Shining our spotlight on our Pacific people that work for our Pacific environment in this Q and A series form your Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).
Mr Raymond Schuster is the Ocean Acidification Support Officer for the Ocean Acidification Project funded by the Korean Institute of Ocean Science Technology. In his role, Mr Schuster is responsible for providing project management and technical support to the overall operations of the project.
Mr Schuster joined SPREP in 2018 as the Project Assistant for the Global Environment Facility Pacific Alliance for Sustainability Persistent Organic Pollutants Release Reduction Project with the Waste Management and Pollution Control Programme. He has since moved to the Climate Change Resilience Programme, serving as the Project Technical Assistant for the New Zealand Partnership on Ocean Acidification Project before moving to his current role.
Q: What is it that you do at SPREP?
A: As the Ocean Acidification Support Officer, I provide technical support to project activities and operations. Activities include the implementation of ecosystem-based solutions in areas of coral, seagrass, and mangrove restoration. We work at grassroots levels to raise awareness on Ocean Acidification (OA) and tailor information for respective groups to ensure messages on OA are effectively delivered. Through our project we provide a platform for youth not only to learn about OA, but to voice their concerns on the issue, thus preparing future leaders. All these efforts are undertaken to strengthen the ecosystems our Pacific communities depend on and ensure their resilience against ocean acidification.
Q: What is the biggest challenge in your role and how do you overcome it?
A: In the Pacific region, OA is a fairly new concept and a challenge that has been identified through our work, is the lack of scientific capacity. There is a need to sustainably build and support experts and expertise in OA work in the Pacific. This building of capacity is fundamental because of its impact on our livelihoods.
To address this issue, SPREP through its OA work has funded PhD studies for Pacific students in OA and marine science. While giving Pacific students the opportunities to pursue higher education, it is important that traditional knowledge is integrated into science in a way that communities can better understand the concept of OA.
Q: What Pacific environmental challenge do you work to address?
A: Under the umbrella of climate change, the environmental challenge that I am set up to address and provide support to our Pacific Region is OA. OA is rapidly emerging as a significant regional and global threat to ocean ecosystems and fisheries. Globally, it is driven by the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere, which is then partially absorbed by the oceans. In this regard it can be viewed as a long-term climate change stressor, similar to sea level rise and increasing sea surface temperatures, with dramatic consequences for key marine and coastal organisms highly likely to occur well before the end of this century.
Q: What environment fact do you think we should all know?
A: By 2050, coral reefs will dissolve faster than they can build their skeletons. Loss of coral reefs will mean loss of critical habitat for important marine species and would result in increased rates of coastal erosion.
Q: If you could share one piece of advice that you have your learnt from your work, what would it be?
A: Let all that you do, be done in love 1 Corinthians 16:14