2nd UN Ocean Decade Regional Conference &
11th WESTPAC International Marine Science Conference
“Accelerating Ocean Science Solutions for Sustainable Development”
Bangkok, Thailand, 22 – 25 April 2024
Scientific sessions provide opportunities to present, share and exchange the latest scientific knowledge, identify knowledge gaps, and, if feasible, explore transformative ocean science solutions for sustainable ocean and livelihoods in the region. All sessions are structured around the following common priority issues of countries in the region. Each session consists of oral and poster presentations.
A special forum will be organized with the UNEP/GEF “Implementing the Strategic Action Programme for the South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand (SCS SAP Project). The forum will give opportunities for the SCS SAP networks to review scientific results and their applications for management, to analyse gaps/challenges and find solutions for the improvement of management effectiveness at the local level, as well as to discuss how local actions and regional/transboundary cooperation could complement each other.
The global oceanic basins feature energetic western boundary currents (WBCs) that redistribute water, heat, salt, nutrients, and living organisms, and exhibit a complex web of physical, biogeochemical, and biological processes along their paths. As a major WBC in the North Pacific, the Kuroshio has been recognized as “hotspots” from the point of view of various oceanic processes including fronts, eddies, and meanders from physical views. These processes have significant impacts on ocean dynamics, air-sea interactions, climate system, and marine ecosystems and resources. This session seeks contributions from observational and modelling studies including, but not limited to, the multi-scale variability and multi-disciplinary aspects of the Kuroshio that span sub-seasonal to multi-decadal and from turbulent to basin scales; their interactions with marginal seas, frontal processes and air-sea interaction; and their contribution to marine biodiversity and productivity. Through the discussions in this session, a more comprehensive and feasible observing strategy and numerical model development route in the next 5-10 years could be expected and implemented.
The Western Pacific Marginal Seas from the Tasman Sea up to the Okhotsk Sea are one of the most affected areas in the global ocean by climate changes and anthropogenic impacts. There have been considerable advances in exploring these seas in recent years. This session would summarize and share the knowledge and experience in water dynamics, biogeochemistry, ecosystem and their variability at multi-scales, and discuss the results of the WESTPAC Asian Marginal Seas project and future research directions. The session seeks contributions from studies including, but not limited to, water mass and current system, ventilation and overturning circulation, internal waves, frontal mixing, strait-exchange flows, biogeochemistry cycles, and the impacts on the variability of pelagic and shelf ecosystems in these marginal seas.
In the past few decades, the global Marine Heat Waves (MHWs) have shown a significant increase trend. From 1925-2016, the frequency and duration of global average MHWs increased by 34% and 17%, and the number of days of global average MHWs increased by 54%. The global MHWs intensity and frequency increased by 65% and 82% respectively from 2000 to 2016 compared with 1982-1998. MHWs are transforming global ocean ecosystems with far-reaching socio-economic impacts.
Exploring their spatio-temporal characteristics and evolution, and developing early warnings and products are critical for ecological conservation, sustainable fishery and aquaculture, and marine disaster prevention and mitigation. This session welcomes presentations on topics including the characteristics and mechanism of Marine Heatwaves, predictability of Marine Heatwaves, its impact and possible countermeasures, and its future trends.
The environmental and climatic conditions from the subarctic Pacific to the tropical Indo-Pacific oceans are complicated, which exerts great effects on the social and economic development of the Asian countries. Information about the environment and climate in the past geological times provides essential contexts for understanding the climate in modern times and predicting its trends in the future. The session is devoted to improving the understanding of the past environmental and climate changes in the Asian Continental Margins. To provide insights into the past ocean environmental and climate changes of the Asian Continental Margins, this session welcomes presentations from a wide range of research based on geological records, historical observations and climate simulation; and aims to highlight the most recent achievements and findings. Contributions will examine the responses, impacts, tele-connections and underlying physical mechanisms of climate features from high to low latitudes at centennial, millennial and orbital timescales, such as sea-ice coverage, North Pacific Intermediate/Deep Water formation and evolution, western boundary currents and Indo-Pacific Warm Pool, etc.
Source-to-sink processes of production, transport, and deposition of sediments and solutes and their responses to rapid climate change is crucial for understanding global material circulation and withstanding natural disasters, and for the creation of a livable environment for human beings. It is regarded as the core content of Ocean Decade Challenges. Being frequently affected by various rapid climate changes, marginal seas in the western Pacific functions as key areas for studying land-sea interaction and sediment source-to-sink processes. This session calls for papers on all aspects of source-to-sink processes in various spatial-temporal scales in the western Pacific and adjacent oceans and responses to rapid climate changes. Influences of human activities on source-to-sink processes are also welcome.
The Indo-Pacific Maritime Continent (IPMC) is recognized for its diverse and strong climate variations. For instance, the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the linked ocean-atmosphere interaction in the tropical Pacific. Another key mode of climate variability is the Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), which is manifested by sea surface temperature anomalies in the Indian Ocean. Furthermore, the climate of the IPMC is influenced by The Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), a tropical weather phenomenon that is distinguished by areas of elevated rainfall and distinct circulation patterns that propagate eastward. Complicated connections and feedback mechanisms among the IOD, ENSO, and MJO for climate variability on the IPMC might have a synergistic effect, increasing the likelihood and intensity of extreme weather occurrences in the affected regions. Understanding these interactions and their possible repercussions is critical for enhancing our ability to foresee and reduce the effects of severe events, contributing to improved disaster preparedness, adaptation measures, and climate resilience.
The Western Pacific is renowned for the world’s richest level of marine biodiversity, with the distribution of various marine species overlapping among neighboring countries. The livelihoods of a significant portion of human population in the region are largely dependent on coastal and marine biodiversity which underpins all fishing and aquaculture activities, as well as other species harvested for food and medicines. Therefore, it is crucial to conserve and sustainably manage our marine biological resources through collaboration among member states in the region. To achieve this goal, it is essential to enhance our knowledge not only of the biodiversity of marine organisms but also of the region-wide distribution pattern of species.
This session aims to feature talks on the biogeography of marine life in the region, conservation and management measures required, and challenges and opportunities for sustainable management on transboundary marine species, to ensure the sustainable use of fishery and other biological resources with an emphasis on collaborations in the region.
Systematics (both comparative morphology and phylogenetics) of marine life play a critical role in this effort, contributing to biodiversity and biogeography research for important societal contributions. This discipline provides framework for identifying, classifying, managing, and naming of species, enabling scientists to study and conserve marine life effectively. This knowledge aids in developing targeted conservation strategies, managing marine resources sustainably, and mitigating the threats posed by human activities. In addition to its scientific significance, systematics has significant societal contributions. Policy makers benefit from accurate species identification and classification, which allows them to develop effective conservation strategies and management plans. Apart from conservation and management plans, the understanding of biodiversity through taxonomy helps quantify the economic value of marine ecosystems and assess ecosystem services. It supports industries reliant on marine resources, such as fisheries, aquaculture, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology. Integrating taxonomic expertise into ocean science initiatives during the UN Decade underpins our efforts of enhancing our understanding of the ocean’s ecosystems, promoting their conservation, and fostering the sustainable use of marine resources to achieve the Decade’s objectives. Hence, this session intends to spur interest and also continue to support the research in systematics and taxonomy of marine life in the western pacific region.
Human-induced climate change has brought multi-dimensional impacts on global and local marine ecosystems. Consequently, tropical coral reefs experiencing extreme environmental fluctuations that threaten their health and survivorship. Decreased of live coral cover has been documented around West Pacific Ocean, however the factors that driving the decrement is still unclear. Besides, coral reefs along the coastal area frequently experience various stressors simultaneously. This proposed session focused on the potential impacts of environmental fluctuations (such as low in pH, oxygen, and salinity) across spatial and temporal heterogeneous the West Pacific Ocean coral reef. Contribution will be welcomed to researchers presenting cross-examination studies on impacts of coral reefs in this region. Moreover, this session also could be a platform to facilitate and create new collaboration to study related questions at the regional level. Understand of the responses to the multiple stressors synergistically elucidate the sustainability of coral reefs in the Anthropocene.
The combination of anthropogenic activities and climate change accelerates the degradation of coral reefs around the world and degrades the quality of ecosystem services that humans and other living things depend on. Resilience-based management (RBM) has become emerging, using knowledge of current and future drivers influencing ecosystem function to prioritize, implement, and adapt management actions that ensure the sustainability of both ecological and social systems. This session will enable scientists, managers, and practitioners to discuss and share their research advancement, experiences, and challenges in a wide range of disciplines as well as innovative strategies to enhance reefs’ resilience to disturbances e.g., reef protection and conservation, connectivity, area-based conservation measures, sustainable utilization, adaptive management, monitoring and evaluation system, social-ecological system, etc. Moreover, the session will enhance collaboration among them to support future activities on coral reef resilience to climate change and human impacts, particularly for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and Global Biodiversity Framework.
Numerous marine species including fish, shrimp and crabs use the mangroves as nurseries in their early life stages. Deposition of mangrove detritus and bacteria provides a huge amount of food for growing youngers and the coppices of the mangrove roots help juveniles hide and avoid predation from larger animals. When they become adults, some move into the adjoining reefs or to the open ocean. Many others including shrimps, crabs, oysters, snails and fish remain as permanent inhabitants within the mangroves and become harvested by human beings. Thus, the aquatic ecosystem of mangroves supports high levels of productivity and biodiversity and supplies sea food to millions of people. In this section, diverse aspects of mangroves’ aquatic ecosystem such as biodiversity, productivity, connectivity to the open ocean, and fisheries will be addressed for a better understanding of the structure, function and benefit of a typical coastal ecosystem in the tropics.
The session aims to provide a platform for researchers and conservationists to share and collaborate on the development of observation/monitoring systems suitable for different marine endangered species, and to explore the application of new technologies, such as environmental DNA (or eDNA), digital imaging and remote sensing, in the study of marine endangered species.
This scientific session will focus on two subjects. 1. Cutting-edge technologies for research and conservation of marine endangered animals (such as new technologies for stereoscopic observation/monitoring, and critical habitat definition);2. Exchanging knowledge of the population status and distribution of marine endangered species, to establish a network through long-term monitoring of habitat conditions and population changes, so that researchers and conservationists can better more specific protection actions in the WESTPAC region.
Pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs), agriculture and mining industries are probably among top sources of marine pollution and contaminants of emerging concerns (CECs) in oceans. Various types of CECs such as PPCPs, oils (PAHs), POPs (e.g. brominated and fluorinated compounds), and metals (especially methyl mercury), and other industrial contaminants will be discussed. The objective of this session is to share the progress of research and innovative solutions for combating marine pollution problems in order to achieve clean ocean by 2030. Focus of the session could range from sources of contaminants, fate (distribution) and effect on marine species from individual to ecosystem levels. The science field could be environmental chemistry, ecotoxicology (including animal behaviour and physiology) and ecological risk assessment as well as modelling of the environmental fate and transport of CECs. Scope of study areas range from laboratory experiment to field observation.
The negative impacts of marine plastic and microplastic pollution on environment, ecosystem, food security, and human health have aroused world-wide attention. While actions are being taken to address tthe global challenge, there is still a need to fill knowledge gaps about the source, transport, fate, and impacts of plastics and microplastics in the ocean. This session would invite scientists and stakeholders to share their research, case studies, policy initiatives, and innovative technological solutions. This session aims to deepen the understanding of this complex challenge and accelerate scientific collaborations, leading to effective strategic development for mitigation and prevention.
Since the mid-20th century, we have witnessed an exponential increase in the number of open ocean and coastal areas suffering from low oxygen conditions. Intriguingly, in the densely populated WESTPAC region, the documented instances of low oxygen conditions and their consequent impacts are surprisingly limited, suggesting a potential underestimation. This forthcoming session is designed with three key objectives in mind: 1) To foster enriching interactions among researchers investigating the diverse facets of deoxygenation; 2) To disseminate and critically analyze studies on deoxygenation conducted in the WESTPAC region; and, 3) To assess the true scale and causes of deoxygenation, particularly in nearshore areas, and to evaluate their probable effects on marine organisms, fisheries, and human communities. Through this session, we aim to heighten our collective understanding of the deoxygenation phenomenon, while seeking mitigation strategies to protect our oceans’ health and the life it supports.
Ocean acidification (OA) is largely the result of the ocean absorbing large quantities of CO2 produced by anthropogenic activities. It has a great negative impact on marine life and ecosystems, and eventually the economy and livelihood. Ocean acidification has became a global concern, as reflected as part of the SDG 14 and the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, both of which called for enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels to inform policies and decisions to minimize and mitigate the impacts of ocean acidification. Currently, there is a lack of information and understanding on the status of OA in the Asia-Pacific region, including its impacts. This session will be an opportunity to bring together researchers and diverse ocean-related stakeholders to share and exchange knowledge on OA, including 1) monitoring, observation, and modeling, 2) ecological and socioeconomic impacts, 3) innovative technology development; and 4) potential collaboration on the research and policy development for the mitigation of OA impacts.
To achieve a safe and healthy ocean, how to mitigate and manage Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) is one of the most pressing issues in the Western Pacific region where people heavily rely on ocean for their livelihood and wellbeings. In this session, we invite presentations illustrating efforts to mitigate and manage HABs. Presentations from both natural science and social science are welcome, which could cover HAB observing tools and technologies, HAB data equitable and accessible, and citizen’s literacy on HABs. Case studies highlighting challenges and lessons learned from HABs mitigation and management are sought.
The ever-increasing expansion of seafood poisoning episodes in the Western Pacific countries not only causes huge economic loss to aquaculture activities, but also poses a threat to human lives. According to some preliminary findings, these poisonings occurred mainly because of the lack of public awareness on seafood safety and appropriate knowledge on potential health risk of toxic organisms. Especially, given that the Ciguatera fish poisoning (CFP) occurs mainly in tropical and subtropical coral areas, there must be many unreported cases in the region due to limited capacity for toxin analysis. The session aims to update current situation about seafood poisonings in the region, exchange related scientific information about marine toxin research and analytical methods, and share experience in lessening poisonings in the region. Therefore, the session welcomes presentations on natural toxins and their occurrence, status of seafood poisonings from marine toxins, and toxin research and analytical methods.
Jellyfish are marine creatures that have been present in the world’s oceans for millions of years. While they are fascinating organisms, some species of jellyfish can cause harmful effects on human health, fisheries, tourism, and coastal ecosystems. The South Asia region, encompassing countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Bangladesh, and Thailand, is particularly susceptible to the impacts of harmful jellyfish due to its extensive coastline and rich marine biodiversity. Therefore, it is crucial to foster collaboration and networking among researchers, scientists, policymakers, and stakeholders working in this field to better understand, mitigate, and manage the harmful jellyfish phenomenon. One hour session will be on taxonomy & ecology and another hour on health.
The Indo-Pacific Ocean is a complex air-sea coupling system, with multi-scale processes from small-scale turbulent mixing to basin-scale circulations. Therefore, it occupies an important position in the global ocean and the climate system. However, there are still tough challenges for understanding the strong air-sea interaction and complex interoceanic dynamics. The development of ocean observing technologies is an urgent demand for increasing people’s knowledge of this area. This session will provide an opportunity to share the latest observing technologies and systems in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, and discuss the major advances and challenges. The new understanding on ocean processes based on these observations are also welcome.
Our coastal ecosystems are deteriorating due to anthropogenic and climatic pressures, with no exception regionally and globally. These disturbances have not only degraded the ecosystem health, including losses of biodiversity, mortality of marine wildlife, frequent occurrences of harmful algal blooms, hypoxia-anoxia, and impact on the socio-economy of coastal communities and public health threats (seafood poisoning). With the advancement of molecular technologies using next-generation sequencing (NGS) such as metabarcoding, the detection of biodiversity changes has become cost-effective and feasible. In this session, papers related to the use of NGS (eg. metabarcoding, metagenomic and meta-transcriptomic analyses, and genome wide association studies) in biodiversity and genetic structure in coastal and offshore waters will be prioritized. The use of NGS in coral ecosystems health assessment (eg. coral symbiont profile analyses) or other molecular approaches (eg. qPCR and ddPCR) in the genetic conservation of marine life are most welcome. Development and optimization of molecular tools in marine biodiversity studies are also within the scope of this sesPachoensuksion.
The ocean is the largest and most important ecological environment on the Earth. Recently, its role as a sink of blue carbon-carbon dioxide captured by the world’s ocean and coastal ecosystems has received increasing attention. However, coastal reclamation, water pollution, plastic waste, and climate change introduced by human activities have been exerting serious impacts on marine ecosystems. In order to maintain a healthy marine ecosystem, it is necessary to accurately grasp the current situation and deploy effective conservation and restoration efforts. In this session, we will discuss the application of satellite and airborne remote sensing to marine and coastal ecosystem monitoring and management. Specifically, we expect presentations on the application of remote sensing to marine habitat monitoring, blue carbon estimation, and marine pollution monitoring.
Critical ecosystem services and resources provided by the deep sea, the ocean below 200m covering about 65% of the global ocean, underline the importance of advancing our knowledge, particularly during the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. The deep sea is largely unexplored; therefore, interdisciplinary research collaborations are critical for the exploration, protection, and sustainable use of the valuable resources. Extreme conditions of the deep sea, characterized by high pressure, no sunlight penetration, and cold temperatures (except in areas with hydrothermal activities), also offer distinctive processes (chemical, biological and geological, etc.) and phenomenon here. We welcome contributions from all aspects that inform active collaborative deep-sea research and initiatives in the WESTPAC region, including deep-sea governance. Contributions from early career ocean professionals (ECOPs) are also highly welcomed.
Gas hydrates are important marine phenomena which significance is growing up from year to year, but still studied poorly in marine expeditions due to the lack of international cooperation. Gas hydrates were found in many areas of the Western Pacific and Indian oceans. Numerous unique gas hydrate accumulations nowadays are object of few focused projects studies in different countries. Nature and evolution of the gas hydrate system in the lithosphere and hydrosphere, which in respect to environmental agent, is one of the most uncertain and debatable problem of World Ocean. Fluxes of methane from the sea bottom are associated with gas hydrates located below surface sediments. Methane fluxes from the marginal seas plays a significant climatic and social role, but remains one of the most debated topics in ocean sciences. This session would summarize and share the knowledge and experience in gas hydrates and methane fluxes in the Indo-Pacific region and is associated with activity of the CoSGas working group of WESTPAC. The session seeks contributions from studies including, but not limited to, gas hydrates and methane fluxes and their impact on climate, ecosystem and socio-economic development in the Indo-Pacific region.
In recent years, the potential of “blue carbon” of seagrasses and seaweeds in the ocean has become increasingly recognized as a sustainable means of capturing carbon for climate change mitigation. This session will discuss frameworks and financial systems to sustain long-term seagrass/seaweed cultivation. We will bring together representatives from the public sector (local and national government), the private sector, civil society, and researchers from various countries including Thailand, Japan, and developing island economies, with the aim to come up with a set of recommendations to expedite the implementation of sustainable blue carbon initiatives across the region.
Recognising that actions were urgently needed to halt degradation of the environment in the South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand, the countries bordering the basin proposed and the GEF supported the UNEP/GEF SCS Project (2002-2008) and then the UNEP/GEF SCS SAP Project since 2018. In parallel with actions on national and regional coordination and cooperation; the SCS and SCS SAP Projects have supported strongly actions at the local level. During the last years following adoption of the Strategic Action Programme (SAP) in 2008, there has existed great efforts from countries to implement the SAP, indicating significant achievements on habitat sustainable use and environment management at the local level.
The special forum, convened by the SCS SAP Project, aims to promote the UN Decade on Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. The forum will give opportunities for the network to review scientific results and their applications for management, to analyse gaps/challenges and find solutions for improvement of management effectiveness at the local level and to exchange good practices in habitat management and land-based pollution control and treatment as well as to discuss how local action and regional/transboundary cooperation could complement each other. The forum will be arranged in different topics, including inter alia: Science and management of MPAs and MPA network, Rehabilitation and resource restoration, Integration of indigenous knowledge in community-based management, Land-based pollution mitigation and treatment, Economic valuation, Engagement of private sector in monitoring and management, Studies on resilience and its implication for management, Blue carbon: local actions for global perspectives