Blue Charter action group makes strides toward tackling ocean acidification

The inaugural Blue Charter action group meeting on ocean acidification has brought us a step closer to finding solutions to the detrimental impacts of rising pH levels on ocean life, Commonwealth Head of Oceans and Natural Resources stated.

Nick Hardman-Mountford was speaking at the end of a three-day workshop led by the government of New Zealand, which champions the Ocean Acidification Action Group – part of the Commonwealth Blue Charter. The Charter is a joint commitment by member countries to protect the ocean and sustainably manage its resources.

More than forty-five participants, including experts, scientists and Commonwealth marine officials met in Dunedin, New Zealand, to explore the impacts of ocean acidification and strategies that policymakers can to use to address the growing issue.

“As carbon emissions increase we see a worrying rise in the levels of acidity in our ocean. This poses a serious threat to marine life, particularly shellfish, urchins, corals, plankton and other creatures with calcium carbonate shells and skeletons. The impact on the health of our ocean if we continue on this destructive trajectory is dire,” said Dr Hardman-Mountford.

He added, “I am really pleased that New Zealand and others are taking steps to identify options for effective monitoring and research around ocean acidification, and exploring mitigation, adaptation and resilience strategies.”

The workshop is the latest in a series of activities around the Blue Charter programme. Earlier this month, the Commonwealth along with ocean research institute Nekton and its partners, launched a ground-breaking scientific research expedition into the unexplored depths of the Indian Ocean. The data gathered will help governments and those who make decisions on important ocean governance issues such as conservation, climate change and fishing.

Dr Bronte Tilbrook, a senior principle researcher at Australia’s national research agency and chair of the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network, stressed the importance of the Commonwealth Blue Charter.

He said, “Ocean acidification is happening and is going to impact all countries with ocean domains. The Blue Charter is allowing governments and scientists to work together to make informed decisions on actions. There is nothing similar anywhere else.”

Nathan Glassey, a senior official at the New Zealand’s Foreign Ministry, added that the well-attended workshop on ocean acidification showed that countries see real benefit in the Commonwealth’s leadership on the issue.

“People were clearly excited about the opportunity to harness the Commonwealth’s collective power to address the impacts of ocean acidification”.

Mr Glassey said that the next step is to take stock of the practical ideas that emerged during the workshop. “We want to consolidate the Action Group’s membership and turn some of these ideas into reality.”

The Commonwealth, 21 February 2019. Article.

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