The ocean sustains and connects Pacific Island nations and communities. Along with natural hazards, such as tsunamis, challenges such as sea level rise, ocean acidification and marine debris all impact the well-being of Pacific Island communities. However it is also the ocean itself that holds the key to understanding new and evolving challenges such as the sustainable management of coastal and pelagic fisheries.

The Floating University for the Pacific Islands is a proposed platform for early-career scientists from Pacific Island nations to explore and resolve the key issues affecting their countries and communities. It will combine western science and indigenous and traditional knowledge, over time creating a community of scientists who will be able to draw upon one another’s expertise throughout their careers. The Floating University will initially be based on scheduled cruises by the RV Tangaroa, NIWA’s deep-water research vessel. These planned cruises will be undertaken to service the new Deep-Ocean Assessment and Reporting on Tsunami (DART) network that was established across the southwestern Pacific Ocean to support detection and analysis of potential tsunami risks.

While starting with the Tangaroa, the Floating University concept will create a platform on which other organizations that operate research vessels in the Pacific can also participate and contribute. The Floating University will create a community of participants and provide opportunities for them to share scientific results in local and regional forums and to engage with policy makers who need their science.

This and other research voyages in the Pacific would allow students and early career scientists from Pacific Island nations to conduct research at sea which is driven by community needs and priorities. The Floating University would support cohorts of participants and provide an environment to help young scientists progress in their careers whilst meeting Pacific Island needs for ocean science.

  • Identify solutions that resonate with Pacific Island nations as they address real-world problems and challenges;
  • Research and analyze ocean processes that have profound implications for the region, such as impacts on regional tuna fisheries;
  • Contribute to management strategies for issues like sustainable fisheries, biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, and marine debris;
  • Collaborate Create relationships and partnerships with organizations and scientists that will lead to future opportunities for collaboration; and,
  • Integrate Create opportunities to bring together traditional and indigenous knowledge and western science in at- sea operations and to learn how at-sea research should be modified to conform to the cultural protocols of Pacific Island countries.
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