Pacific has a stake in ocean activities

As large ocean states, we in the Pacific have a vital stake in what happens to the ocean, Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President of USP said.

He made the comment during the Ocean Acidification Measuring and Monitoring Dinner on 2 November, 2017 at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva, Fiji.

USP, through the Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development (PaCE-SD), is hosting three Ocean Acidification workshops facilitated by Washington, DC-based NGO, The Ocean Foundation, for local, regional and international participants.

Professor Chandra said the workshops indicated “how we can develop these kinds of partnerships that can address a very significant problem that affects the ocean”.

One of the things he had learnt at the recent UN Oceans Conference, he said, was how little people knew about our oceans, particularly in the scientific area and how important it is to collect data, and analyse it for policy-making and action.

”As a university that serves the region, it is the responsibility of USP to identify partnerships that provide solutions, that build capacity and create networks. We are an interesting example of an international or regional university, owned by 12 countries, spanning a large area of 33million square kilometres in 14 campuses and having 30, 000 students,” he noted.

USP, he said, is seen as the most successful example of regional cooperation and the most financially viable of regional organisations.

”We are in a way not a traditional university because a good deal of our work goes as part of the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP),” Professor Chandra stated.

Her Excellency Judith Cefkin, United States Ambassador to Fiji said ocean acidification poses a threat to ocean ecosystems and could have profound impacts on the food security, economy, and culture of communities in the Pacific Islands and around the world.

“More data is needed to improve global understanding of this phenomenon and better equip us to address the issue,” she stated.

She confirmed that to this end, the U.S. Department of State has partnered with The Ocean Foundation to build capacity for ocean acidification monitoring and expand the coverage of the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON).

“This week’s workshop is the result of a successful collaboration of many parties, including the U.S. Department of State, The Ocean Foundation, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Swedish International Development Agency, the International Atomic Energy Association’s (IAEA) Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre, the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Programme (SPREP), and Sunburst Sensors,” H.E Cefkin said.

Ms Alexis Valauri-Orton, Programme Manager, The Ocean Foundation, said ocean acidification is a lot like climate change in that the Pacific Island Nations are among the most vulnerable in the world to its impacts.

“But right now, there is essentially no data in this region to tell us exactly what changes are occurring and what conditions we might face in the future, which means resource managers and communities are sort of stumbling in the dark,” she said.

“By partnering with USP to host these workshops, we are “turning on the lights” and building long-term capacity for scientists and policy makers throughout the Pacific to monitor, understand, and adapt to ocean acidification,” she added.

The three workshops were attended by 33 participants from 11 nations in the Pacific region. The science portions of the workshop were led by trainers Dr Chris Sabine of NOAA, Dr Kim Currie of NIWA, Dr Max Kaplan of NOAA, and Alexis Valauri-Orton of The Ocean Foundation. The policy workshop was led by Mark J. Spalding, President of The Ocean Foundation, Kevin Ranker, Washington State Senator (USA), and Heather Lewis-Lechner.

Introduction to Ocean Acidification Monitoring and Research, is an introductory course for early-career scientists, researchers, technicians, and others employed in the study and/or management of marine resources from the Pacific Islands, to learn about the fundamentals of ocean acidification science and the methods and tools used to conduct chemical and biological monitoring of ocean acidification.

Applied Ocean Acidification Monitoring and Research Techniques aims to provide hands-on training to scientists and researchers from the Pacific Islands in specific methodologies to monitor ocean acidification.

Stakeholder Dialogue on Ocean Acidification Utilising Policy Tools to Address Regional Challenges was aimed at expanding the capacity of policy makers, scientists, and resource managers around the world to monitor, understand, and respond to ocean acidification in their region.

H.E Cefkin added that the workshop “will make an effective contribution to our ability to study and understand one of the most serious consequences of greenhouse gas emissions driven by industrial activity, that of ocean acidification”.

University of the South Pacific (via, 9 November 2017. Press release.

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