11th WESTPAC International Marine Science Conference

24-27 August 2021, Bangkok, Thailand

“Charting the Course of Ocean Science for a Prosperous Indo-Pacific”

Transformations in the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)

Keynotes & Sessions

Keynotes and sessions, open to all participants, will focus on four main sub-themes: (1) Ocean Processes and Climate Change, (2) Marine Biodiversity, Seafood Safety and Security, (3) Health of Ocean Ecosystem, and (4) Emerging Ocean Science and Cross-cutting Issues.

  • UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and SDG 14
  • Marine heatwave and threats to marine biodiversity
  • Ocean deoxygenation
  • Coral reef resilience
  • Big Data Technology for marine biodiversity research and innovation
  • Marine science policy
  • Harness the power of science for blue economy

Sub-theme A : Ocean Processes and Climate Change

A-01 : Role of Indo-Pacific ocean in climate change and variability


Surrounding the inter-basin warm pools in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, air-sea interaction and time-varying ocean circulations in the Western Pacific, eastern Indian Ocean and marginal seas are critically important for regional and global climate change and variability. This session seeks general contributions of all ocean dynamics and climate topics in the Indo-Pacific, including oceanic circulation variability in the Western Pacific and eastern Indian Ocean from Tropics and Med-latitude, inter-basin interactions, low-latitude western boundary currents (Note: there is also another dedicated session on Pacific Western Boundary Currents), and upper ocean processes and air-sea interactions in the whole range of WESTPAC region, Asia monsoon and marginal sea variations. The session will cover all timescales from diurnal, intra-seasonal, inter-annual to decadal, and climate change trends such as sea level rise. This session intends to provide a general forum for coordinating on-going and planned observational and modeling efforts relating to global and regional climate variations in the Indo-Pacific Ocean, including maritime regions from Indo-China to Australia. Considering active interactions of the Indo-Pacific Ocean with adjacent areas, this session also invites papers on various topics related to both climate simulation and observations over a broader geographic scope; Results from CMIP5 and CMIP6 models will also be an important contribution to this session.

A-02 : Dynamics and variability of Indonesian Throughflow


The Indonesian Throughflow (ITF), the only open pathway for interocean exchange between the Pacific and Indian Ocean basins at tropical latitudes, is an important component of the global overturning circulation. It transports warm, low-salinity waters from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean. Variability and changes of the ITF have significant impacts on regional as well global climate systems. Recent study has revealed decadal and multi-decadal changes of the ITF transport. Meanwhile, coupled GCM model has shown a weakening of the ITF transport. To advance our understanding of the ITF variability and its role on regional and global climate variations, interdisciplinary studies are essential. Thus, this session is designed to assess our current state of understanding and identify the knowledge gaps on these topics. This session invites contributions from observational, modeling and theoretical studies of the ITF dynamics and its role on regional and global climate variability. Contributions are also encouraged from the climate model projection using CMIP5 and CMIP6 models.

A-03 : Pacific Western Boundary Currents: dynamics, variability and its impacts


Owing to the rotation and the spherical shape of the earth, narrow swift currents, called western boundary currents (WBCs), such as the Kuroshio and its extension, Mindanao Current, and New Guinea Coastal Current are formed in western regions of the oceans. The WBCs exhibit complicated branching and recirculation currents features. In addition, substantial mesoscale and smaller scale eddies are always present around the WSCs. The WBC systems are anticipated to play critical roles in climate and ecosystems through transporting and mixing of heat and materials and exchanging them with the atmosphere. In this session, we aim to construct an integrated picture of the WBC systems through discussion from viewpoints of various research fields such as marine physics, biology, and chemistry.

A-04 : Physical and biogeochemical processes in Asian marginal seas


It is very important to understand what happens in the marginal seas and how energy and materials are exchanged between land and ocean through these seas, especially in the face of on-going climate change. Significant changes of the water cycle on land due to changing climate, as well as increasing human economic activities, affect the nutrient transport in coastal areas and structure of the ocean ecosystem. The environmental changes of the marginal seas (including coast and shelf regions), strongly influence material transport and biological structure. This session seeks to exchange information and knowledge on the phenomena in the marginal seas around the countries in the Western Pacific region, and to discuss how a common understanding of physical and biogeochemical processes in the marginal seas can be achieved. We also expect to discuss possible WESTPAC project activities in anticipation of the UN Decade of Ocean Science and Sustainable Development 2021-2030.

A-05 : Past ocean, climate and environments of the Western Pacific


The western Pacific is a region of dynamic climate variations and environmental changes. Climatically, the region is strongly influenced by high-frequency climate variability such as the monsoon, El Nino-Southern Oscillation, and Indian Ocean Dipole; as well as decadal and centennial whose variations that are difficult to understand via limited instrumental records. The region also experiences major environmental changes from societal and economic developments. Past ocean, climate and environmental reconstructions provide baseline information on our changing planet that complementing instrumental records and refining future climate projections. This session invites studies that investigate past ocean, climate and environmental conditions in tropical to subarctic Indo-Pacific region using a wealth of paleo archives (such as but not limited to deep-sea cores, reef-building corals, bivalves), paleoclimate data assimilation and paleoclimate modelling.

A-06 : Sediment source-to-sink process responding to rapid climate change


Understanding source-to-sink processes of production, transport, and deposition of sediments and solutes and their responses to rapid climate change is crucial for the theoretical study of material circulation and climate change and for the creation of a livable environment for human beings. It is regarded as the core content of climate action strengthening our ability to withstand natural disasters in the framework of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. 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 temporal-spatial 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.

Sub-theme B : Marine Biodiversity, Seafood Safety and Security

B-07 : Marine taxonomy, phylogeny and biogeography


The Indo-Pacific region has been well recognized as the hot-spot of global marine biodiversity. Tremendous efforts have been devoted to the assessment of marine biodiversity at the species and population levels, including species richness, genetic diversity, molecular phylogeny and geographic distribution in the region. In addition to traditional taxonomical tools, the advancement of molecular biology and techniques, including the environmental DNA metabarcoding approach, provides a supplementary tool in classification and assessment of marine biodiversity status. This session will provide a scientific venue for researchers and other stakeholders to discuss and exchange ideas in order to better understand the marine biodiversity of their respective areas. The session welcomes studies on taxonomy by either morphologic, molecular or integrated approach; phylogeny; and the relationships between species distribution, species composition changes and physical/geographic conditions. The session also includes studies on the species richness of such organisms as nekton, benthos, and plankton that are closely associated to the most productive part of our coastal habitats (coral reefs, seagrass-seaweed beds and mangroves).

B-08 : Marine biodiversity and impacts of climatic and anthropogenic stressors


The Western Pacific encompassing the Coral Triangle is the epicentre of the world marine biodiversity. Application of recent DNA technology for the study of species identification and taxonomy makes discovery of new species and increases biodiversity, which help understand ecology and evolution of marine organisms. Many local areas in the Western Pacific and deep ocean layers such as mesopelagic, bathypelagic, and abyssopelagic zones still remain to be explored and constitute the sources of new species discovery. On the other hand, climate change, coastal development, and intense marine tourism damage the marine ecosystem and deteriorate its biodiversity. This session covers a wide range of topics on marine biodiversity including genetic, species, and community level biodiversity, biogeography and population structure, impact of climate change and human activities on marine ecosystem and biodiversity, ecology and adaptation of marine organisms, new molecular methods for revealing and measuring biodiversity, and conservation measures.

B-09 : Coral reef resilience, restoration and restocking


Coral reef resilience refers to the ability of the coral reef to resist the change and/or recovery after experiencing a stressful event. Coral reef, along with organisms that living associated with the reefs are threatened by overexploitation, degradation of coastal habitats, and vulnerability to natural disturbances. Moreover, human-induced climate change has brought multi-dimensional severe impacts on the marine ecosystem. This session focus on response and recovery of coral reefs in the Anthropocene. Besides, the impact on other valuable marine resources will also be included in this session. On the other hand, stock restoration or rebuilding through the cultivation of juveniles and release in the wild have been undertaken for reef restoration, species conservation, and fishery stock rebuilding and augmentation. This session is intended to facilitate the sharing of best practices, lessons learned and studies on the ecological, genetic, social, or economic impacts of reef stock restoration initiatives.

B-10 : Fisheries, biodiversity and dynamics of Mangroves’ aquatic ecosystem


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 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 seafood 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.

B-11 : Fishery oceanography for sustainable harvests


Marine fishery plays a very important role in economic development and food supply to the people in this most densely populated region, as the WESTPAC region is a hotspot of marine biodiversity, particularly in terms of fisheries, corals, seagrass and mangrove ecosystems. The oceanic processes affect marine ecosystems and the relationship of these ecosystems to the abundance, distribution and availability of fishery species. With the ever-increasing anthropogenic activities, and climate change, this session will provide an opportunity for fishery scientists, oceanographers, and policy makers to exchange their information and knowledge, advance multidisciplinary research, in order to better understand what drives fluctuation in abundance of fishery species, and to achieve the sustainable fisheries, especially its related SDG goals and the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).

B-12 : Eco-friendly aquaculture


Aquaculture is widely practiced, and about 580 aquatic species are currently farmed all over the world. Aquaculture is expected to satisfy the growing world population’s demand for protein and support the livelihood of coastal people, in an eco-friendly and sustainable way. In Recent years, new eco-friendly aquaculture models, i.e., Integrated Multiple Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA), Marine Ranching, etc., are applied to reduce the environmental pressures. In this session, we would like to invite scientists, private sectors, and policy-makers to share the knowledge, technology, insights, and practices about eco-friendly aquaculture, which will contribute to the fifth societal outcome (A sustainably harvested and productive ocean) of the UN Decade by developing science-based systematic aquaculture, promoting ecosystem-based management, and helping policy-makers and stakeholders in implementing a truly sustainable blue economy, with a focus on the socio-economic aspects of sustainable use of the ocean.

B-13 : Research and conservation of endangered marine megafauna


The WESTPAC region is rich of marine megafauna species, such as dolphins, dugongs, whales, and sea turtles. They play important roles in the ecosystem, yet are highly migratory and subject to intensive human disturbance in the coastal and brackish waters. These impacts and those from natural processes put many of the megafaunas to endangered status. To effectively conserve the endangered marine megafauna, knowledge on their biology, ecology and migration, are highly in need. This session follows the first successful session at the 10th Conference and will contribute to improved knowledge for conservation of marine mammals and sea turtles in the region, by bringing together results of genetic, behavioral and population studies and application of new tools, and further scientific and technological need for the studies. Contributions on other aspects and other groups of endangered marine megafauna are also welcome.

B-14 : Marine toxins and seafood safety


In the Western Pacific, it is recognized that the threat by marine organisms and their toxic products to marine environment and human health may become more serious along with development of coastal resources, and thus require enhancing scientific knowledge to minimize their impacts.

The session would invite presentations to share the concern for seafood safety from various natural marine toxins (ciguatoxins, domoic acid, Paralytic Shellfish toxin). The invited topics can cover toxin occurrence and accumulation in marine organisms, seafood poisonings caused by the toxins and their analytical methods with a view to sharing/exchanging the regional research on seafood safety among scientists to cope with emerging issues of common interest, e.g. transboundary issue concerning the export of toxin contaminated seafood to neighboring countries. The session would invite also presentations on other emerging issues in global oceans including Western Pacific, such as Jellyfish hazards, which pose a threat to public health and interfere with ocean ecosystems.

Sub-theme C : Health of Ocean Ecosystem

C-15 : Fate and effects of industrial and agricultural pollutants on tropical marine ecosystems


Industrial and agricultural pollutants are mostly persistent contaminants which are found in coastal ecosystems. Coastal waters in the Western Pacific region, particularly Southeast Asia are particularly at risk because of silent industrial and agricultural pollution. The session objective is to bring all researchers, graduate students and managers to present and share their work on all of aspects of industrial and agricultural pollution. Fate and effects of the pollutants especially oils, heavy metals, pesticides, pharmaceutics on marine species or ecosystem will be accepted. The session will also cover the area of ecotoxicology, bio-indicators, modelling, and ecological risk assessment as well as remediation technology of the pollutants in marine ecosystems.

C-16 : Source, fate and impacts of marine plastics and microplastics


It is estimated that about 5-13 million tons of uncontrolled plastic waste are discharged into the marine environment from land river sources every year, scattered in large water bodies of the wider ocean, or locked in seabed sediments or marine organisms through the marine water body. In fact, we now know that plastic debris and microplastics (< 5 mm) and smaller scale plastic particles reach all areas of the ocean, from the deepest ocean trenches to the coastal waters around the ice sheet poles. However, the source, fate and transportation of these plastics and microplastics into the ocean are largely unknown, and there is little understanding of how these plastics and microplastics are changed by physical and biochemical processes once they entered the ocean. Since 2017, the IOC WESTPAC has established the first regional program on marine plastics and microplastics to carry out research and monitoring works, including harmonizing the monitoring methodology, assessing the ecological impacts. Up to now, IOC WESTPAC has hold three workshops and greatly promoted the regional understanding of marine plastics and microplastics on above questions. This session will further exchange recent research progresses, discuss the future work direction on marine plastics and microplastics, and enhance further cooperation among scientists from our member states through this meeting.

C-17 : Deoxygenation in coastal and open ocean: development, status, and impact


Deoxygenation is an ongoing process in the coastal and open ocean resulting from two anthropogenic stressors – CO2-induced warming which affects the entire globe, and increasing nutrient loads resulting from human activities, including finfish aquaculture and land-based agriculture. In addition, upwelling can bring deep water that is low in oxygen but high in nutrients towards nearshore areas. The number of open ocean and coastal areas reporting low oxygen conditions has risen exponentially since the mid-20th century. However, identified areas of low oxygen conditions and their impacts in the densely populated WESTPAC region are fewer than would be expected, and are likely, underestimated. The session aims to 1) facilitate interactions among researchers studying various aspects of deoxygenation, 2) share and review deoxygenation studies conducted in the WESTPAC region; and 3) identify the extent and causes of deoxygenation especially in nearshore areas and their possible impacts on marine organisms, fisheries, and people.

C-18 : Ocean acidification and its impacts on marine ecosystems


Ocean acidification, a phenomenon initiated when ocean waters take up anthropogenic CO2, reflects a decrease in ocean water pH, which in turn has direct and indirect impacts on ocean life and habitats. Changes brought about by acidification will ultimately affect the many services the ocean provides to humanity. Currently, there is still lack of information and status of ocean acidification in Asia-Pacific including its impacts on marine ecosystem. This session will provide a platform for researchers to share and exchange knowledge on monitoring and observation, experimental and ecological impacts, modelling, emerging new technologies and innovation and socioeconomic impacts. Ocean acidification is part of SDG-14 (2015-2030) and the upcoming UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030) which emphasize on translating science for policy makers and managers. This link is important to serve the needs of society and country. This session is a good opportunity for such discussion.

C-19 : Harmful algal blooms under the changing climate


Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) cause deleterious effects by contaminating shellfish, massively kill cultured finfish, and alter the function of aquatic ecosystems. Impacts of HABs on socio-economy and public health have been well recognized in WESTPAC region. Areas affected by HABs have been expanding over the past decades, involving emerging species with greater intensity and frequency. Moreover, algal-related fish kill events have hindered sustainable development of the rapidly growing aquaculture industry. In this proposed session, researchers are invited to share their research findings covering all aspects of HABs, spanning the taxonomy and biogeography of harmful species, ecology and physiology, molecular genetics, HABs transboundary issues, remote sensing and oceanography, advancement in HABs modelling and early warning system, and way-forward for future HABs research in the region. Emerging and trends of HAB events (species, occurrence, frequency) in all member states will be the topic of interest in this session.

C-20 : Harmful jellyfish research and monitoring


The status of jellyfish invasion in WESTPAC countries is increasing and the cases of jellyfish stungs reported had risen in particularly Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Although there is no formal report or scientific research describing the relationship between the fishery and jellyfish bloom, jellyfish has brought havoc on the tourism industry, in particular those states, which promote beaches as their tourism attraction. Many of the countries in WESTPAC region was alerted when numerous reports were made by tourists concerning the jellyfish sting. Some countries have started reporting on fatality stung by a box jellyfish. With all these concerns, clarification of the mechanism of jellyfish blooms and the effects of environmental conditions on jellyfish abundance are indispensable for forecasting and regulation of the bloom. The presence of a particular jellyfish species is also vital to be identified as some possess fatal venomous sting. Therefore, there is a need to share information and establish collaborations among the WESTPAC countries or partners to look into the jellyfish research and aim to fill up the knowledge gaps in terms of research, capacity building and awareness.

Sub-theme D : Emerging Ocean Science and Cross-cutting Issues

D-21 : Ocean observing technology and systems in the Indo-Pacific : major advances and challenges


Combinations and interactions among ocean phenomena cause significant climate variability over and around the Indo-Pacific Ocean. Tremendous efforts have been made over the last decades with significant advances in real time-monitoring (remote sensing and in-situ measurement), ocean modeling, ocean data assimilation, and high-performance computing to address the ocean phenomena in the Western Pacific region. This session intends to provide a general forum for coordinating on-going and planned observational and modeling efforts relating to global and regional climate variations in the western Pacific and eastern Indian Ocean region, including maritime regions from Indo-China to Australia, review the various ocean observing technologies over the Western Pacific region, share the experience and lessons learned from a wide range of observations and how to sustain ocean observing in the future, identify future opportunities for collaboration among WESTPAC members, and improve the data acquisition ability, review the progress on ocean standards and best practice related to the data processing and QC; exchange view and discuss about future direction of oceanographic data and information management and service in the region.

D-22 : Ocean remote sensing technology development and application


Coastal and marine areas providing important ecosystem services must be managed for realizing sustainable development. Increasing population is creating severe stress on coastal and marine environments through anthropogenic activities including global warming. This session aims to exchange experiences on use of the maps produced by remote sensing for sustainable development of marine areas. The session will focus on coastal habitat mapping and its temporal-spatial changes, and satellite ocean color observation for coastal and open ocean studies. The sessions invites all studies on 1) coastal habitat mapping with new methods and technologies, 2) multidisciplinary studies dealing with ocean color in the coastal waters and open ocean such as nutrient dynamics and enrichments, primary and fisheries productions, red tides, marine food webs, acidification, hypoxia, etc. Models and in situ observations related to ocean color are also welcome.

D-23 : Ocean and climate model development and application


“A Predicted Ocean” is one of six social outcomes of UN Decade of ocean science for sustainable development. This session will provide information for the roadmap of the Decade, and welcome the following talks and posters: (1) The observation and research on key processes of ocean and climate models; (2) The development of ocean and climate models including but not limited to physical models, biogeochemical models, fishery models, and sediment models; (3) Different applications of ocean and climate models such as ocean and climate prediction, oceanic oil spill, search and rescue etc.

D-24 : Deep sea exploration in the Western Pacific: past, present and future


The Western Pacific region are characterized by the open ocean, deep marine waters and tectonic zones. This region is well known as a hotspot of world marine biodiversity, which leads to highly dynamic sea-food industries. However, busy marine transports and recently intensified open-ocean minings make this region vulnerable to anthropogenic pressure that could affect the sustainability of its deep-sea ecosystem. In this session, we seek to bring together research that improves our understanding of the West Pacific deep-sea ecosystem under past, present and future climate scenarios. We invite contributions from all areas relating to deep-sea studies in the West Pacific region, covering, but not limited to, studies in biodiversity, natural and/or man-made hazards, environmental survey, exploration of marine resources, and technological development of deep-sea observation.

D-25 : Science for marine protected areas


Scientific studies and its applications are important tools towards achieving effective MPA management. These will aid in realizing MPA objectives on biodiversity conservation, fisheries management (e.g., refugia, tourism, navigation of particularly sensitive areas, restocking or recovery of depleted marine resources, etc.) and education. This session proposes to accept papers on MPA from various fields of sciences as well as sustainable livelihoods of communities and learning experiences of MPA practitioners. This session also highlights adaptive management and learning opportunities of MPA to MPA network in the WESTPAC region.

D-26 : Ecosystem-based marine spatial planning


Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) has been incorporated into legal and institutional mechanisms of marine states in Asian region. Regional entities including IOC-WESTPAC, COBSEA, PEMSEA and LME management bodies also have been recognizing MSP as a vehicle for sustainable development of coastal and marine areas. In parallel with the MSP sprouting-out, our society has paid attention on the integrity of marine ecosystem and its contribution to human well-being (ecosystem services) since the mid-1990s. Challenging issue for more advanced MSP is to mainstream marine ecosystems and their services in marine spatial policy regime, which can be called ecosystem (services)-based marine spatial planning. Many states and entities tried to adopt the ecosystem-based management into their policy, and successful cases in EBM application are very limited. We will share on-going efforts for ecosystem-based MSP in our region, and identify future research and policy agenda for more advanced MSP. The outcome of the session is expected to strengthen science-policy integration in terms of sustainable development in coastal and marine areas.

D-27 : Marine social-ecological Systems Thinking: from ecosystem services perspectives


Marine Ecosystem Services(MES) which link ecosystem state and human well-being are one of the most important languages of social-ecological systems thinking. In theory, MES are a vital component of Ecosystem-Based Management underpinning sustainable Blue Economic growth. In practice, large-scale assessment of ecosystem services concepts in sea and ocean are generally limited to the supply side and tend to focus on single MES. Critically, assessments lack: i. consideration of human demand; ii. comprehensive and integrated assessment of all MES; iii. uptake in policy and management of ocean industries and activities. This session, therefore, welcomes not only the methodological studies and cases of MES assessment, but also the quantitative and qualitative contributions from any discipline which help to incorporate ecosystem services into marine governance and regional economic development.



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