The ecological importance of the East Asian Seas region's natural habitats can sometimes be overshadowed by its grandeur and the benefits its people derive from it. Development-related pressures compounded by a changing climate and its adverse effects on land, water and air exert tremendous pressure on the environmental carrying capacity of these ecosystems and pose serious threats to biodiversity and the steady stream of goods and services they provide. Greater awareness and clear evidence of the impacts of climate change provides countries with renewed impetus to take the threats to marine ecosystems more seriously than before.
To achieve the goal of sustainable development, PEMSEA ICM sites place considerable emphasis in the management of coastal and marine habitats, such as mangroves, coral reefs, seagrass beds and other wetlands. Each ICM site and pollution hotspot has identified the critical threats to their natural habitats as a priority concern, and were able to address these threats by developing and implementing various levels of action programs to protect, restore and manage natural habitats. Through such actions, ICM sites aim to conserve biodiversity and sustain the goods and services generated by their respective coastal ecosystems.
Local Initiatives to Mitigate Global Threats
Significant progress has been made in Sriracha Bay in Chonburi, where a Sea Turtle Conservation Program has been initiated. Under this program, the local municipality and the Thai Royal Navy have taken an active role in sea turtle conservation. They set up a sea turtle hatchery and encouraged local fishers to rescue sea turtles caught by fishing nets, providing collection ponds in the city park where the turtles are fed and treated for wounds and diseases. Turtles from the hatchery and from the parks are then released back to the wild. The annual release of sea turtles has been designed to enhance stakeholder awareness and participation in coastal resource conservation, attracting the participation of local fishers and citizens, private sector, academe, government agencies and administrative units, as well as the media.
In addition to these activities, a number of other protection and restoration activities have been implemented, including mangrove reforestation in Manila Bay, coral reef rehabilitation in Bali, and protection and conservation of reef marshes in the Bohai Sea. Clear evidence of the impacts of climate change and other human activities on coastal and marine ecosystems has pushed such issues to the forefront of the agendas of many countries. A key action program in the SDS-SEA, ICM offers a holistic and integrated approach to protecting, restoring and managing natural habitats for biodiversity conservation.