The Special Monitoring & Coastal Environmental Assessment Regional Activity Centre (CEARAC) is one of the four Regional Activity Centres (RACs) to carry out individual activities of the Action Plan for the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Northwest Pacific Region (NOWPAP).
Hosted by the Northwest Pacific Region Environmental Cooperation Center (NPEC), CEARAC was established in April 1999 in Toyama, Japan, under auspices of the Ministry of the Environment. Finalization of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with UNEP was made in July 2002, which provides the overall framework for cooperation between UNEP and NPEC.
CEARAC is responsible for coordination of regional activities for assessment of the state of the marine, coastal and associated freshwater environments, including assessment of pollutants input for the purpose of comparison with the monitoring results. CEARAC is also engaged in development of assessment and planning tools such as special monitoring programmes which cannot be covered by routine pollution monitoring, including monitoring of biological effects of pollutants, use of remote sensing for monitoring purposes and use of new monitoring techniques.
Following the Resolution of the Seventh Intergovernmental Meeting of NOWPAP (IGM) (Vladivostok, Russia, March 2002), the CEARAC Focal Points Meeting (FPM) was established in order to promote smooth implementation of CEARAC activities.
The main objectives of the CEARAC Focal Points Meeting are:
- To exchange information to ensure practical implementation of special monitoring and assessment of the marine and coastal environment in the NOWPAP region
- To promote, coordinate and harmonize regional cooperation in the Northwest Pacific region related to special monitoring and assessment of the marine and coastal environment, including eutrophication, marine biodiversity, harmful algal blooms (HABs), remote sensing, marine litter and land based sources of pollution.
At the First CEARAC FPM (Toyama, Japan, February 2003), the establishment of two Working Groups (WG) under CEARAC was approved, aiming to implement its prioritized activities related to coastal environmental assessment and special monitoring as follows.
WG3: monitoring and assessment of Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) including red tides
WG4: remote sensing of the marine and coastal environment
In 2006, NOWPAP started activities on marine litter and part of them have also been assigned to CEARAC. CEARAC focuses on the land-based sources of marine litter and implements various activities.
In recent years, CEARAC has expanded its scope of working areas to eutrophication, marine biodiversity, and has implemented related activities to further understand the state of the marine environment in the NOWPAP region.
Following this expansion, meetings of WG3 and WG4 were jointly held in 2008, and in more recent years, expert meetings are held periodically with experts related to on-going CEARAC activities.