PERMANENT Secretary of the Ministry of Environment Dr Melchior Mataki has co-chaired an international workshop on ocean acidification over the weekend.
The workshop on the theme ‘State of the Science Considerations for Small Island Developing States’ recognised the need for SIDS to seriously take necessary actions to address the threat ocean acidification has towards their marine ecosystems.
“Participants jointly recognised the nature of the Ocean Acidification threat to marine ecosystems surrounding SIDS, which provide their communities with food security, livelihoods and economic stability, resilience to extreme weather events, and cultural identity,” Dr Mataki said.
He said some of the important marine species which are potentially vulnerable to Ocean Acidification include corals, molluscs such as conchs, clams, and oysters, crustaceans such as lobsters and crabs, and reef and pelagic fish.
Dr Mataki stressed that Ocean acidification is a current and escalating threat.
He said although some impacts are already occurring, others will increasingly be felt over coming decades.
He added the workshop enabled participants to recognise the need to establish standardised, affordable, long term research and monitoring capacity, including consideration of traditional knowledge.
“While also taking advantage of international communities-of-practice such as the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network and the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre, by leveraging and mobilising existing scientific and technological resources and organisations within individual SIDS countries and across SIDS regions, and through international partnership and cooperation.”
Dr Mataki said awareness raising, capacity building, technology transfer, and resource mobilisation was strongly emphasised, including the potential development of regional centres of excellence, as an efficient way to develop capacity within SIDS.
He said the workshop fostered the creation of Ocean Acidification networks for the Caribbean, Pacific Islands, and AIMS SIDS regionswhich will continue to develop next steps in their regions, including engaging participants from countries not present at the workshop, and through the near-term development of SIDS-driven, SIDS-connected and SIDS-focused “Joint SIDS Recommendations on Ocean Acidification”.
Meanwhile, Dr Mataki said given the serious nature of Ocean Acidification impacts, participants recognised that resilience-building strategies and practical adaptation actions mustbe simultaneously explored and developed.
“Strategies and action should include, but not be limited to, efforts that enhance functioning of local marine ecosystems (for example, management of nutrient run-off, overfishing, land-use change, seagrass beds, and use of marine protected areas), and strengthen resilience of the local communities through open sharing of scientific findings and capacity building to develop local awareness, expertise and knowledge,” Dr Mataki added.
By DANIEL NAMOSUAIA
in Apia, Samoa