Scientists meet to discuss marine future

Marine scientists are proving they know that it takes good bait to catch a big audience.

Marine scientists are proving they know that it takes good bait to catch a big audience.

With topics such as The Rise of the Mullets, Are you an Alien? and Sex and the Seagrass, next week’s marine science conference in Wellington looks set to pull in the crowds. More than 350 marine scientists from across New Zealand and Australia will be at Victoria University for the joint conference of the marine sciences societies of NZ and Australia.

Participants will discuss the latest advances in marine science, the competing demand for marine resources and the scientific work needed to support that demand, as well as how climate change is affecting the marine environment.

Integrating marine science with traditional knowledge

And in a conference first, part of the programme is dedicated to indigenous science. Maori, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders will discuss how scientists can work with their communities to integrate science and traditional knowledge.

The aim is to improve research partnerships and will focus on the benefits that arise from collaborations, mutual respect of knowledge and a common purpose. Conference presenter and NIWA scientist Kelly Ratana said meaningful partnerships provided opportunities to resolve complex issues, but must be founded on a genuine desire to work together.

“As researchers, we should be asking Indigenous communities how such partnerships work for them: considering successes, past issues and how the process could be improved.

‘”We want to open up this discussion between Indigenous peoples (practitioners, researchers and leaders) and the marine science community, as well as strengthen learnings and relationships across the Tasman.’

Marking 30 years of QMS and challenges for the next 20

The conference, which runs for four days and boasts more than 300 contributors, is also hosting a fisheries symposium marking 30 years of the Quota Management System (QMS).

A keynote speech will address the challenges for fisheries science while there will also be presentations on future proofing the fisheries industry and an assessment of the QMS exploring science options for the next 20 years.

NZMSS president and NIWA scientist Dr Helen Neil says that worldwide the commercial, recreational and traditional use of an increasingly broad range of ocean resources is escalating year after year.

“We will deliberate on how to meet the needs of evidence-based decision making and policy development under future scenarios of resource sharing. We will also explore how well the marine science community is responding to the new trans-disciplinary challenges in our two countries, and explore the direction we need to take over the next 20-30 years to assist decision makers in the daunting task of sharing ocean resources in a changing world.”

“We will also uncover more about the fundamentals of how marine systems work now and under future environmental change scenarios.”

Recognising outstanding marine science

On Wednesday night the New Zealand Marine Sciences Society will present its annual award to someone who has advanced knowledge and understanding of marine science in New Zealand. This prestigious award was instigated to recognise continued individual outstanding contribution.

And on Friday, a workshop on ocean acidification takes place which features a panel discussion with industry participants who will discuss the challenges for their sector and how the research community can help.

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