PCCOS shows how integrating science from different fields makes for better decisions

by Claire Heath | 7 August 2019 | News

PCOSS can help decision-makers in the Pacific Islands ensure that locals like these two Papua New Guineans, continue to be owners of their fishery resources. Photo: Francisco Blaha.

Staff of the new Pacific Community Centre for Ocean Science (PCCOS) played a game to demonstrate to Pacific Community (SPC) leaders at their June meeting how better decisions arise when decision-makers can integrate knowledge from many different scientific and technical fields. 

SPC’s Committee of Representatives of Governments and Administrations (CRGA) agreed at the meeting to expand the new centre of excellence in ocean science.

The Director of SPC’s Geoscience, Energy and Maritime Division, Dr Andrew Johns, explained in a video about PCOSS why the work of the centre is needed.

“The ocean is a great, interconnected system, and while we tend to work in sectors, the ocean doesn’t behave in sectors. So, what happens in one area what happens in another area, and we have to manage it accordingly,” Dr Johns says.

He says that, by bringing together all the science that’s happening across SPC, PCOSS makes it easier for information about one area or sector to be informed by science from all the other areas. This allows governments and communities to make better decisions that support communities in integrated ways.

Fresh tuna sliced and displayed for sale in Noumea shop. Photo credit: FFA.
Fresh tuna for sale in Noumea … to manage fisheries to ensure continued supplies of tuna for generations, decision-makers need access now to integrated scientific knowledge from services such as PCOSS. Photo credit: FFA.

The data and information also needs to be accessible and well-communicated.

“A key part of what we’re doing is making sure we’re translating science in a way that’s understandable to people,” Dr Johns says.

“Better science leads to better decision-making.”

Much of the information and data that PCOSS pulls together is available from the Pacific Data Hub, a web platform that pools all SPC’s data. One of its 12 themes is fisheries.

Dr Johns says PCOSS is useful nationally, to help individual countries manage their maritime zones, and internationally, because it can “provide a voice for the Pacific”. 

The establishment of PCCOS (pronounced pea-coss) was announced at the Pacific Community’s 70th anniversary celebrations in 2017. SPC’s Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems division was given the job of setting it up. It worked with two other parts of SPC, the Geoscience, Energy and Maritime Division and the Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability Programme, to get the centre up and running. 

The 49th CRGA meeting was held at the SPC headquarters in Noumea, New Caledonia.