USP’S Emalus Campus Introduces Ocean Acidification Monitoring in Vanuatu

Participants who attended the Ocean Acidification workshop at USP’s Emalus Campus

Researchers from The University of the South Pacific’s (USP) Emalus Campus and University of Otago (UO) (New Zealand) organised a weeklong workshop from 19 – 23 November to introduce Ocean Acidification in Vanuatu.

The workshop was funded by The Ocean Foundation from the United States of America, as part of the installation of the Ocean Acidification Monitoring – GOA-ON in Box Kit for the monitoring of acidification levels (pH) in Vanuatu shores.

The workshop was led by Dr Krishna Kotra, Science Programme Coordinator at the Emalus Campus and Dr Christina McGraw of University of Otago with the assistance of PhD student Wayne Dillon who is based University of Otago.

The Ocean Acidification workshop was a successful event with sixty (60) participants attended for the first day witnessing various presentations on introduction of Ocean Acidification and impacts of climate change.

Speakers included Dr Krishna Kotra (USP), Dr. Thomas Mayes of Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), Dr. David Lobster of Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), Dr. Christina McGraw (University of Otago), Mr. Wayne Dillion (University of Otago), Ms. Sophie Ruhler (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) and Mr. Baruva Iauma (USP).

Mrs Nettie Collins, Office In-charge of the Campus, in her address, welcomed the participants and said that this is a wonderful opportunity for students and public to know more about the concept of Ocean Acidification and its impacts on the shores of Vanuatu.

She appreciated the funding organisation, The Ocean Foundation, for choosing Vanuatu and the Emalus Campus to carry out the monitoring.

“The work in light of many challenges associated with climate change impacts that are threatening the small island nations including Vanuatu is the need of the hour,” she said.

Dr Kotra, who is leading the monitoring programme in Vanuatu, thanked The Ocean Foundation for allocating the monitoring equipment to Vanuatu and funding the maintaining.

He said that collaboration with University of Otago will not only enhance the monitoring programme but further enhance the research activities at the campus with mutual cooperation.

He said that the Campus is facilitating these kinds of collaborations to enhance research skills development for students and staff.

Students at the training session and at the deployment site

Dr Kotra further explained that USP’s Emalus Campus has been at the forefront in attracting world‑renowned universities and national research centres to carry out research in Vanuatu and the Pacific.

“In-spite of limitations, collaborators believe in our ideas and logistical support and are thus coming forward to undertake cutting-edge research studies in collaboration with USP in Vanuatu and the Pacific,” Dr Kotra stated.

Dr Mansour Assaf, In-country Science Programme Coordinator stated that the Faculty of Science, Technology and Environment (FSTE) has been promoting for the participation of students in research activities which is in line with the current Vanuatu In-country Science Programme (VISP) which started this year.

He urged all the Ni-Vanuatu students to utilise the new VISP cohort opportunity, scheduled for 2019, to graduate from in-country and be part of these kinds of research workshops and trainings being conducted at Emalus Campus.

He further stated that theoretical knowledge coupled with practical experience will certainly benefit the students in their academic and professional development.

On the second day, twenty six (26) stakeholders, representatives from non-government organisations and students participated in the hands-on training with the GOA-ON in-a-box equipment.

Led by Dr Kotra, Dr Christina McGraw and Mr Wayne Dillon, students gained hands-on experience on three seawater chemistry instruments: alkalinity titrator, pH spectrophotometer, and deployable pH sensor.

On the third day, Dr Kotra, Dr McGraw and Mr Dillon led a sampling trip to Erakor Lagoon, where students learned how to collect seawater samples and participated in the deployment of two seawater monitoring instruments.

On days 3-5, Dr McGraw and Mr Dillon led additional field trips and continued training participants on the necessary laboratory techniques.

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