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ASEAN-China Workshop on Marine Environmental Protection in the South China Sea

Phuket, Thailand
12 July 2018

Article 6 of the 2002 Declaration of the Conduct of Parties (DOC) between China and ASEAN lists the Marine Environment as an area for functional cooperation towards building trust and confidence between the parties.

In line with this, Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment hosted a workshop to address issues of marine pollution and marine debris as well as the effects of search and rescue efforts on the marine environment in the South China Sea.

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Representatives from the ASEAN countries and China

Some 80 participants from ASEAN member countries and China attended. MIMA was represented by Capt. Martin A. Sebastian RMN (R) from the Centre for Maritime Security & Diplomacy and Ms. Cheryl Rita Kaur from the Centre for Coastal & Marine Environment.

The session covered three thematic areas: (i) Severity of marine pollution and current challenges in marine environmental protection in the SCS; (ii) Approaches in addressing challenges in marine environmental protection: Best practices, policy guidance and legal frameworks; and (iii) Search and rescue (SAR): Case studies for marine environmental challenges.

Ms Cheryl addressed marine debris in the region while Capt. Martin’s presentation elaborated on the issues, challenges, and way forward to cooperation on SAR in the region.

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During one of the sessions

Recommendations from the workshop were multi-pronged and included specific emphasis on the need to review existing mechanisms. They included creating synergies among the different platforms on addressing marine environmental protection, formulating standards and guidelines based on best practices, technology transfer, adoption of spatial management tools for ecologically significant areas, data sharing, development of cooperative modalities in regional SAR cooperation, and encouraging involvement from industries and private sectors in the efforts.

MIMA proposed hosting a similar workshops in line with the DOC especially on Search and Rescue and Transnational Crime.

The workshop session included a visit to the Phuket Marine Biological Center which showcases research and conservation efforts at the local and national levels.

MIMA is happy to have contributed at this forum from both the environmental and safety perspectives, and will continue to contribute to enhancing cooperation on related areas at the regional and national levels.

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