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Pacific Island Conservation


In September 2011 Trainee Sean Macduff was invited to participate as a panel member in the Asia Pacific Youth Science Exchange Forum (APYSEF) in Okinawa, Japan. The APYSEF was organized by the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) and the University of the Ryukus. This forum brought together the youth from the Asia Pacific region, expanded their knowledge about their resources in order to challenge their respective nations to make positive change.

As a panel member, Macduff had to give an oral presentation on land-based threats to coral reefs – his area of expertise. Macduff spoke about aspects of land-based pollution such as sedimentation, polluted run-off, marine debris, and eutrophication. Macduff also gave examples of possible reef restoration tools including invasive species management, watershed management, improvement of water quality, and better/responsible fishing practices. Macduff also described about how little positive change can make big impacts, at the island level, in the face of climate change and other global issues.

Macduff was also nominated to lead a group discussion identifying the land-based issues student attendees felt were critical issues in their home countries. Students in Macduff’s group hailed from Australia, Hawaii, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Phillippines, and Fiji, The specific issues varied, but several common themes were identified. These common issues included the management of a land-sea unit. These islanders understood that traditional management was successful because they knew that the land and sea were connected. Another issue that emerged was to increase the level of political will and public education/awareness at each respective island nation. Only then can positive change be expected.

Macduff made many valuable connections as a panel member, and had the opportunity to work with the other panel members/professionals from the Solomon Islands, Taiwan, Okinawa, and the United States. Macduff also mentored undergraduate students from Fiji, the Marshall Islands, Taiwan, Okinawa, Guam, Palau, Tonga, Samoa, and the Solomon Islands. These relationships will remain strong and the Trainee will use them in future collaborations.

Address Goals

The trainee worked in a leadership role to identify areas of local, regional, and global island conservation concern. His position as a mentor for Pacific Islanders (those in the US and other countries) allowed him to help train students to think as conservation scientists and incorporate an interdisciplinary perspective. They recognized the power in traditional knowledge, and worked to find ways to incorporate it successfully into modern management practices. The trainee will continue to work with collaborators he met at this conference, and thus will continue to further address the strategic goals of NSF.