Academic says more Oceans research will strengthen Blue Pacific

The recent recognition of the Vatu-i-Ra passage Natural Park was an important milestones of environmental protection in the Ra region. Picture: FIJI SEASCAPE

YAREN, 04 SEPTEMBER 2018 (PACIFIC RADIO NEWS) – The vice-chancellor of the University of the South Pacific (USP) Rajesh Chandra says more research is necessary as interest in the Pacific is growing among international partners.

With Pacific being the large-ocean states of the world, Chandra says knowing more will result in negotiating deals about the ocean from a stronger position.

His suggestion to dial up Ocean-focussed research came at a side event led by the Office of the Pacific Oceans Commissioner, a role held by the Forum Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor.

Management and governance of the ocean is a major part of the agenda for Forum Leaders in Nauru this week.

“We know so little about our own oceans and unless we know a lot more, we cannot deal with it properly and protect our own interests when so many countries in the world are really interested in what we have,” says Chandra.

“We know more about our fisheries than before, but we need to know more about our seabed – scale up collaboration and efforts to know far more.”

Chandra says in addition to more research, Pacific personnel should be aboard any international research vessel in the region.

“When we authorise ships to collect data, that data should be shared. Personnel from the Pacific should be on those ships – owning that data and developing capacity.”

The Forum Fisheries Agency Director General James Movick says most of the research being undertaken in the Pacific should be made known to the region.

“We should at least have processes in place that require any research to be done to be made known so we understand what the total picture is from the Pacific side.”

The Pacific Oceans Commissioner Dame Meg Taylor says it’s on the agenda for leaders to discuss in upcoming Forum sessions.

“It’s very important for us going forward, it raises concerns about what’s happening in our oceans and what we may lose,” he said.