Pacific Islands scientists during an ocean acidification training workshop in Suva, Fiji
Image credit: The Ocean Foundation
A new Suva-based Regional Ocean Acidification Training Hub launched today will combat ocean acidification and its effects in the Pacific region.
Ocean acidification is caused by fossil fuels releasing carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere which is then absorbed by the ocean. This CO2 when combined with seawater produces carbonic acid, which turns the seawater more acidic, a process called ocean acidification.
The earth’s oceans are absorbing more carbon dioxide (CO2) than ever before, becoming 30% more acidic over the last 250 years and projected to acidify by 150- 200% by 2100.
Ocean acidification intensifies coral bleaching and interrupts the lifecycle of shellfish, affecting fish and other large marine creatures and the entire marine food chain. And with coral reefs facing bleaching due to warmer seas and damage from pollution, ocean acidification is making things worse.
“People in the Pacific depend on the ocean for their livelihoods”, said Dr Katy Soapi, Pacific Community Centre for Ocean Science (PCCOS) Coordinator.
“Every additional tonne of CO2 emission will lead to increased levels of ocean acidification and this will have huge impacts on coral reefs, shellfish, our food security, biodiversity, tourism and fisheries”, said Dr Soapi.
The Ocean Acidification Training Hub will enhance and sustain ocean acidification monitoring and research capacity in the region. Through mentoring, skills development and training, the hub will equip the Pacific region with the skills necessary to successfully implement a region-wide ocean acidification observing programme.
“We will also have two Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON) in a box kits for analysis of ocean acidification that will be used by the Hub for training. There will also be five kits given as grants to eligible countries to develop their capacity in this area. These box kits contain everything needed to analyse and monitor ocean acidification,” said Dr Soapi.
Over the next three years the Hub will offer training courses on ocean acidification through the Ocean Teachers Global Academy training platform, ocean acidification monitoring equipment grants, and a number of Masters Student Fellowships for Pacific Islanders researchers.
“Having the Ocean Acidification Training Hub based in Suva means we can develop and share the knowledge and skills needed to deal with this issue. This is just the start, this Hub will have huge benefits for people in the region”, said Alexis Valauri-Orton, Program Manager with The Ocean Foundation.
The Hub will be managed by the Pacific Community (SPC) and co-hosted with the Institute of Applied Science at the University of the South Pacific, in partnership with the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) and the University of Otago.
The establishment of this OA Hub is supported by The Ocean Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the United States Government.
For further information on the hub, please contact Dr Katy Soapi [email protected].