The 3rd Meeting of the Working Group on the Conservation of the Yellow Sea Intertidal and Associated Coastal Wetlands was held in Shinan, the Republic of Korea on 11th November, 2019 under the leadership and host of Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries Korea and Shinan County. Facilitated by IUCN, EAAFP and RRC-EA acting as secretariat for the Working Group, 20 representatives from government agencies and NGOs from Ro Korea and China attended the meeting to share updates and discuss the Work Plan 2020-2022 of the Working Group.
The Yellow/West Sea ecosystem of tidal wetlands, associated habitats and the biodiversity that relies on them, encompassed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Republic of Korea (RoK) and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The coastal wetlands in the Yellow/West Sea are critically threatened by wide range of pressure – around 66% of the intertidal wetlands in this region have been lost in the past 50 years.
Considering the transboundary nature of the Yellow/West Sea intertidal and associated coastal wetlands, participants from the three countries agreed to have the joint Working Group on the Conservation of the Yellow/West Sea Intertidal and Associated Coastal Wetlands during the Yancheng Symposium held in Yancheng, China in December 2017. The main objective of the working group is to facilitate common approaches to the protection, restoration, management of intertidal wetlands between China, DPRK and RoK. This is the only existing trilateral platform involving participants from the three Yellow Sea countries. The Working group is facilitated under the umbrella of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) and Ramsar Regional Center-East Asia (RRC-EA). The first meeting and second meeting of the Working Group were held in Shanghai in 2018 and Beijing in 2019 respectively to validate the Term of Reference (ToR) of the Working Group and to develop a joint, 3-year Workplan.
The third meeting, held in Shinan, Republic of Korea was ticked off by the opening remarks by Mr. Raphael Glémet from IUCN Asia Regional Office. Mr. Hyung Min Lee, Deputy Director of Marine Ecology Division, Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Korea and Mr. Seung Jae Ko, Director General, Department of Public Administration and Welfare of Shinan County gave welcoming remarks. It then moved to the presentations to provide the background on the Yellow Sea Working Group by IUCN, followed by country presentations and updates by RoK, Chinese delegates, and EAAFP presented on behalf of DPRK.
In the afternoon, Dr. Sangjin Lee presented related work by UNDP/Yellow Sea Large Marine Ecosystem (YSLME) Project, on various issues such as fishery ban, marine acidification, etc This large transboundary programme and the YS WG identified areas of cooperation to be further developed in the near future the meeting also invited Mr. Bernard Baerends, Executive Secretary of Common Wadden Sea Secretariat to give an introduction of how the Trilateral Wadden Sea Secretariat works. His presentation highlighted the need for joint cooperation on shared marine ecosystem and provided precious guidance on the process toward the development of joint management and institutions.
The last session of the day focused on revising the draft workplan 2020 – 2022 for the working group and on identifying priority activities for 2020. The proposed action plan for 2020 includes the publication of 2 regional publications on birds surveys and on the status of mudflats in the Yellow Sea, the organisation of a technical workshop on management of spartina in the region and the contribution of the working group to major event happening in 2020 including IUCN World Conservation Congress, Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) COP13 and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP15.
The participants also decided the next meeting would be held in China in March 2020 to initiate the implementation of activities.