The Third Meetings of the Management, Science and Technical Panel (MSTP) and Interim Commission Council (ICC) of the Yellow Sea Large Marine Ecosystem (YSLME) were held in Qingdao, China, on 12-14 March 2019. The meeting was participated by 61 representatives from the governments of China, RO Korea, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), members of the Regional Working Groups (RWGs) from the two countries and observers from academia, regional seas programs and NGOs.
Highlights during the opening of the meeting include reconfirmed commitments to the transboundary diagnostic analysis (TDA) and Strategic Action Programme (SAP) as the strategic planning framework for ecosystem-based management of the YSLME, and the iterated urgent need to consider post-YSLME Project arrangements before official project closure. Prioritization of activities was emphasized, to achieve the objectives of restoring the ecosystem carrying capacity and consolidation of the regional environmental governance framework within the limited timeframe.
Director Mr. Chang Soo Kim of MOFA/ROK prioritized post-project arrangement for YSLME in his opening remarks
Director Ping Qi of MNR/PRC reaffirmed MNR’s commitments to successfully complete the project in 2019
UNDP/GEF RTA Dr. Jose Padilla urged political commitments in setting up a regional ocean governance mechanism for YSLME
UNOPS Head of Program Ms. Katrin Lichtenberg called for close partner collaboration in delivering the results in 2019
Reviewing the Project Progress Report, the meeting recognized the significance of project implementation considering the 2019 project termination. The meeting adopted the Secretariat report on the implementation of the planned activities in 2018 in relation to ICC operationalization and its subsidiary bodies, implementation of the project cooperation agreements (PCAs), procurement, recruitment of experts, expenditure and financial aspects of the implementation of the project.
Upon review of the status of implementation of key actions in response to Mid-Term Review (MTR) recommendations, the Secretariat was requested to put more effort on implementation of activities by reducing the number of events and meetings, although reducing the total number of RWGs from 6 to 4 is not feasible to consider so close to project termination.
YSLME SAP 2009-2020 Implementation
The meeting welcomed the results of the implementation review of the National Strategic Action Plan (NSAP) (2009-2016) in PR China and RO Korea and requested contributions made through the project be considered with tangible outcomes for the benefit of Yellow Sea conservation. Reiterating the significance of problems derived from marine litter, more information on its treatment including best practices in both countries be added to the NSAP.
The meeting reviewed the Annual Project Progress Report 2018, including the status of project implementation in line with project targets in the project result framework. The meeting acknowledged the current initiative by China on marine litter with guidelines and unified methodology from both countries in monitoring jellyfish. The report will also be updated to reflect updated information provided by RO Korea.
In light of the need for flexibility and innovation in arriving at a regional ocean governance for the YSLME, the meeting decided to continue discussions for a mutually agreed interpretation of the YSLME Commission. The meeting agreed to revisit the Strategic Results Framework at the 4th meeting of the ICC.
The meeting reviewed the process and timeframe to update and adopt the YSLME TDA and SAP.
The meeting approved the 3rd YSLME Science Conference, with the date and venue to be determined. Potential participants will be notified in advance. The conference will invite potential participants, ask collaborating partners to actively participate in the conference; and organize a plenary session on TDA and SAP with participation of government offices from both countries.
Regarding the establishment of the Regional Ocean Governance Mechanism for the YSLME, the meeting approved the TOR for a consultancy emphasizing the need of close consultation and coordination with the RWG on Governance, participation of experts involved in the SAP update, review of bilateral and regional mechanisms to benchmark the regional ocean governance mechanism of the YSLME and review of existing reports and studies supported by the YSLME Phase I Project and other partners. The meeting requested the deliverables be submitted for review by the partner countries in June 2019.
Collaborative Initiatives to Implement YSLME SAP
The meeting approved the following cooperation initiatives:
- The Framework of good aquaculture practice (GAP) of integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA), to be developed into the industry standard of aquaculture at least at national level in PR China.
- Design and launch of the YSLME Clean Beach City Alliance.
- Joint Studies on Migration and Environmental DNA of Spotted Seals.
- YSLME Marine Environment Monitoring Program
Dr. Juying Wang, RWG Chair on Pollution Reduction presents the YSLME Marine Environmental Monitoring Program
Dr. Gyung So Park, RWG Chair on Habitat presents the China-Korea joint study proposal on Spotted Seal
On the Yellow Sea Grant Program (YSGP), the meeting decided not to conduct the second call for proposals and include the YSGP under the overall arrangement of the regional cooperation framework of the YSLME.
The meeting approved the following Project Cooperation Agreements (PCAs) to be signed between UNOPS and PCA entities:
- Amendment of PCA with the First Institute of Oceanography of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) of PR China.
- Amendment of the PCA with YSFRI of PR China on Reemployment Training of Displaced Fishermen Joining the Fishing Vessel Buy-Back Scheme to be conducted by Yantai University.
- PCA with North China Sea Environment Monitoring Center on Demonstration of Integrated Investigation of Wetland Ecosystem of Jiaozhou Bay of Qingdao.
The meeting reviewed and approved a revised 2019 workplan with the understanding that uncommitted funds will be returned to the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The Communication Strategy and Implementation plan was also approved with the following suggestions: regularly update the recently-launched website; upload critical Phase 1 documents; and explore ways to maintain the website after the termination of the Phase II Project.
The meeting welcomed possible cooperation of partners by utilizing upcoming events as a means of cooperation to engage DPR Korea to participate in YSLME activities.
The meeting suggested UNOPS to share the Project Audit standard terms of reference and scope/extent of work for relevant Parties to get informed properly in advance. The meeting reviewed guidelines for Terminal Evaluation, considering the limited time for arrangement of potential consultants in close consultation with members states. The Secretariat will undergo the closure process at the end of 2019. The meeting was notified by MNR of the relocation of the PMO Dalian Branch from National Marine Environment Monitoring Center (NMEMC) to National Marine Hazard Mitigation Service of the MNR. UNOPS is requested to proceed with the relocation officially as soon as possible.
The meeting agreed to have the final MSTP-ICC meeting in September/third quarter tentatively and to hold ad hoc ICCs based on needs with the last ICC to be held in RO Korea or China for full participation by all partners.
The meeting reviewed and adopted the summary report and attached workplan 2019.