Bright futures in ocean research

The opportunities for marine science and knowledge management in developing regions were celebrated at the first Pacific Blue Economy Conference this week in Suva, Fiji, held by the Pacific Islands Development Forum.

"Stronger data means stronger negotiating positions, greater certainty in the levels of sustainable use we permit, and a faster response to grow and maintain resilience to change," said Mr Tommy Moore, Pacific Islands Global Ocean Observing System officer with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

"There is a great scope for cooperation with industry, in particular opportunities for fishing vessels, ferries and marine transport to collect and share information about the ocean, marine ecosystem health, and climate during their routine operations. For us to take advantage of this opportunity, we need connections between industry, scientists, governments and communities, all grounded in the understanding that shared information can provide positive results for us all."

Although the benefits from ocean resources account for large fractions of national economies, only 0.4% to 4% of national budgets around the world are directed to ocean research. Greater funding for ocean research will boost our global understanding and will also boost science opportunities for students from developing regions.

Carlo Iacovino -g- Samoa 2015 copy
Samoa. Photo: C.Iacovino

With 2021 to 2030 proposed as an international decade for ocean science for sustainable development, the career opportunities in marine sciences look bright for students and researchers today.

Dr Moore noted the need for more long-term data series from the Southern Hemisphere and more scientific knowledge from the SIDS regions. According to the Global Ocean Science Report, only 6% of ocean science publications come from Oceania. Support for young researchers in Oceania could produce global results.

Women are also welcome in marine sciences: the gender balance in ocean science is more equal than in science as a whole. However, there is still progress to be made. Of the studied regions, the Pacific Ocean region has the lowest fraction of women in ocean science, according to the Global Ocean Science Report.

"Being able to picture yourself in a career is an important factor in student decisions, so increasing the visibility of the broad range of Pacific marine workers helps empower our young people when they consider their next steps," says Mr Sefanaia Nawadra, Head of the UN Environment Pacific sub-regional office.

"Our ongoing project to collect and share stories of Pacific women in ocean work celebrates their ocean leadership and shows opportunities for us all."

At the recent UN Ocean Conference in New York, HE Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi spoke at the launch of the Global Ocean Science Report, the first assessment of the state of marine science research across the world.

"Science, technology and innovation are an integral part of the means of implementation of SDGs and as such are a priority of all member states," said HE Tuilalepa stated at the launch in June.

"Investment in and use of the best available science data and technology is critical to underpinning ocean governance reforms and shaping decisions to bring about long-term changes to grow a blue economy."

For more information please contact Ms Nanette Woonton at nanettew@sprep.org.
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