USP hosts Marine Symposium to commemorate 50th anniversary
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Sitting from L-R: Ms Yukari Ono, JICA Resident Representative; Honourable Mr Semi Koroilavesau, Fiji’s Minister for Fisheries; and Professor Derrick Armstrong, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research & International with workshop participants.
The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) School of Marine Studies hosted a symposium on Marine Science and Fisheries in collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) on 29 January, 2018, to commemorate the University’s 50th Anniversary and the School’s 20th Anniversary this year.
Chief Guest at the occasion was Honourable Mr Semi Koroilavesau, Fiji’s Minister for Fisheries who congratulated the establishment of USP and the 20th year of existence of the School of Marine Studies.
He stated that the commitment by the Government of Japan had set the platform for thousands of students to be educated and to grow academically.
Many of these students he noted, after being nurtured and educated through USP’s Marine Studies Programme, have returned and given back tremendously to their countries.
“Giving back to our individual countries is important as threats to fisheries not only affect us at national level but at a regional and global level as well.
“Pacific Island region and its communities are vulnerable. We are particularly threatened by illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU).
“IUU fishing robs the Pacific of its development opportunities; it reduces revenue from fisheries, undermines investment and employment opportunities and threatens the sustainability of fish stocks,” he stated.
Hon. Koroilavesau said that through the academic courses offered by USP’s Marine Studies programme, practitioners are able to collectively contribute to new measures aimed at combating IUU.
This he noted, is evident in the region’s collaborative participation in the management of tuna resources under the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.
“On the other hand, there are compounding issues such as climate change that are more prominent now,” he said.
“The impacts of climate change that constitutes sea level rise, spikes in storm severity, increase in ocean temperatures, and ocean acidification signifies the need to act now. If we fail to do so, then this leaves the entire region’s economy, culture, and safety at a greater risk,” he said.
Professor Derrick Armstrong, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Innovation and International thanked JICA Resident Representative, Ms Yukari Ono, for her agency’s initiative and preparation for the symposium, and for their long-standing cooperation with and continued support to USP.
“The Japanese Government’s partnership with USP and with our students from all over the Pacific is an important component of our broader co-operation with the Pacific and this partnership dates back to at least three decades.
“The Government of Japan is proactively cooperating with key stakeholders within Fiji and the region to deliver necessary development support services to the Pacific communities,” he stated.
He mentioned that the construction of the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre attests to the long standing and strong partnership that the Government of Japan has with the University.
“Japan’s contribution is evident in the University as the entire lower campus, where the School of Marine Resources is based, was funded by Japan. Furthermore, USP is grateful for the proposition made by JICA to replace the Hub Station located at Laucala Campus in Suva and is willing to fund the second hub for redundancy purposes,” he added.
Speaking on the symposium, Professor Amrstong said, “We have an enormous responsibility and commitment under the national, regional and global agenda to protect and preserve the environment surrounding the ocean, and our marines resources and fisheries”.
“As Pacific people, the ocean is our greatest resource for the sustainability of our future generations,” he added.
Ms Ono congratulated the establishment of USP and the 20th year of existence of the School of Marine Studies, adding she was glad to see that those facilities and equipment have been fully utilised by a range of people from USP schools and institutes including staff, research fellows, visiting scientists, post-graduate students and undergraduate students.
“It is a notable fact that many students who studied at the School of Marine Studies now hold key positions in government agencies, regional and international organisations, non-governmental organisations, and private sectors in USP member countries and in the region,” she said.
She emphasised that JICA has had a very good relationship and close cooperation with the School of Marine Studies for many years through JICA’s technical cooperation activities such as dispatching Japanese experts and senior volunteers to the School of Marine Studies to support the school’s various programme activities.
With regards to the symposium, Ms Ono said she hoped further collaboration between USP and Japanese Universities would be enhanced, to provide essential human resources in Maritime and Fisheries sector to secure the sound development of respective Pacific Island Countries.
The symposium ended on 30 January, 2018.
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