PEMSEA's capacity development activities emphasize strengthening the coastal and ocean governance and sustainable use of the East Asian Seas. Over the years, PEMSEA has forged partnerships with internationally recognized research institutions in the region to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS-SEA).
PEMSEA Regional Centers of Excellence (RCOEs) contribute to the protection and improvement of the region's marine environment, particularly through the following: (1) providing expert advice on areas of competence; (2) coordinating and undertaking studies and/or projects, making research results available to participating countries and institutions; (3) training researchers from countries of the region; and (4) organizing regional training courses on areas of competence.
To date, PEMSEA has accredited two RCOEs in the region.
An internationally recognized institution on marine pollution, MERIT provides training and technical support for the development and implementation of integrated river basin and coastal area management projects in Manila Bay, Jakarta Bay and Bohai Sea.
UP-MSI, named a PEMSEA RCOE in 2012, specializes in coral reef research and marine protected area (MPA) management. At present, UP-MSI works with MERIT on testing artificial mussel technology for metal monitoring in Manila Bay.