The Solomon Islands Meteorological Services (SIMS) is committed to their role as one of the authorities responsible for ensuring the safety and well-being of mariners in the Solomon Islands, by providing Ocean and Climate Services; and Marine Weather Services, to for all travellers in Solomon Islands.
As a country with six major islands and over 900 smaller islands, more than 75% of the population of Solomon Islands live in the rural areas, mostly around the coast. Surrounded by ocean, most of the rural communities use outboard motors or small crafts for fishing and as a means of transportation for many years to travel from island to islands.
The growing number of ocean-related incidents that have occurred has been a growing concern for Solomon Islands authorities, particularly the SIMS. This prompted them to host a workshop to bring together all responsible national agencies, stakeholders and community members to inform them of information provided by SIMS on ocean and marine weather services, and to discuss activities and proposed plans for the safety of local sea travellers.
Experiences and lessons learnt were shared by all stakeholders that have roles and responsibilities relating to Ocean and Marine Weather services, on how to address gaps and challenges that enhances safety and well-being of the communities, as well as providing a platform for discussion on various issues identified.
Honourable Dickson Mua Panakitasi, Minister for Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology of the Government of Solomon Islands, said, “In recognising the need to improve ocean and marine weather services in Solomon Islands, my Ministry, through the SIMS, has established Climate and Ocean services.”
“We are carrying on from our ancestors under newer biophysical and socioeconomic circumstances, but with the benefits of modern science and technology to support us in our endavours in the ocean,” Hon. Mua added. “In this connection, the need for accurate, timely, and appropriate technical and scientific weather and ocean services cannot be over-emphasised.”
The workshop was funded by the Government of Ireland, the Climate Risk Early Warning System Pacific Small Island Developing States (CREWS Pacific SIDS) project and the Environment and Climate Change Canada through the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), and the Government of Solomon Islands.
Mr Henry Taiki, WMO Regional Programme Officer, stated that the CREWS Pacific SIDS project seeks to enhance the capacity of Pacific Island countries and territories’ National Meteorological and Hydrological Services to predict extreme and high impact hydro-meteorological events and associated risks, and has implemented a number of activities to achieve this, including hosting the Sustainable Ocean and Marine Weather Services for a Safe and Resilient Solomon Islands workshop.
The Pacific Island Meteorological Strategy 2017-2026 which was endorsed in Honiara at the Fourth Pacific Meteorological Council meeting, identifies Marine Weather services as one of the key priority area for coordination and investment.
Director of SPREP’s Climate Change Resilience Programme, Ms Tagaloa Cooper, said, “I would like to congratulate the SIMS for their foresight, for being the first Met Service in the region to recruit a permanent Oceans and Marine officer to support this important work. It is our hope that other Met services will be able to make similar arrangements.”
She also pointed out that with the official declaration of a La Niña event by several scientific institutions around the world and Pacific, close collaboration between all stakeholders is crucial, as the La Niña may lead to coastal inundation due to higher sea levels, as well as poor visibility at seas which may result in accidents or loss of life.
For more information on Ocean and Marine weather services, please contact the Pacific Meteorological Desk Partnership at [email protected].