The report shows that fisheries and vital ecological services are collapsing and ecological disasters increasing, with resulting impacts on human livelihoods. Migratory waterbird species along the flyway are showing exceptionally rapid declines. These declines are linked mainly to the disappearance and degradation of migratory staging posts, rather than problems on the breeding or wintering grounds.
The report identified 16 key areas along the flyway (from an analysis of 388 East Asian flyway sites with tidal flats used by waterbirds of the EAAF), with six of these in the Yellow Sea (including the Bohai Sea). Here, the most pressing threat is the fast pace of coastal land reclamation (defined as conversion of natural wetland into dry land and artificial wetland by mechanical means). Remote sensing and geographical information system (GIS) analyses show mean losses of 35% of intertidal habitat area across the six key areas of the Yellow Sea since the early 1980s. Losses of such magnitude are likely the key drivers of declines in biodiversity and ecosystem services in the intertidal zone of the region.
As well as these critical areas, many other sites are used by particular species as they move north or south on migration, or throughout the non-breeding season, and also need protection as part of a critical site network.