Working Group 31: Emerging Topics in Marine Pollution
  • Acronym: WG 31
  • Parent Committee: MEQ
  • Term:
    Jan. 2014 - Dec. 2016
    Extended: Dec. 2016 - 2017 (GC Decisions 2016/S/11)
  • Co-Chairs:
    Olga N. Lukyanova (Russia) (
    Peter S. Ross (Canada) (
    Wonjoon Shim (Korea) (
Mission Statement

Pollution can adversely affect the health and abundance of marine biota, especially in densely-populated coastal areas. The downstream socio-economic consequences can be significant, with numerous examples of consumption advisories, commercial fishery closures, commercial trade interdictions and diminished aboriginal access to food resources around the North Pacific Ocean. The protection of ecosystem health and services requires an ability to detect emerging pollutant issues before serious adverse impacts arise. Regulations, policies and other management actions resulting from marine pollution research in the past have led to dramatic declines in environmental concentrations of a number of harmful pollutants, subsequently improving the health of marine biota.

This Working Group will provide leadership on emerging pollution issues to the PICES community, reporting through the MEQ committee. The WG will: (1) convene a series of timely Topics Sessions and Workshops, and coordinate special issues in international peer-reviewed journals, (2) ensure the continued availability of expertise on marine pollutants within PICES, (3) collaborate with other PICES Expert Groups in co-convening activities or compiling data, and (4) deliver guidance to the FUTURE Advisory Panels (notably AICE and SOFE). This Working Group will be of particular importance in addressing the question identified in the FUTURE Science Plan “How do human activities affect coastal ecosystems and how are societies affected by changes in these ecosystems?

Terms of Reference
  1. Document and profile emerging marine pollution issues in the North Pacific Ocean within the PICES community by:
    • Convening Topic Sessions and workshops on new and emerging pollutants and pollution issues;
    • Coordinating a series of special issues in international peer-reviewed journals based on Topic Sessions.

  2. Compile data on pollution indicators describing spatial and temporal status, trends and impacts in the North Pacific Ocean in support of a contribution to the next edition of the PICES North Pacific Ecosystem Status Report.

  3. Strengthen partnerships to deliver Topic Sessions/workshops and to publish special issues with:
    • Other PICES expert groups, especially those identified in the FUTURE Science Plan;
    • Other international organizations, including the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP), and the North West Pacific Action Plan (NOWPAP).

  4. Contribute to FUTURE by publishing a final report summarizing results of Expert Group deliberations.
Annual Meetings


2016, 2015, 2014

Session and Workshop Summaries

S2, Microplastics in marine environments: Fate and effects

S3, Source, transport and fate of hydrocarbons in the marine environment

S4 Indicators of emerging pollution issues in the North Pacific Ocean
W4 Marine environment emergencies: Detection, monitoring, response, and impacts

S8, Marine debris in the Ocean: Sources, transport, fate and effects of macro- and micro-plastics

PICES Scientific Reports
PICES Sci. Rep. No. 56, 2020
Report of Working Group 31 on Emerging Topics in Marine Pollution
Primary Journals
Special Issue from PICES-2015 Topic Session S4 in Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 73(2), August 2017
Special Issue from PICES-2015 Workshop W4 in Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 73(1), July 2017
Special Issue from PICES-2014 Topic Session S8 in Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 69(3), October 2015
Related Materials

PICES Scientific Report No. 46 (Report of the Study Group on Marine Pollutants)

PICES-2019: S4, The impacts of marine transportation and their cumulative effects on coastal communities and ecosystems

PICES-2012: S6, Environmental contaminants in marine ecosystems: Seabirds and marine mammals as sentinels of ecosystem health

Members as of Oct. 2017