Pacific Solution Exchange (PSE), a knowledge-sharing forum, has put the recurrence of abundant seaweed blooms on a Fiji island high on agenda for climate change discussion across all Pacific islands this month.
Prompting the discussion is Dr. Antoine De Ramon N'Yeurt, research fellow with the European Union Global Climate Change Alliance Project at the Pacific Center for Environmental and Sustainable Development (PACE-SD) at the University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji.
"We suspect the sudden bloom of this normally discrete seaweed over the last few years is caused by recent changes in the environment, like the rise in seawater temperatures due to climate change, poor water circulation in the lagoons, and an increase in man-made nutrients and pollution," he said.
"This is causing environmental issues as it smothers traditional fishing grounds and reduces the productivity of the reef flats by taking nutrients and oxygen out of the water, and also displaces the normal seaweed assemblages that grow there," he said.
Local communities affected by the influx of seaweed and the foul rotten-egg odor it produces have asked the PACE-SD to help solve the problem.
"The seaweed influx is not environmentally friendly, it is also unsightly and causes a severe odor problem, as it rots and releases noxious gases such as hydrogen sulfide," N'Yeurt said in a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) press release on Thursday.
N'Yeurt, who has devoted the last 20 years to studying tropical Pacific marine botany, ecology and taxonomy, climate change and the marine environment, said he hoped responses to this PSE discussion would help all those studying climate change to better understand and address this issue.
He is interested in hearing from people in the Pacific and internationally, about whether the problem is occurring elsewhere; its possible causes and solutions; and how people could sustainably use the seaweed as compost or fertilizer for example, or as biomass for renewable energy in ocean afforestation projects.
The Pacific Solution Exchange is an email-based knowledge sharing service that enables people across the Pacific to ask each other questions and share answers, insights, experiences and lessons to help each other in climate change and disaster risk work.