An Environmental Science Professor from the Autonomous University of Barcelona in Spain, Prof. Dr. Patrizia Ziveri says ocean acidification is a major environmental challenge which motivated the need for a side event hosted by the Ocean Acidification (OA-Africa) Africa Network at the Blue Oceans Conference in Liberia- first marine environmental conference in West Africa. The network is a pan-African with the specific mandate to coordinate and promote ocean acidification (OA) awareness and research in Africa. Research activities on ocean acidification and related stressors on the African continent are developing rapidly in response to a clear need for action to minimize and address the impacts posed by changing climatic and system wide changes.
Prof. Dr. Ziveri spoke at the side event organized by Ocean Acidification (OA-Africa) Africa Network held in Monrovia on March 19, 2019 during the Blue Oceans Conference activities.
Professor Ziveri said the ocean acidification is considered differently at regional and local levels across the world particularly in Africa where knowledge about the environmental threat is negligible.
She indicated that knowledge building efforts on the subject in Africa started only recently in South Africa in 2017.
The Autonomous University of Barcelona Environmental Research Professor said the side event was meant for stakeholders and organizations to review their work done over the last few years to address OA.
Also speaking, Queen’s University Belfast PhD Scholar and Co-Chair of the OA-Africa Network, Sheck Sherif noted that little is known about ocean acidification in Africa and as such, there was a need to build the capacity of African Scientists.
“Africa has a very huge gap and to ensure that these gaps are closed, we need to build the capacity of Africa Scientists,” Sherif urged.
Outlining the danger of ocean acidification, he noted that half of emitted carbon dioxide (CO2) remains in the atmosphere and causing global warming; while half of the harmful gas is absorbed by ocean and land- with the ocean absorbing 24 million tons of CO2 every day.
The oceans, he said provide livelihood for billions of people worldwide while some of the plants and animal species including fish and coral reefs are valuable. According to him, fish is a primary source of animal protein for one billion people, mostly in developing countries and Coral reefs provide home for millions of species and serves as storm protection for coastlines and generate income from tourism.
He however said climate change and ocean acidification will increase challenges from existing stressors including overexploitation of resources, habitat degradation, and loss of biodiversity, pollution and coastal erosion.
For his part, Dr. Peter Swarzenski, Senior Researcher of the international Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Environment Laboratories in Monaco revealed that because OA is a rapidly growing field, there is increasing need for international coordinator and collaboration.
He said the IAEA, through the International Coordination and Capacity Building on Ocean Acidification, (OA-ICC) and several inter-governmental agencies including the Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network (GOA-ON) is rendering support in terms of capacity and funding to boost the awareness of ocean acidification across the world.
Directly following the Blue Oceans Conference, the OA-Africa Steering Committee held its in-person Steering Committee Meeting on March 22, 2019 to identify priorities and opportunities to advance ocean acidification monitoring, biological and societal response studies throughout Africa. The Steering Committee meeting was hosted with support from the International Atomic Energy Agency Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre (IAEA- OA-ICC) and The Ocean Foundation (TOF).
OA-Africa is composed by scientists interested in conducting research on ocean acidification monitoring and observation in Africa and they are part of the wider Global Ocean Acidification Observing Network