06.26.13 PALAU PICRC CEO sits on United Nations Panel

Palau International Coral Reef’s CEO, Dr. Yimnang Golbuu, flew to New York last week to serve as a panelist and speaker for the United Nation’s (UN) fourteenth informal consultative meeting regarding Oceans and the Law of the Sea. The meeting was hosted by the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea and held at the UN Headquarters in New York from June 17th to 20th. It focused discussions on “The impacts of ocean acidification on the marine environment."  Dr. Golbuu environment.” Dr. Golbuu was invited to be an expert speaker and answer questions because of the ocean acidification research he has conducted with PICRC.

The meeting was divided into three segments: 1) the process of ocean acidification, 2)
impacts of ocean acidification, and 3) on-going activities at the local, regional, and global levels. Dr. Golbuu participated in panel discussions during the segment entitled “Impacts of ocean acidification and on-going activities at the global, regional and national levels to address these impacts." Other panelists included Dr. Carol Turley, a Senior Scientist at Plymouth Lab (United Kingdom), Dr. Yoshihisa Shirayama, Executive Director of Research for the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, Dr. Nathalie Jeanne-Marie Hilmi, Researcher for the Centre Scientifique de Monaco, Mr. Cliff Law, Principal Scientist for the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand, Dr.. Bill Dewey, Director  of  Public Policy and Communications for Taylor Shellfish Farms, Dr. Robert B. Dunbar, W.M. Keck Professor of Earth Science, Stanford University.

Dr. Golbuu’s presentation took place on June 18th provide hope for the future of coral reefs in the face of climate change.” During his presentation, Dr. Golbuu discussed the environmental stressors on coral reefs caused by the globe’s rapidly changing ocean chemistry. He noted that “in Palau’s waters we have made an amazing discovery - that reefs with the highest cover and diversity are actually sitting in waters with pH and aragonite saturation rate which are predicted for the end of this century.” Thus, Palau, with its rich natural resources and amazing biodiversity, may hold the key to the survival of coral reefs in the face of climate change because several reefs within Palau’s waters are able to thrive in high temperature and high acidity environments, such as are predicted to become common in the future. Studying these reefs will help conservationists better understand  how corals are able to live and survive in these conditions.  Unlocking the mysteries in these areas provides hope for the future of coral reefs in the world.

Dr. Golbuu concluded his presentation with several recommendations for protecting Palau’s coral reefs. He argued the importance of recognizing that threats of climate change (e.g., coral bleaching and acidification) take place at multiple scales, from site level to regional level, and it is therefore necessary to implement conservation efforts at multiple scales as well.  He recommended:

- Reducing local stressors that affect key processes that offer coral reef resilience
-Identify resilient sites throughout Palau to incorporate them into Palau’s Protected Areas Network (PAN) to offer them better protection.
-Conduct studies to identify additional resilient sites and determine how coral communities are able to grow in these resilient sites
-Internationally, focus all efforts on reducing  CO2 emissions  throughout the world

PICRC’s mission is to be an International Center of Excellence to support conservation and management for the perpetuation of marine and associated environments through research and education that is significant to Palau and relevant to the world. Participation in international discussions, such as the UN panel discussion on ocean acidification, ensures that  Palau’s local and regional conservation concerns are given due consideration and, thus, helps fulfill the Center’s mission.

For more information about PICRC’s research, please visit www.picrc.org or “like” PICRC on Facebook.