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US/NZ host international workshop on ocean acidification

An International Workshop on Ocean Acidification: State-of-the-Science Considerations for Small Island Developing States

August 28-29, 2014

Apia, Samoa

Jointly hosted by New Zealand and the United States in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme

Parallel Event of the UN Third International Conference on Small Island Developing States

Leading international ocean scientists and policy experts are tomorrow 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, on the 28-29 August.

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, a.i. Marie Damour said 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 said.

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

This week’s Ocean Acidification workshop follows on from a workshop in Nelson in December 2013 which identified ways to future proof 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 & Policy Advisor to the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership in Washington DC who also co-organised the Nelson event.

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.

Background Information

Ocean acidification is emerging as an urgent environmental and economic issue in many areas of the world. As the world’s oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, ocean pH levels are falling, resulting in greater acidity of ocean water. Since the industrial revolution, the oceans have absorbed 40% of the carbon dioxide released by human activities, resulting in a 30% increase in the acidity of the world oceans. If these changes to the chemical balance of ocean and coastal waters continue at present rates, they may have potentially devastating effects on marine life.

Given that over one billion people rely on the oceans for their primary source of protein, and that the economies of many countries around the world depend on fish, shellfish and marine ecosystems that support such life in the oceans, the human health and economic impacts of ocean acidification could be disastrous. Monitoring is required to assess the rate of ocean acidification and to inform practical adaptation/response measures.

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) may be particularly vulnerable to the impacts of ocean acidification. This workshop will bring together technical and policy experts with frontline experience in observing and seeking ways to address the impacts of ocean acidification through globally integrated baseline observation and monitoring for SIDS as well as regionally relevant, practical adaptation measures. The workshop goal is to identify emerging best practices applicable to SIDS, as speakers and participants share adaptation and monitoring experiences, and to develop a network for experts to disseminate this critical information across the Pacific, Caribbean, Atlantic and Indian Ocean regions.

The workshop, which is jointly hosted by New Zealand and the United States in partnership with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme, will be taking place on 28-29 August aboard the Pacific Jewel, in Apia Harbour.

ENDS

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