US/NZ host international workshop on ocean acidification

US Embassy chargé d’affaires Marie Damour

Leading international ocean scientists and policy experts are today gathering in Apia, Samoa to better understand the threat ocean acidification poses to Pacific Island nations.

The workshop, co-hosted by the United States and New Zealand governments in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, will be held on the margins of the Small Island Developing States Conference, today and tomorroq.

The workshop participants, who hail from the nations attending the Small Island Developing States conference, will discuss best practices, solutions and ocean acidification monitoring programmes for island nations to implement.

US Embassy chargé d’affaires Marie Damour says US Secretary of State John Kerry’s ‘Our Ocean’ conference in June highlighted ocean acidification as a key threat to the world’s oceans.

“The workshop, in addition to coming up with practical solutions for the challenge of ocean acidification in the Pacific, showcases the strong partnership between the US and New Zealand on oceans and science issues,” she says.

“As Minister Steven Joyce highlighted this week, the United States is New Zealand’s most significant research and technology partner,” she says.

This week’s Ocean Acidification workshop follows on from a workshop in Nelson in December 2013 which identified ways to futureproof New Zealand’s $350 aquaculture industry. It was held in partnership between the US Department of State, the New Zealand Government, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, Sanford Limited and the Cawthron Institute.

This week’s workshop, entitled ‘An International Workshop on Ocean Acidification: State-of-the-Science Considerations for Small Island Developing States’ was officially announced by US and New Zealand at the 45th Pacific Islands Forum in Palau held this year in August.

Speaking at the event will be Dr Todd Capson, an American oceans scientist and science and policy adviser to the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership in Washington DC who also co-organised the Nelson event.          

Mr Capson spoke to the NBR earlier in the year about the threat to New Zealand’s aquaculture.

“There’s really no debate that it’s happening. It’s simple chemistry,” he says.

“Worldwide, oceans have absorbed more than a quarter of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere since the beginning of the industrial revolution. We’ve seen a 30-40% increase in the acidity of our oceans, and it’s hurting.”

The organisations co-sponsoring the Ocean Acidification workshop are the US Department of State, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme.

nsmith@nbr.co.nz

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