Ocean acidification is a slow process with potentially far-reaching consequences for marine life and human populations relying on the ocean for food and livelihoods. Measuring ocean acidification is also notoriously difficult, as it requires precise data over long time periods. This need for precision and long-term efforts requires sufficient skills, equipment, and resources.
The Pacific Islands Ocean Acidification Centre (PIOAC) is a regional hub for ocean acidification research and monitoring in the Pacific Islands region. The Centre was established in 2021 through a partnership between members of the Pacific Community (SPC), the University of the South Pacific (USP), the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric research (NIWA) and the University of Otago. It was created to support ocean acidification capacity development throughout the Pacific and provide regional leadership on this issue.
Lessons for the Region
In the Pacific region, coastal communities’ livelihoods are tied to thriving coastal ecosystems which are susceptible to ocean acidification.
In Fiji, a five-day hands-on training was recently hosted by USP in partnership with the Pacific Community Centre for Ocean Science (PCCOS). The training was led by experts from NIWA, the University of Otago, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and The Ocean Foundation. Sixteen participants from ten Pacific Island countries were trained on key practical skills related to equipment deployment, sea-water sampling, and data management.
Alitaake Alefaio from the Tuvalu Department of Environment believes the training will considerably contribute to the work they are doing in Tuvalu in terms of marine research. It will help her to find out the pH level in the freshwater ponds where solar floating panels are being planned to be installed and the other conservation areas which Tuvalu is trying to preserve for future generations.
Local Pacific scientists strengthened their capacity for ocean acidification monitoring through this training which alternated between field activities, laboratory analyses, and computer-based work. The trainees were provided with resources to initiate research and monitoring programmes on ocean acidification in their home countries. The training was made possible through the support from The Ocean Foundation, partners of PIOAC, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The Pacific Islands Ocean Acidification Centre functions as a hub for Pacific partners to study and monitor local ocean acidification conditions, identify effective and sustainable adaptation and mitigation approaches, and develop strategies to address changes to ecosystems, communities, and economies.
The Pacific Community in partnership with The University of the South Pacific provides additional support for training (lab space, design of monitoring program, logistical support, equipment deployment, etc). This training also helped strengthen scientific partnerships between Pacific Island countries and territories, PIOAC partners and CROP organisations.
Learn more about our work around Ocean Acidification: https://pccos.spc.int/work-areas/ocean-acidification