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USP hosts Race for Water Conference

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Part of the audience at the Race for Water Conference at USP.

Preserving the ocean against plastic pollution was the message delivered at the Race for Water Conference at The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Lower Campus on 15 January 2019.

The conference was part of a series of events during the stopover in Fiji by the Race for Water Odyssey, which received an official welcome at the Port Denarau Marina last week.

Ms Camille Rollin, Race for Water Foundation Project Manager spoke on how the world is facing an unprecedented environmental disaster on a planetary scale, adding that 80 per cent of this marine pollution stems from plastic waste.

“It gets carried along by the rainwater and drains into waterways where it ultimately reaches the sea and breaks down into microparticles of plastic, which float amidst the oceanic gyres. Their impact on biodiversity and the marine food chain is alarming, from the plankton to the largest cetacean, nothing is safe,” she said.

“There will be more plastics than fish in our oceans in 2050 if nothing is done,” she affirmed.

Ms Rollin added that their team is travelling on an ecological boat “which only works with renewable energy and we are touring the world to develop our programmes which are to learn, share and act”.

Through learning, the team welcomes scientific missions on board to study the impacts of plastic pollution on human health.

“The education part, that is through sharing, is of course a key part of our programme so we welcome children on board and decision makers at each of our stopover,” she explained.

In addition the team implements technological solutions, one of which is to allow the transformation of mixed plastics into electricity in volumes that could be adapted to an island or to a district in the city, the idea being to incentivise recollection.

“Recent studies made in the region show that 33 out of 34 commercial fish species were found to have micro plastics contamination. So we are here to spread the word on the importance of the ocean and how island communities in places like Fiji are most affected by plastic pollution,” she added.

Scientific research and findings from recent missions by USP Masters student, Andrew Paris, was also presented. His Master thesis titled Evaluation of the abundance and distribution of microplastics in Fiji surface waters, looks to quantify abundance and determine distribution process of microplastic in surface waters to the Southeast of Fiji.

With a mission to raising awareness on marine plastic pollution and to offer land-based solutions to tackle the critical threat facing our oceans. The ambassador vessel only works with renewable energy and is now into its second year of its 5-year expedition around the globe.


This news item was published on 21 Jan 2019 08:38:11 am. For more information or any High-Res Images, please contact us on email communications@usp.ac.fj


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