The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Emalus Campus in Vanuatu hosted an international workshop as part of Commonwealth Marine Economies (CME) Programme from 10th – 14th June, 2019.
The CME Programme is working with the most vulnerable Small Island Developing states to help them the most of their natural maritime advantages, to enable sustainable economic growth, and to alleviate poverty. Funded by the UK Government’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) and led by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the CME Programme is delivering world leading expertise in marine science through its main delivery partners: the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO), the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) and the National Oceanography Centre (NOC).
The workshop hosted was part of the ongoing collaborative research in accordance with the MoU being established between USP and Cefas, London, UK. Cefas has been working with regional and national partners in Vanuatu to help develop an ongoing risk assessment to identify key issues facing Vanuatu’s communities and marine ecosystems. The programme has been wide ranging in scope, with data collected through field trips, in-situ monitoring and using technology such as remote sensing to underpin seagrass mapping, carbon valuations, water quality monitoring and assessment. A climate change report card has also been produced for the Pacific with outcomes for Vanuatu.
The aim of the workshop being held this week was to,
(i) Present the findings from the seagrass and blue carbon section of the work programme,
(ii) Deliver training to local participants on vessel-based underwater camera surveying, intertidal seagrass surveying and analysis workflow for seagrass blue carbon studies and
(iii) Present outcomes on water quality, pollution modelling and innovative mapping work.
USP students and staff, Dr Krishna Kotra, Dr Gilianne Brodie and Dr Katy Soapi along with Cefas staff Dr Michelle Devlin, Dr Lisa Benson, Dr Marta Vannoni and Mr Jon Hawes had overseen the arrangements and running of the workshop. Case studies, practical training at Emalus Science Lab and field visits were all part of the three day sessions being held as part of the workshop.
Dr Krishna Kotra, Science Programme Coordinator, in his welcome speech thanked USP for providing unconditional support to organize the workshop. He conveyed his heartfelt thanks for Cefas and Dr Michelle Devlin for choosing the campus to host the international workshop. He also thanked the campus director, Mr Ruben Markward for his strong promotion of research activities in the campus that are benefiting students and staff of Emalus.
Dr Krishna said that the core idea of the MoU which was established in 2016 was to exactly see these kinds of activities in the campus where students and staff of the campus are involved in research activities and international discussions. He concluded that the partnership with Cefas has benefited one and all in many ways and hoped to continue the same in future as well with many collaborative research studies in the Pacific.
Dr Michelle Devlin, Cefas lead researcher also acknowledged the strong partnership between Cefas and USP, and the excellent ongoing work that had been undertaken as part of the CME Programme in the Pacific. (Caption: USP’s students and staff with other participants of the international workshop at Emalus Campus.)