People’s Republic of China, Republic of Korea and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea collaborate to conserve the Yellow Sea

On 11 November 2019, 20 representatives of government agencies and NGOs from Korea and China attended the third Meeting of the Working Group on the Conservation of the Yellow Sea Intertidal and Associated Coastal Wetlands held in Shinan County, the Republic of Korea to share updates and discuss the Working Group’s work plan for 2020-2022.

Group photo of the participants for the 3rd Meeting of the Trilateral Yellow Sea Working Group

The meeting was hosted and funded by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries (MOF), Korea and Shinan County, and facilitated by IUCN, the East Asia- Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) and the Ramsar Regional Center-East Asia (RRC-EA) acting as secretariat for the Working Group.

The People’s Republic of China (PRC), Republic of Korea (RoK) and Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) share the ecosystem of tidal wetlands, associated habitats and rich biodiversity of the Yellow/West Sea. The coastal wetlands in the Yellow Sea are critically threatened by a wide range of pressures. Over 60% of the intertidal wetlands in this region have been lost in the past 50 years.

“This working group is the only platform that involves the three countries of the Yellow Sea/West Sea. It holds a special place within IUCN’s programme in Asia as it significantly contributes to achieving the objectives of the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2016 Resolution 26 on the conservation of the intertidal flats of the Yellow Sea/West Sea and associated migratory birds,” said Mr. Raphael Glémet, Senior Programme Officer, Water and Wetlands, Asia - Natural Resources Group, IUCN Asia, in his opening remarks.

“To conserve and manage coastal wetlands in Korea, we are expanding the designation of coastal protected areas and reinforcing our efforts through ongoing research and monitoring. We hope this meeting can be an opportunity for the three countries of the Yellow Sea to develop cooperation with international organisations,” said Mr. Hyung Min Lee, Deputy Director of Marine Ecology Division, Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, Republic of Korea.  

“Shinan County is committed to the ongoing protection and conservation of the wetlands and tidal flats. We believe that with the support of various international organisations, our efforts will contribute to developing conservation strategies for the Yellow Sea,” said Mr. Seung Jae Ko, Director General, Department of Public Administration and Welfare of Shinan County.

The workshop kicked off with IUCN providing some contextual information about the Yellow Sea Working Group. That was followed by country presentations and updates by RoK and PRC. EAAFP also presented country updates from DPRK.

Dr. Sangjin Lee, Environmental Economist presented the UNDP Yellow Sea Large Marine Ecosystem (YSLME) project, which aims to help PRC, ROK and DPRK restore the Yellow Sea’s natural resources and achieve sustainable ecosystem-based management for future generations.

At the meeting, the UNDP Yellow Sea Large Marine Ecosystem Project (YSLME) and the working group identified areas of future collaborations in the yellow sea. Mr. Bernard Baerends, Executive Secretary of Common Wadden Sea Secretariat also introduced how the Trilateral Wadden Sea Secretariat works.  His presentation highlighted the need for cooperation on the shared marine ecosystem and provided guidance on the process required for the development of joint management and institutions.

The last session of the day focused on the revision of the draft Working Group workplan for  2020 – 2022 . The proposed action plan for 2020 includes the publication of two regional publications on bird surveys and on the status of mudflats in the Yellow Sea and the organisation of a technical workshop on spartina grass management in the Yellow Sea.  

There were also plans for the working group to contribute to major events in 2020, including the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, France and the CBD COP 15 in Kunming, China.  

To conclude the workshop, participants decided that the next Yellow Sea Working Group meeting will be held in China in March 2020. The meeting will focus on the initial steps towards implementing the activities identified in the work plan.

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About the Working Group on the Conservation of the Yellow/West Sea Intertidal and Associated Coastal Wetlands

With the main objective to facilitate common approaches to the protection, restoration, management of transboundary intertidal wetlands between China, DPRK and RoK, the Working Group on the Conservation of the Yellow or West Sea Intertidal and Associated Coastal Wetlands was created during the Yancheng Symposium held in Yancheng, China in December 2017. This is the only existing trilateral platform involving participants from the three countries. The working group is facilitated under the partnership of IUCN, the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) and the Ramsar Regional Center-East Asia (RRC-EA).

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