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). NOWPAP is part of the Regional Seas Programme of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and was adopted at the First NOWPAP Intergovernmental Meeting (IGM) (Seoul, Korea, September 1994). Four countries -People's Republic of China, Japan, Republic of Korea and Russian Federation- are members of NOWPAP.

Each NOWPAP member state hosts one RAC which is responsible for carrying out individual NOWPAP activities and projects approved by the IGM. 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 also develops tools for environmental planning and management based on the results of the assessment. In this regard, CEARAC is engaged in development of assessment and planning tools, including 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 IGM (Vladivostok, Russia, March 2002), the CEARAC Focal Points Meeting (FPM) was established in order to promote smooth implementation of CEARAC activities. 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.
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 has also been assigned to CEARAC. CEARAC has developed public awareness materials including ' Monitoring Guidelines for Marine Litter on the Beaches and Shorelines ' and held NOWPAP workshops to explore effective countermeasures against marine litter in this region.
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