On Wednesday 24 April, excited members of the Nanikai community gathered to their community hall in Tarawa atoll, Kiribati to participate in the New Zealand Pacific Partnership Ocean Acidification (NZPPOA) workshop.  The NZPPOA project being implemented by Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) aims to build resilience to ocean acidification (OA) in Pacific Island communities and ecosystems.  Nanikai community is one of the pilot sites for the project.

Figure 1:  Participants of the workshop at Nanikai community (PC: MFMRD Media) 

One of the objectives of the three day workshop was to strengthen understanding of participants on OA and train them in delivering their own OA awareness program and other related ocean stressors.  The workshop included interactive sessions, games and songs which the participants delivered to their community on the last day. 

The sessions were well received by participants because it utilised materials that are readily available in the community and it boosted their self-confidence on the topic, as one community representative mentioned “Nanikai community is so fortunate to have this opportunity, particularly understanding ocean acidification because at first it sounded difficult but now I am confident to talk about it and share this understanding with our people”. 

Once the participants were quite familiar with OA and its impacts the workshop then moved into its second objective which was identifying realistic and suitable adaptation actions that the community can implement to address OA.  The identification of key national stakeholders and ministries to support implementation and of the work plan was also discussed.  This was done in group discussions where various concerns were also raised. 

To stop ocean acidification, carbon dioxide needs to be lowered but this is an action that is out of Nanikai hands” a community leader raised during deliberation. 

Ms. Maria Sapatu, NZPPOA Technical Assistant who led the workshop explained that “Yes lowering carbon dioxide is a global issue but adaptation actions can be directly or indirectly towards ocean acidification.  For example, directly is to lower carbon dioxide or off-setting carbon with replanting mangroves and indirectly is alternative fishing areas such as fish aggregating devices that alleviates pressure on coral reefs.  Nanikai’s actions will set an example for others to follow and can be a local voice towards negotiations of carbon emissions on a global scale”.    

Figure 2: Nanikai community discussions at the workshop lead by Fisheries representatives (PC: MFMRD Media) 

The workshop was successful in achieving its main objectives of strengthening understanding on OA and identifying adaptation actions for Nanikai pilot site and it was done with great collaboration with national Ministries. 

The workshop was made possible through the support of Kiribati’s Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resource Development (MFMRD), Ministry of Environment Land and Agriculture Development (MELAD) and funding assistance from New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Government of the Principality of Monaco.