Pacific Culture to Aid Science to Save Oceans

Recently, a United Nations (UN) regional meeting concluded in Noumea, New Caledonia, with the aim of providing Pacific solutions to the issue of ocean conservation. This meeting was the first of nine global meetings on the UN’s so-called ‘Decade of the Ocean’.  The head of the United Nations body responsible for ocean conservation believes that indigenous Pacific knowledge can help define the science needed to save the ocean.

Vladimir Ryabinin, from the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, spoke at the conclusion of the meeting and expressed his opinion that it is important for Pacific’s traditional knowledge to help establish conservation science. “Traditional Knowledge for us would be the way to gauge the usefulness of scientific solutions and then also transform the solutions into something that is useful, really useful,” he said.

This global meeting followed a recent UN assessment concluding that the ocean is failing, with an increase in temperature and acidity negatively impacting fish stocks and biodiversity. It said the world has until 2030 to prevent collapse.

Jens Kruger, who is the Pacific Community’s Manager of Ocean Affairs, said that Pacific culture is the biggest regional theme to unify the science to save the world’s oceans. Mr. Kruger said he expected “capacity building and the transfer of marine technology” to be the strongest “cross-cutting” themes during the UN meeting on the so-called Decade of the Ocean in New Caledonia, but this is wrong.

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Funafuti Lagoon, Tuvalu

Pacific scientists, government representatives, NGOs and academics recently met in Noumea, New Caledonia,  for the first of nine meetings around the world to discuss scientific solutions to save the oceans.

A recent UN report concluded the world’s oceans are failing and we have until 2030 to prevent collapse. Mr Kruger said it was clear the indigenous Pacific voice has something unique to bind the scientific solutions to save the oceans. “We talked a lot about culture and bringing culture into our deliberations around ocean science. We need to be consistent and united in that message that culture is a cross-cutting issue when it comes to reversing the decline in ocean health,” he said.

A Pacific youth representative said her generation will be the region’s leaders in efforts to reverse the decline of the ocean. The Pacific Youth Council’s Tyler-Rae Chung said the coming decade provides the region’s youth the opportunity to make bold decisions for the future.

Ms Chung noted that the upcoming generation of scientists need to start thinking about the future they want for their ocean. “And I’m looking forward to seeing more young people being able to push forward and to going back into our nations and in our little pockets of communities and just talking up, talking about the decade before it actually happens and how they can be involved,” she said.

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