Marine data scientist train key Ministries on the Ocean Health Index

 

APIA, SAMOA – MONDAY 21 MAY 2018: Six environmental data specialists from Government have been selected to take part in an intensive three-day training course on open science this week as part of the Ocean Health Index (OHI) Programme by Conservation International in partnership with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

The training will be conducted by Dr. Julia Lowndes, a renowned marine data scientist and Science Programme Lead for the OHI is from the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Lowndes works to bridge marine science and resource management and contributes to the science and open data science behind OHI assessments and also leads a training program internationally to enable independent groups to assess ocean health and inform policy in their own waters. Increasingly, she is teaching open data science training as an instructor through OHI, NCEAS, Software Carpentry, RLadies, and Mozilla Study Groups (eco-data-science).

Prior to joining the OHI team, Julia earned her Ph.D. at Stanford University, researching potential effects of the Humboldt squid in the California Current System on coastal fisheries in a changing climate. Julia earned her bachelors in science degree from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Dr. Julia Lowndes. Photo credit: Elliot Lowndes

She will be training representatives from the MNRE, Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Samoa Bureau of Statistics as part of Samoa’s OHI National Assessment.

OHI is the first assessment tool that scientifically measures key elements from all dimensions of the ocean’s health — biological, physical, economic and social — to guide decision makers toward the sustainable use of the ocean.

First completed in 2012, more than 65 scientists, economists and environmental managers worked together to develop the global Ocean Health Index, which provides an annual assessment of ocean health around the world using information from over 120 scientific databases. Since then, more than 25 countries and regions have embarked on independent Ocean Health Assessments. Independent assessments use the same framework as the global assessments, but allow for exploration of factors influencing ocean health at the smaller scales where policy and management decisions are made.

Samoa’s global scores have been calculated for the past seven years and this year will be the first OHI national assessment.

National assessments use the same framework as the global assessments, but allow for exploration of variables influencing ocean health at the smaller scales where policy and management decisions are made. Goal models and targets are created using higher resolution data, indicators, and priorities, which produce scores better reflecting local realities.

Lagipoiva Cherelle Jackson, OHI Lead for Samoa says the assessment will serve as a tool for monitoring progress on ocean targets. “This enables scientists, managers, policy makers, and the public to better and more holistically understand, track, and communicate the status of local marine ecosystems, and to design strategic management actions to improve overall ocean health,” she said,

The training is part of a week-long assessment exercise by Dr. Lowndes, which will include a presentation to the Ocean Health Network and a seminar with the Faculty of Science at the National University of Samoa.