The Eighteenth NOWPAP CEARAC Focal Points Meeting

The Eighteenth NOWPAP CEARAC Focal Points Meeting

The Eighteenth NOWPAP CEARAC Focal Points Meeting (FPM) was held on 24-25 August 2021. This was the first online CEARAC FPM and there were 12 people joined the virtual meeting including CEARAC focal points from the four NOWPAP member states, representatives of Regional Coordinating Unit (RCU) and Marine Environmental Emergency Preparedness and Response Regional Activity Centre (MERRAC) as well as a representative North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES).

There were two main agendas for the meeting: The first one was reviewing the progress of implementation of CEARAC activities for the 2020-2021 biennium, and the second one was discussion on proposals for CEARAC activities for the 2022-2023 biennium.

At first, CEARAC Secretariat reported the progress of the current activities while focusing on six specific projects: assessment of the distribution of tidal flats and salt marshes; environmental DNA (eDNA) training course; HAB database update; case studies of estimating seagrass blue carbon; 5th training course on remote sensing data analysis; and improvement of NOWPAP eutrophication assessment tool (NEAT). Because of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide, the adoption of NOWPAP activities for the 2020-2021 biennium by the four member states were delayed, resulting in a suspension of implementation of CEARAC activities at the beginning of the current biennium. CEARAC FPM was cancelled in 2020, and the CEARAC FPs agreed the implementation plans of the six projects in September 2020 through e-mail communications. Therefore, most projects were behind schedule as of August 2021, and CEARAC Secretariat was forced to revise the workplans of some projects. Especially for training courses, as there is no clear projection of when free international travel is resumed, the Secretariat proposed postponement of the eDNA training course in the 2022-2023 biennium and organization of a webinar for remote sensing data analysis in December 2021. Including more revisions in other projects, the meeting understood the current situation and adopted the reports of the current work.

Then, the Secretariat presented proposals for CEARAC activities for the 2022-2023 biennium with six projects: pilot studies on significant tidal flats; update of Cochlodinium website; eDNA training course; constructing a seagrass blue carbon network; developing a cloud-based bio-optical database for satellite water quality monitoring; and developing remote sensing data analysis training programs. In addition, CEARAC plans to implement activities on marine litter and organize meetings.

Considering the possibility of prolonged COVID-19 influences on implementation of CEARAC activities for the next two years and increasing online events as well as the importance of strengthening cooperation and avoiding unnecessary duplication of activities among the other RACs and NOWPAP Partners, CEARAC FPs provided guidance on how to refine the draft workplan of the entire CEARAC activities for the 2022-2023 biennium and agreed to submit it to the 24th NOWPAP Intergovernmental Meeting (IGM) to be held in late 2021 virtually.

See the Meeting Report and Documents of the Eighteenth NOWPAP CEARAC Focal Points Meeting.