International Coral Reef 
Action Network
ICRAN Strategic Plan
Draft of 23 June 2000
East Asian Seas
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East Asian Seas 9

The East Asian Seas region differs from the other RSPs by not having a Convention, but a regional Action Plan was adopted in 1981. The Action Plan has one related protocol, the Protocol for the Prevention of Pollution by Dumping. The UNEP Secretariat, the Regional Coordinating Unit for the East Asian Seas Action Plan (UNEP EAS/RCU) manages both the Action Plan and the Protocol. 

South East Asia contains one quarter of the world's mapped reefs. Over 80 percent of the reefs in this region are at risk and over half (56 percent) are at high risk. More than 70 percent of the region's people live within the coastal zone, putting heavy pressure on nearby marine resources. Overfishing, destructive fishing practices, sedimentation and pollution associated with coastal development are the biggest threats. 

Indonesia and the Philippines account for a major portion of these habitats. Reefs in both these countries are noted for extraordinarily high levels of biodiversity. Studies suggest that only 30 percent of the reefs of both countries are in good or excellent condition. Coastal zone policy and management decisions made by these two countries will have a major impact on the global heritage of coral reef diversity for future generations. 

The ICRI Regional Workshop

The East Asian Seas ICRI Workshop in Denpasar, Bali (March, 1996) identified the main threats to coral reefs and associated ecosystems in the region. However, the threats are not ranked in order of significance: 

- Unsustainable exploitation of coral reef resources, including overfishing and unsustainable tourism
- Destructive fishing and collecting methods
- Pollution from land-based sources including nutrients and sedimentation
- Sedimentation due to soil erosion Inappropriate coastal construction and land filling
- Coastal and marine development projects undertaken without adequate Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
- Channel blasting and dredging
- Natural disasters. 

Recommended actions from the meeting were: 

- To encourage all countries to have policies and legislation for conservation and sustainable use of coral reefs,
- To promote coordination at national and regional levels,
- To collect and store adequate data for management and determining the health status of coral reefs, including data from a regional monitoring network and strategic research,
- To achieve awareness on the issues of coral reef management and related ecosystems throughout the community encompassing all levels of government through to subsistence fishers and users,
- To enhance public participation in integrated coastal management and training opportunities,
- To achieve adequate capacity in relevant organisations to manage and conserve the coral reefs and related ecosystems of the East Asian Seas for sustainable use,
- Understand and apply the economic and ecosystem value of coral reefs and related habitats in order to achieve conservation and sustainable use of these resources,
- Address rational resource use, social equity, access and use issues in the sustainable use and management of coral reefs and related ecosystems,
- Develop financial strategies for sustainable use and management of coral reefs and related ecosystems,
- Implement mechanisms and processes for participation of all sectors of society in sustainable use and management of coral reefs and related ecosystems,
- To accelerate rates of natural recovery of coastal resources and restoration of natural processes through rehabilitation mechanisms. 

A recent workshop on coral reef monitoring and data acquisition (EAS/RCU in Phuket, 9-11 May, 2000) recommended developing a regional database network and support for monitoring of coral reefs to determine their health, be strengthened in the region. The workshop identified all the issues still relevant after four years. Four outstanding actions from the 1996 workshop are: 

1. To stop cyanide fishing in the East Asian Seas Region 
2. To implement programs to "Train-the-Trainers" to build capacity throughout the Region to address the threats to coral reefs and related ecosystems 
3. To implement the regional priorities for MPA establishment and management as identified in the "Global Representative System of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)" Report.10 
4. To support the development of a regional node for the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network. 

Action Phase Priorities

The generally poor knowledge of coral reef location and the status of their health should be improved before adequate management can occur. More precisely, mapping and strategic monitoring are the key priorities to adequately manage coral reef ecosystems. Already a number of marine parks have been established or planned in the region but many of these are not managed adequately to sustain the resource and legislation is either poor or not enforced. The following pilot sites (below) are suggested in the region to cover most of the recommended actions from the 1996 workshop and also to be suitable for demonstration to other coral reefs in the region. The suggested projects listed below are all part of on-going or proposed projects so that the ICRAN funding will be enhancing or helping to coordinate them. 


Monitoring for management in the Ream National Park. The Ream National Park at Sihanoukville was declared a national park and a management headquarters and infrastructure have been established. This would be a very good demonstration site for training and capacity building for a self-sustained monitoring system. The park includes coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove. A fishing village exists within park boundaries and some encroachment by aquaculture ponds. The exact position, size and health of the coral reefs in Ream National Park is not known. This demonstration site could be used to map coral reefs, teach the rangers to dive or snorkel and conduct coral reef monitoring. However, the basic equipment for field work is lacking. The UNDP office in Phnom Phen is well equipped to carry out mapping if the field work can be done. The ground truth of mapping would give the local rangers the capacity to then continue with these skills and monitor coral reefs in the park. Policy and legislation for coral reef management is also lacking; however, even if in place, laws cannot currently be enforced. In past cases, a main problem in Cambodia has been that once funding has been used a project loses impetus. Therefore, developing local sustainable financing is a key challenge for this country. 

- Assist in establishing national infrastructure for coral reef monitoring and protection
- Train rangers to SCUBA dive and carry out coral reef monitoring
- Obtain satellite images of Ream National Park
- Map coral reefs in Ream National Park
- Ground truth maps of Ream National Park
- Prepare 1:100,000 maps
- Annual monitoring of coral reefs
- Develop or improve existing legislation on coral reefs in the Park 
- Over and above the minimum, provide the Salary for full time supervisor of the Ream National Park. This person must be capable of training the rangers, working closely with the local villagers, recruiting and choosing staff and fund raising to support sustainable staff at the Park. 


Monitoring the results of coral reef degradation, and raising awareness on how to care for coral reefs. Coastal erosion is removing about 10 meters of shoreline per year on Hainan Island after coral reefs were destroyed. The environmental impact of losing coral reefs can be a convincing tool for national authorities and coastal managers in demonstrating the devestation that occurs once reefs are lost. On Hainan Island the provincial government has started a tourism industry based around coral reefs and diving. Legislation and enforcement are in place and there is a great number of people taking part in observing coral reefs, either from glass bottomed boats or by diving. The EAS/RCU has noted that very little is known within this area about the care that divers should take while underwater. This demonstration site is therefore aimed at educating dive-store operators through teaching diving practices that do not damage corals and at the same time educating the public on the advantages of caring for coral reefs. The visiting public will also require educational materials concerning the basic biology and ecology of coral reefs so that they can understand the basis of local rules and legislation. 

- Record and document the consequences of coral reef destruction on the coast
- Prepare posters and booklets in Chinese on coral reef care and management at the dive store operators' level
- Hold a workshop in Hainan at which the basic biology of coral reefs is demonstrated, and the local people have a chance to explain local problems and management procedures are discussed
- Develop local rules for dive operators to use to help preserve coral reefs 
- Record and document the consequences of coral reef destruction on the coast.
- Training courses in safe diving practices on coral reefs and Reef Check 


Demonstrating community participation in caring for coral reefs. In collaboration with the WWF Indonesia Wallacea Bioregional Program this demonstration site would be in Bali Indonesia, where there is already a network of coral reef monitoring. Currently the data from the 33 sites at 8 locations is sent to the WWF Indonesia Office where it is processed and returned to the data providers. This proposal would place data from the current monitoring network into a regional database, and ReefBase as metadata-- information about the description and quality of monitoring data collected. This is an important tool in organizing and properly sharing information within the Region. If the results are successful, this demonstration would be expanded to other sites in the region. 

- Assess existing information on community participation in ReefCheck, and assist in extending the geographic area of monitoring and protection. 
- Provide funding to employ a database network manager for the whole region who will concentrate on the Bali data, at first, to put them on the regional database network. Assistance will be given to the WWF database and the site will be a pilot study to see if this can be done in other areas where data exist but are not on the regional network. 
- Extend the above to assisting the START Regional database to handle, collect and disperse, where necessary, data or metadata from the Region, and to ensure that this information is effectively compatible with ReefBase. 


Effects and needs of management efforts. Surveys of coral reefs of Sabah in the South China Sea and in the Sulu-Suluwasi Sea were carried out between the 1980s and present. There are a number of marine parks in the region successfully run and showing signs of improved fish numbers and coral health. In contrast with the reefs of Cambodia, and the lack of strong government policy in that country, Malaysia has a better management system in place and many more tourists. It is proposed that ICRAN support further monitoring of coral reefs in Sabah through the University Malaysia Sabah and the University Malaysia Sarawak. This monitoring is at a higher level than the dive-store operators monitoring at Phuket and should be addressed at determining the extent of and recovery from blast fishing and management needs. Support should be given to enhancing a method, already in an experimental phase, to detect blast fishing as it occurs. 

Support monitoring by University Malaysia Sabah ensuring that data goes into the network of databases in the region and that recommendations concerning the control and ending of blast fishing be prepared for later funding opportunities. Some evidence of the use of monitoring data should be available at the end of the project. 
Assess the success of detecting blast fishing and monitoring the effects of blast fishing on coral reefs. 


Comparing different management methods. Siliman University Marine Laboratory has been involved with Reef Check monitoring for two years at Apo Island, Negros Oriental, a prime tourist destination. Reef Check data are the primary source of data used to manage the reefs, including limiting the number of divers per day on the reefs. It provides the community with a scheme by which to monitor changes in reef health. Negros Oriental has established 26 marine protected areas along its coast with varying amounts of enforcement of regulations. Dynamite fishing is eliminated although cyanide is still used in limited areas. It is proposed to enlarge the existing monitoring regime to cover some or all of these MPAs with the aim that the data is used by Reef Check in its assessment of the health of coral reefs and for the local community in managing the local reefs. This would be an excellent opportunity, as a demonstration site, to compare the different management methods on Negros Oriental and to see if provision of information to community groups actually assists in conservation of coral reefs. 

- Provide regular funding to assist with volunteer divers' collection of Reef Check data. 
- Determine criteria on which to assess the use of monitoring and monitoring based decisions on the health of coral reefs. 
- Ensure that all data collected goes onto the regional database network. 
Full-time assistance is needed to assess the performance of the marine protected areas established in Negros Oriental and the reaction of local community groups to them. The data gathered would be used to demonstrate the features of MPAs that are enforced, not enforced, community group-owned and compared with areas that are not protected. 


Comparing community-based surveys with professional. Phuket is the center of the dive industry in Thailand. From Phuket, local dive sites are visited daily while live-aboard boats take divers to offshore islands in the Andaman Sea. There is impact from divers, fishers and pollution from the land on coastal coral reefs. Within Phuket a marine biological station conducts both coral reef monitoring and research. This demonstration site would bring together the copious data collected by a network of dive shop operators and the more rigorous data collected by the marine station for the benefit of improved management. This coordination would allow for quality control, testing of methods and improved monitoring for the local area. The example set here could then be carried to the whole region where data collection, acquisition and feedback is not adequately carried out, as was discussed at the recent EAS/RCU Coral Reef Monitoring and Data Acquisition Workshop. 

Employ a database operator who can store, analyse, determine the statistical quality of data and assess the quality of data collected by dive store operators. This database operator would work under the direction of the leader of the coral reef work at the Phuket Marine Biological Centre. From this, improvement in data collection by volunteers and incorporation into the data collected by the Marine Station is the expected outcome. 
The PMBS is responsible for coral reef monitoring along the Andaman coast but its funding is insufficient to have a wide and representative sampling regime. With ICRAN funding, more detailed monitoring and mapping of coral reefs could be expanded. Strategic research would include assessing the recovery of bleached reefs and determining the effect of education and public awareness of coral reefs on their health. 

Viet Nam

Raising the awareness on coral reefs and their socio-economic value in the Nha Trang Marine Protected Area. Coral reefs in Viet Nam have similar problems as in other developing countries in that basic information concerning coral reef health and exploitation is required. In many cases in Viet Nam marine protected areas have been established. At Nha Trang there is a good deal of research and management conducted through the Oceanography Institute. A demonstration site to educate local people and tourists on the necessary care and attention needed within a marine protected area is proposed. This demonstration could also be a focal area in determining the socio-economic value of coral reef systems providing further information on changing community use of coral reefs. Local language posters and brochures would also be prepared as part of this educational program. 

Prepare educational material in Viet Namese. Develop statistically rigorous methods to assess the success of the educational programme. Train at least 6 divers a year in coral reef monitoring ensuring that these people have a basic knowledge of coral reef ecology. Determine the socio-economic effects of strict management and legislation on communities near marine protected areas. 
Once the coral reef monitoring people are trained the best of them could be used by other countries to train Reef Check or other monitoring methods in the Region. This team should be supported by the country requiring the training, but some support is required to improve the trainers' skills and assist them in expenses. 

9 Participating Countries: Australia, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Due to map scale, some of the countries are not visible. 
10 G. Kelleher, et al 1995. A Global Representative System of Marine Protected Areas. Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, The World Bank, The World Conservation Union (IUCN). http://www.erin.gov.au/library/pubs/mpa/foreword.html 
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