Coastal Ecosystem Health Assessment in Korea: Busan Case Study

  • Young Ok KimEmail author
  • Won Joon Shim
  • Seung Ho Baek
  • Jin-Woo Choi
  • Dongseon Kim
  • Hyun-Woo Choi


As a pioneering effort to assess the health of marine ecosystems in Korea, coastal ecosystem components were monitored in the Busan coastal area from 2013 to 2015. Pelagic ecosystem assessment focused on eutrophication and plankton communities in surface waters. For benthic ecosystem assessment, sediment environments with regard to toxic organic compounds and heavy metals as well as benthos communities were investigated. Preestablished indicators and criteria based on the relationships between chemical pressures and biological responses were applied to the assessment. Water and sediment qualities and community health of plankton and benthos were expressed in their respective individual indices and finally integrated into a holistic health index or score. From observation across the three-year study period in the Busan coastal waters, water quality index and plankton health index were assessed as “Fair” or “Good”. Sediment quality index was “Very poor” or “Poor” inside harbor areas such as Busan North Port, Busan South Port, Gamchun Port, and Dadaepo Port. Benthic pollution index evaluating the health status of macrobenthic communities also exhibited an unhealthy condition in the harbor areas. The annual health map of the Busan coastal ecosystem was consecutively updated from 2013 to 2015 to provide scientific information on unhealthy spaces and indicators in the Busan coastal area. The annual health maps displayed a hot spot of ‘Poor’ grade in the Busan South Port. Therefore, it is suggested that the top priority for the Busan coastal ecosystem management should be paid to the hot spot to restore the ecosystem health of the Busan coastal waters by especially focusing on the benthic ecosystem. Future coastal management should focus on the mitigation of problematic factors and should be connected to and provide feedback to the health assessment results of the Busan coastal area.


Busan coastal waters coastal ecosystem health assessment ecosystem health index coastal management coastal pollution 


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Copyright information

© Korea Institute of Ocean Science & Technology (KIOST) and the Korean Society of Oceanography (KSO) and Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Young Ok Kim
    • 1
    Email author
  • Won Joon Shim
    • 2
  • Seung Ho Baek
    • 2
  • Jin-Woo Choi
    • 2
  • Dongseon Kim
    • 3
  • Hyun-Woo Choi
    • 4
  1. 1.Marine Environment and Climate Research Division, KIOSTBusanKorea
  2. 2.Risk Analysis Research Center, KIOSTGeojeKorea
  3. 3.Marine Environmental Research Center, KIOSTBusanKorea
  4. 4.Ocean Data Science Section, KIOSTBusanKorea

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