was necessary because East Asian countries have previously managed this common marine resource with a range of water quality standards, pollution regulations, and national development plans. A fundamental strategy of the project is to demonstrate the effectiveness and modalities of integrated coastal management in tackling marine pollution from land-based sources. This decision making framework and management process involves all major stakeholders, including governments, the private sector, local communities, and scientific and educational institutions. It also incorporates measures to prevent and mitigate adverse impacts on coastal and marine ecosystems into stakeholder planning and operational activities.

The project is providing key stakeholders a better appreciation of the social and economic opportunities resulting from marine pollution initiatives and the costs and benefits of partnerships between government and the private sector. Activities/ Progress: The project is developing: An integrated management framework for land- and sea-based sources of marine pollution Working models on prevention and mitigation of marine pollution from land-based activities Capacity building at local and national levels through hands-on experience, practical training programs, technology transfer, and information dissemination Harmonization of pollution monitoring and analytical measurement techniques Networking among national scientific institutions, research centres, and organizations involved in marine and coastal monitoring activities for sharing of information on the coastal and marine environment of the East Asian seas Networking of public and private institutions in the region on the legal aspects of marine pollution, status of national regulations, and implementation of international conventions Public-private partnerships as financial mechanisms to sustain local, national, and regional marine pollution programs.

By 1996 the project had launched integrated coastal management programs at Batangas Bay in the Philippines and Xiamen in China. Both are demonstrating successful management of local coastal and marine activities and will function beyond the life of the project. The project has also assisted the littoral states of the Malacca Straits to

  • (a) identify existing and potential pollution risks to the coastal and marine environment of the straits,
  • (b) strengthen surveillance and regulatory mechanisms and instruments for managing pollution in the straits, and
  • (c) package their approaches, methods, and experience for use in other subregions with similar issues.

The project has also succeeded in attracting more than US$7 million in cofunding and other sponsorship arrangements. Benefits: The project will: Reduce coastal and marine pollution in East Asia Strengthen capacity of government and institutions Contribute to protection of human health in coastal populations Serve as a model for replication elsewhere in East Asia.


East China Sea (LME)

Documents & Resources
General information
GEF ID 396
Project type FSP
Project Status Project Completion
End Date 29 Sep 1999
GEF characteristic:
Focal Area
GEF Allocation to project 8.02M US$
Total Cost of the project: 11.42M US$
Brunei Darussalam , Cambodia , China , Indonesia , Korea Democratic People's Republic of , Korea Republic of , Malaysia , Philippines , Singapore , Thailand , Viet Nam

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Project contacts
Dr. Chua Thia-Eng Chair Emeritus
Dr. Won-Tae Shin Programme Specialist
Jed Saet webmaster
Mr. Jose Erezo Padilla Regional technical Adviser(RTA)