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The UNEP/GEF Seagrass Demonstration Sites in South China Sea: Milestones in Seagrass Research and Biodiversity Management in East Asia

By MIGUEL D. FORTES, KIM SOUR, XIAOPHING HUANG, TRI EDI KURIANDEWA, NGUYEN VAN TIEN, OUK VIBOL, NEMESIO MARCO MONTANO, TUTU ALMONTE and SUVALUCK SSTUMANTPAN

Abstract

In Southeast Asia, only in the last 20 years have seagrasses been a focus of sustained scientific inquiry. In parallel, only in the last 10 years, have they, as a discrete community, been subjected to any natural resource management. In the South China Sea region there has been a rapidly increasing rate of seagrass loss and decline. Loss of the beds in the region has been due largely to destructive fishing, such as push net, trawler, sedimentation from coastal development, wastewater effluents, and aquaculture. The economic return from seagrass beds in East Asia is very poorly known. To address these growing threats to seagrass and reverse the degradation trends in marine habitats, the UNEP/GEF South China Sea Project has, in part, promoted and established four Seagrass Demonstration Sites: one each in China, the Philippines, Cambodia, and Vietnam. These sites are helping translate into actions, the specific targets of the seagrass component of the project for management and conservation of seagrass ecosystems and biodiversity till 2012. These targets are: 1. Twenty one managed areas totaling 13,755 hectares in the South China Sea, with a minimum of two managed sites in each of the 7 participating countries, by 2012 2. Adoption at a high level and implementation of the provisions of the National Action Plans for Seagrass by all countries by 2012 3. Government recognition of the ecological importance of seagrass through amendment of the management plans for seven existing MPAs with significant areas of seagrass habitat, to include specific seagrass-related management actions by the year 2012 4. Adoption of seven new Marine Protected Areas specifically focusing on seagrass habitats by the year 2012 The compelling reasons why the four seagrass demonstration sites in the South China Sea are, indeed, milestones in seagrass research and coastal resource management in the region include: 1. They share what they do best 2. They develop a critical mass of trainers 3. They work through on-site actions, not through words 4. They are ‘life-laboratories’ 5. They are community-owned, hence, cared for 6. They are platforms for the science-management linkag

Topics: South China Sea, seagrass, demonstration sites, capacity building, biodiversity, 468.8
Publisher: Seto Marine Biological Laboratory, Field Science Education and Research Center, Kyoto University
Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:repository.kulib.kyoto-u.ac.jp:2433/70903
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