What is Biodiversity?
Biodiversity (biological diversity) means the variety of life including plants and animals on Earth. There are about identified 1.75 million species, and three to 100 million unidentified species on Earth. These species form various kinds of ecosystems in forests, mountains and oceans etc. In each ecosystem, organisms interact each other, including prey-predator interaction and symbiotic relationship etc. Biodiversity also means genetic diversity of each species. Even in the same species, genes' information is different from one individual to another.
In recent years, biodiversity has been lost at very rapid speed, and many species go extinct. To conserve biodiversity is one of the urgent global issues.
Overview of Marine Biodiversity
70% of the surface layer of the earth is oceans, which are essential for all life on the planet. These oceans consist of different areas: coastal areas which are heavily affected by the terrestrial areas; the offshore areas which are clean and beautiful with little influence from the terrestrial areas; and cold and high-pressured deep sea where light does not reach. Different environments are formed and various organisms live in these areas. At present, organizations and research institutes around the world collect information on marine biodiversity; however, the collected information is sufficient and only for very limited areas because of the enormous size of the world oceans.
In 2010, the tenth meeting of the Conference to the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP 10) was held in Nagoya, Japan, and the Aichi Targets were adopted, in which Target 11 says: “By 2020, at least ….. 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes.” The meeting also adopted information collection activities on ecologically and biologically significant areas (EBSAs) for marine life. Thus, it is expected that more activities and programs for conserving marine biodiversity will be promoted globally.
CEARAC started activities on marine biodiversity conservation in 2010 in order to contribute to marine biodiversity conservation in the NOWPAP region. CEARAC has worked on development of a new method for assessing land-based impacts and the conditions of the marine environment and marine life. In the developing process, a pilot study was conducted in Toyama Bay, Japan. However, limitation of available useful information on marine biodiversity in the NOWPAP region was revealed through the pilot study. For accurate assessment of the conditions of the marine environment, it is required to find and harmonize much more information for the future.
Monitoring and Management of Marine Protected Areas in the NOWPAP region (2013)
CEARAC published a report on marine protected areas (MPAs) which compiles basic information on the existing MPAs in the NOWPAP member states, including the laws and regulations stipulating the establishment of MPAs as well as the monitoring programs and management practices employed.
Pilot assessment on the impacts of major threats to marine biodiversity in the selected sea areas in the NOWPAP region (2015)
Concerning impacts by human activities on the marine and coastal environment, CEARAC conducted pilot assessment on the impact of three major threats to marine biodiversity (eutrophication, non-indigenous species and habitat alteration) in the NOWPAP member states.
Assessment of major pressures on marine biodiversity in the NOWPAP region (2017)
While working on a regional report on the pilot assessments of impacts of major threats (eutrophication, non-indigenous species and habitat alteration) on marine biodiversity, CEARAC is preparing another report on assessment of major pressures on marine biodiversity in the NOWPAP region.