Building a Network of MPAs in the Yellow Sea

Aichi Target 11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) calls for protecting 10% of the coastal and marine areas by 2020. In the Yellow Sea region, PR China and RO Korea have committed to achieve this Aichi Target and management effectiveness of MPAs by aligning the expansion with the principles of biophysical connectivity in line with the YSLME Strategic Action Programme (SAP).

Since the early 1990s, MPA establishment in the Yellow Sea region has steadily increased. By 2018, 93 MPAs and aquatic germplasm resource conservation zones (AGRCZs) in PR China and RO Korea (22,049 km2) have been designated to protect marine mammals, birds, fishes, mollusks, plants and algae in the Yellow Sea area. This covers 5.5% of the 40,000 km2 of the YSLME.

Establishing well-designed and operational MPA networks does not happen instantly. In support of this objective, the UNDP/GEF YSLME Phase II Project developed a training kit entitled “designing a network of MPAs for the YS based on principles of biophysical connectivity”. The project also conducted several follow-up events to roll out the networking process, such as: (1) the MPA connectivity training in RO Korea in July 2018, (2) the YSLME MPA Networking Workshop in China in January 2020, (3) the Webinar Workshop for Management Plan for Spotted Seals in May 2020, and (4) identifying conservation gaps in areas in line with the principle of biophysical connectivity.

The National Marine Environment Monitoring Center of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of PR China (NMEMC) identified six sites (Rudong Coast, Luannan Coast, Yingkou Coast, Zhuanghe Coast in PR China, Sindo Island in DPR Korea, and Saemangeum Coast in RO Korea) as spatial gaps on the conservation of endangered waterbirds and their habitats, while one site (Bak-ryoung Island) as a spatial gap on conservation of Spotted Seals and their habitats. The study by Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (YSFRI/MARA) proposed to expand the existing 25 AGRCZs based on assessment of conservation gaps of spawning sites, feeding and wintering grounds and migration routes of anchovy, small yellow croaker, mackerel and Spanish mackerel.

 Today, the UNDP/GEF YSLME Phase II Project is proud to launch an information video entitled, “Developing a Network of Marine Protected Areas of the Yellow Sea”.  The video features key developments in the region and perspectives from the stakeholders and site managers in relation to enhancing effectiveness of MPA management through regional networking.