Fiji’s membership of Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) for the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) is of extreme value. This was shared by the Permanent Secretary of Fisheries Mr. Craig Strong who attended the IOC of WESTPAC meeting in Manila, Philippines this week.
 
“As we collectively prepare for the UN decade of ocean science, the IOC WESTPAC provides a critical anchor point to frame the scientific research and development of the work of the Ministry of Fisheries during this time. In particular IOC WESTPAC provides significant collaboration, support and cooperation opportunities in the ocean science sphere. Having seen the work being undertaken by IOC WESTPAC memberships I am extremely optimistic that this scientific support mechanism will greatly enhance the work we must do to sustain, manage and protect our Fisheries,” Strong says.
 
In addressing the members, the Head of IOC – WESTPAC Wenxi Zhu welcomed the participation of Fiji, Singapore and France, the three important member countries that have not been represented at past meetings.
 
 “IOC Westpac as a scientific body will continue to assist members with scientific support aimed at addressing sustainability. It will continue to use the spirit of collaboration and cooperation to achieve the goals of its members. The OIC is adamant that Fiji and other members will elevate its participation at the forum which will led to reciprocal sustainable benefits,” Zhu said.
 
The WESTPAC science body plays an important role of assisting countries with scientific support critical for sustainable fisheries management, coastal biodiversity, protection of coastal population and maintaining eco-system services in line with the priorities and needs to members.
 
Led by Strong, Fiji delegation’s participation focused on identifying key scientific areas that are of interest to Fiji. This includes achievement of SDG 14 commitments through scientific support, harness synergies between science and fisheries management, ocean acidification, upwelling studies through Ocean data integration and coral reef conservation and resilience to climate and human impacts.
 
The other focal points of Fiji’s delegation was on ocean remote sensing for coastal mapping, marine toxins and seafood safety, micro plastic and marine pollution and scientific studies of climate change.
 
The next meeting of members will reconvene in 2021.
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