IOC Sub-Commission

for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC)


2010-2012 Activities

During 2010-2012, this project has been carried out mainly through four meetings, which include two workshops for strategic discussion and the other two meetings for capacity building. The latter two were organized jointly with the WESTPAC-TMO (Toxic Marine Organisms) project.


V-1-1 Workshop “Necessity of a New Structure for New Activities” held in 2011

A workshop entitled “Necessity of a new structure for new activities” was held on 29 March 2011 as one of the workshops during the Eighth IOC/WESTPAC International Scientific Symposium with more than 50 participants. Dr. Yasuwo Fukuyo started the workshop through explaining current condition of HAB occurrences, importance of additional efforts on various scientific topics, and strengthening the project by reformation.

After having all presentations the workshop recognized that HAB problems in the WESTPAC Region become serious, as we have more varieties of harmful event types such as PSP, DSP, ASP and ciguatera, wider distribution of HAB causative organisms, and more severity in terms of case number of events and patients. The workshop also noticed that the Region shares same HAB problem in areas of similar environmental condition by similar mechanism (eutrophication, upwelling, organism transport, etc.).

Participants suggested various topics good to formulate new study groups. These includes red tides species such as Prorocentrum spp. Cochlodinium polykrikoides, and Chattonella spp. and toxic species such as Pyrodinium bahamense, Gymnodinium catenatum, Alexandrium spp. Dinophysis spp. Pseudo-nitzschia spp. and Nitzschia navis-varingica. Dr. Fukuyo explained steps to create a new project in WESTPAC, and among the steps he mentioned that the acquisition of support from host states was most important. Finally he proposed the following three different structures for strengthening HAB research activity:

1. Keep the current WESTPAC-HAB as one project and reform host state condition from Single-host to Multi-host

2. Reform the current WESTPAC-HAB from single project to multi-projects with keeping WESTPAC-HAB as an umbrella of the multi projects for coordination among the projects

3. Reform the current WESTPAC-HAB from single project to multi-projects style with dissolving the WESTPAC-HAB

Participants anonymously agreed to keep the current WESTPAC-HAB, but recognized difficulty to make it to multi-states host project. Considering that project development was highly depending on capacity and scientific interest of project leaders, and also that there were several scientists from member states who could develop HAB science following priorities of the state needs, participants noticed that there was high possibility to establish new projects which could be affiliated with WESTPAC-HAB in near future. Dr. Dao Viet Ha, the leader of WESTPAC-TMO, showed an example of the future structure to maximize capacity of scientists. After extensive discussion, participants considered it difficult to reach conclusion, as some important Japanese members were absent, and it necessary to continue the discussion at next workshop.

Discussion was made on outreach materials in which mechanisms of HAB occurrence was explained in a comprehensive format understandable for children and local folks. Participants agreed to contribute to make it, and Fukuyo suggested to make a prototype by the next workshop.

V-1-2 Workshop “Necessity of a New Structure for New Activities” held in 2012

A workshop entitled “Future HAB research and study” was held from 15 to 17 March 2012 at Institute of Oceanography, Vietnam. Fourteen participants from 9 countries including China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Russia and Vietnam, joined the workshop. Eleven of them are steering group members of HAB projects. Travels of participants were supported by Japan Fund in Trust to UNESCO and Asian Natural Environmental Science Center of the University of Tokyo.

The workshop focused on (1) overview of the achievements of the WESTPAC-HAB; (2) selection of a new leader; (3) future activities of WESTPAC-HAB group.

The workshop recognized that there was remarkable progress of HAB science in the region after its establishment in 1991, and the science covers wide aspects such as taxonomy, ecology, physiology and toxin chemistry. Although with greater scientific understanding in development and management of HAB, human poisoning cases caused by contaminated seafood of algal origin toxins and massive fish mortality events by harmful algal blooms keep recurring in the region.

Steering group members expressed their appreciation to the strong leadership of Dr. Yasuwo Fukuyo on capacity building through series of regional and local training courses and various collaborative field and laboratory studies. Lesson that the collaborative effort is a key factor for success of regional WESTPAC project was well recognized. Continuous support from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Science, and Sport of Japan Government was also acknowledged.

The group considered the importance of continuation of the project with a new leader is critical for further development of the project, and anonymously elected Dr. Mitsunori Iwataki, an associate professor of Yamagata University, Japan as the new leader. He accepted the selection and cordially asked continuous and kind support to the project to steering group members.

Various potential future activities were discussed. A strategic workshop to review current HAB condition in the region and to discuss future collaborative activities had the first priority, and the leader and members will seek possibility to have it in conjunction with the 15th International Conference on Harmful Algae to be held in Changwon, Korea on 29 October – 2 November 2012. Production of outreach material for local folks was also discussed, and Dr. Rhodora Azanza, Professor of the University of the Philippines, agreed to prepare the drafts of outreach materials.

Participants of the workshop were as follows, and almost all of them are agreed to be members of project steering group for 2012-2013.
1. Dr. Songhui Lu (Jinan University, China)
2. Dr. Chengchu Luib(Shanghai Ocean University, China)
3. Ms. Hikmah Thoha (Indonesian Institute of Science, Indonesia)
4. Dr. Yasuwo Fukuyo (University of Tokyo, Japan)
5. Dr. Mitsunori Iwataki (Yamagata University, Japan)
6. Dr. Chan Kyu Lee (National Fisheries Research and Development Institute, Korea)
7. Dr. Po-Teen Lim (Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Malaysia)
8. Dr. Rhodora Azanza (University of the Philippines, Philippines)
9. Dr. Tatiana Morozova (Russian Academy of Science, Russia)
10. Dr. Thaithaworn Lirdwitayaprasit (Chulalongkorn University, Thailand)
11. Dr. Dao Viet Ha (Institute of Oceanography, Vietnam)
12. Dr. Nguyen Van Nguyen (Research Institute of Marine Fisheries, Vietnam)


V-2-1 Training Course “Taxonomy and Ecology of the Diatom Pseudo-nitzschia” held in 2011

The training course entitled “Taxonomy and ecology of the diatom Pseudo-nitzschia” was held on 20-24 March 2011 at the Faculty of Resource Science and Technology, University Malaysia Sarawak, Kota Samarahan, Malaysia. The course was jointly organized with IOC/WESTPAC TMO project, having financial support from Japan Fund in Trust to UNESCO and Asian Natural Environmental Science Center of the University of Tokyo. Five lecturers from Denmark, Japan, Malaysia and Vietnam and 13 trainees from seven countries including China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. This activity was recognized as the First HAB and TMO joint training course.

The objectives of the training course are to (1) enhance capacity for dealing with HAB issues; (2) strengthen regional network and collaboration in HABs research; and (3) standardize scientific approaches in Pseudo-nitzschia identification. In the training course, recent research activities on ASP (Amnesic Shellfish poisoning) events and their causative organisms, Pseudo-nitzschia spp., were explained in details through a series of lectures by world-known experts. Practical sessions for morphological observation using electron microscopy were also designed to provide hand-on experience to trainees. The course gave a platform for exchange information and research collaborations.

V-2-2 Training Workshop “Immunological Method for Detection of Domoic Acid in Plankton and Shellfish” held in 2012

The Second IOC/WESTPAC-HAB and TMO Joint Training Workshop on “Immunological Method for Detection of Domoic Acid in Plankton and Shellfish” was held at the Institute of Oceanography, Nha Trang, Vietnam from 19 to 22 March 2012. 15 people from eight countries including China, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Russia and Vietnam, participated in the workshop. The training course is focused on followings:
1. To promote research activities on toxic diatom and their toxin, domoic acid through lectures on: 1) biology and ecology of HABs, 2) biology and ecology of diatom Pseudo-nitzschia (domoic acid producers), 3) marine toxin chemistry and methods to detect marine toxins such as domoic acid, and 4) principal of immunological assay (ELISA).
2. To provide hands-on experiences on procedure of ELISA to detect domoic acid in plankton and shellfish.


V-3-1 Development of HAB Science in the Region and Contribution of HAB Project

As outgoing leader of the project who kept the position for 20 years, Dr. Fukuyo reviewed the development of the WESTPAC-HAB Project at the strategic meetings. The development interrelated to that of the IOC global HAB program and occurrence and spreading HAB events along with the utilization of coastal marine areas for aquaculture and other industries.

He explained that the IOC/WESTPAC Sub-Commission was established in 1989 and the WESTPAC-HAB project was created at its First Session in 1990, having Dr. Tomotoshi Okaichi, a professor emeritus of Kagawa University, Japan as the leader. As Prof. Okaichi was elected the President of Kagawa University and felt difficulty in devoting himself to the project, he passed the leadership to Dr. Fukuyo at the Second WESTPAC Session held at Bangkok, Thailand in 1993.

Dr. Fukuyo reviewed that HAB events had occurred in the region from 1970s and became serious in 1980s in terms of case number and amounts of economic losses. Toxic plankton bloom events caused many poisonings with mortality of more than 200 cases in official reports, and additional many hidden cases. HAB occurrence started sporadically, but expanded its distribution rather quickly along with natural and anthropogenic mechanisms.

One of the most important achievements of the WESTPAC-HAB Project has been the production of a number of reference materials for research, monitoring and management of the more common HABs in the region. These materials have been distributed specially during the trainings conducted for the project and other HAB national, regional and global projects.

From 1993 to the present there have been a significant number of training courses undertaken through the auspices of the WESTPAC-HABs at the local and regional levels with participants from WESTPAC region. There were also more than 20 local workshops/ trainings conducted in various member states in the region. Dr. Fukuyo also emphasized that more than 30 young scientists participated the capacity building activities became the leader of HAB science and management in their home states. More than 10 Ph.D. students successfully earned their degrees with thesis, parts of which were outcome of collaborative field and laboratory studies. There were more than 100 scientific publications by its members who attended the project trainings and workshops. Through implementation of the WESTPAC-HAB project activities, especially its capacity building activities, capacity of science on HABs are established, although there are still many subjects remaining untouched.

V-3-2 Current Status of HAB Occurrence in the Region

Occurrences of HAB events and causative algae and research topics on them were reported at all meetings mentioned, and it was summarized as follows at the strategic workshop held in 2012 (refer to V-1-2):

CHINA: Prof. Lu Songhui of Jinan University showed that HAB incidence increased during the last 3 years, but HAB affected areas decreased together with smaller economic impact. The green tide caused by a macrophyte Ulva prolifera in vast areas of the Yellow Sea remains to be further investigated through more studies in order to cope with this recurring event. He also mentioned that Cochlodinium blooms expanded from Southern China to East China. A Synechococcus like organism bloomed and caused a brown tide since 2009 and currently being further studied.

INDONESIA: Ms. Hikmah Thoha of the Research Center for Oceanography (RCO-LIPI) reported that there was an increase in the type of HAB causative organisms during the last three years. Pyrodinium toxic blooms were recorded in Lampung in Sumatra, Kao Bay in Halmahera and several areas, i.e., in previously affected and newly affected sites. Noctiluca also caused fish killing events. The government has also given priority for training and production of information materials for the laymen aside from the enhancement of HAB monitoring for effective management.

JAPAN: Dr. Yasuwo Fukuyo gave a summary of the HABs in Japan. Recently there has been an overall decrease of HAB incidence in the country with the smallest number (71) recorded in 2011. Fish mortality due to red tides was the main negative impacts with no record of poisonings. Seto Inland remained to be affected by red tides. Shellfish collected from the Sanriku coast where was affected by the recent tsunami showed high Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) toxin levels, although there were no reports of poisoning. Records show that as early as 1961 a PSP case was reported one year after a tsunami originated by earthquake in Chile attack to the area. Therefore it is worried that high toxicity caused bloom of Alexandrium tamarense may give harmful consequence to recovering of shellfish aquaculture from the damage of tsunami. Whether the recent tsunami negatively impacted the environment and in part affected the phytoplankton composition, remain to be further studied, Dr. Fukuyo also showed a video of a past Ciguatera Fish Poisoning (CFP) event in Japan, noting expansion of CFP causative organisms. Benthic organisms remain to be one of the main HAB studies in Japan.

REPUBLIC OF KOREA: Dr. Chang Kyu Lee of the National Fisheries Research and Development Institute (NFRDI) showed the pattern of Cochlodinium blooms which affected fish aquaculture in Korea for many years up to about 2007. In 2008 and 2009 there were low scale blooms without fish kill, and 2010 to 2011 there were no bloom and no fish kill. Low salinity could have been one of the major factors involved, a hypothesized by those studying the HABs in the area. Recently research on benthic dinoflagellate was undertaken; Gambierdiscus sp., Ostreopsis sp., Prorocentrum lima and Coolia sp. were collected in Jeju Island and now the subject of several studies.

MALAYSIA: Dr. Lim Po Teen of University Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) reported Pyrodinium was found for the first time in the middle part of Malacca Strait. He also reported recurrence of Ceratium furca discoloration in the northern part of Malacca Strait. Several new records of occurrences of Alexandrium and Pseudo-nitzschia were documented. A regional WESTPAC-HAB training course, i.e. the First WESTPAC-HAB and -TMO joint Training Course on Pseudo-nitzschia, was hosted by UNIMAS with participations from 8 countries. The country will host a training course on benthic dinoflagellates through Benthic GEOHAB program in May this year.

PHILIPPINES: Dr. Rhodora Azanza of the Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines (UPMSI), reported 15 areas were affected by Pyrodinium blooms in the last 3 years based on the monitoring done by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). Other PSP causative organisms include Alexandrium spp. and G. catenatum. HAB researches in affected areas showed the seasonality of recurrence of these species. Fish kills in aquaculture cages were the major problems in Borinao, Luzon Island for the last 3 years. Ciguatera Fish Poisoning is also an important concern for studies and possibly monitoring in future. Outreach materials prepared by UPMSI and BFAR helped enhanced the management together with massive public education. The UPMSI PHILHABS project was implemented with a second phase beginning this year.

RUSSIA: Dr. Tatiana Morozova from A. V. Zhirmunsky Institute of Marine Biology, FEB RAS reported the monitoring program in Vladivostok and observed the increasing number of HABs in the last 30 years. Heterosigma akashiwo had a significant bloom in the area in 2010. Ostreopsis spp. in high density co-occurring with some other benthic dinoflagellates was first recorded in the area in 2008. The bloom started after a period of high water temperature (>20ºC). The toxicity of clonal cultures of Pseudo-nitzschia pungens were also detected by ELISA. Okadaic acid was also found in mussels Mytilus trossulus and Crenomytilus grayanus from Peter the Great Bay.

THAILAND: Dr. Thaithaworn Lirdwitayaprasit of Chulalongkorn University shared that “Fish kills” associated with Noctiluca and Ceratium still occurred in Gulf of Thailand especially in 2010 and 2011. Dinophysis blooms co-occurring with Ceratium furca was observed in Tachin River mouth. Low toxicity was detected in natural samples of Gymnodinium catenatum by ELISA. At Phuket Island, a Noctiluca bloom coinciding with a Dictyota (brown alga) and Ulva (green alga) bloom was documented.

VIETNAM: Dr. Nguyen Van Nguyen of Research Institute of Marine Fisheries (RIMF) presented the HAB trends in Vietnam. He reported few toxic events in the country but more fish kill events caused by Phaeocystis sp. and Ceratium furca. Aquaculture industry in Halong Bay was affected by fish kill. Recurrence of Phaeocystis sp. need to be monitored and it is importance to compare the ecological characters of the same species found in China. Dr. Dao Viet Ha reported marine biotoxins have been monitored in Haiphong since 2004 and toxicity levels were above safety limits. There has been no report of any type of marine biotoxin related human poisoning in Vietnam. A discussion on bivalve accumulation of marine biotoxin followed.

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