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2010 Pacific Islands GIS/RS Conference opens

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Close to 200 participants were told by SOPAC’s Director, Dr. Russell Howorth, that the development of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing will continue to be a major part of the SOPAC technical support service work programme.

SOPAC provides assistance to 21 island countries in the Pacific region through applied geoscience and technology.

Dr. Howorth was speaking at the 2010 Pacific Islands Geographic Information System (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS) Conference being currently being held in Suva, Fiji.

In his comments, Dr. Howorth referred to a new regional arrangement in which SOPAC the commission will become SOPAC the division of SPC from the 1st of January 2011.

But he assured those in attendance that “the SOPAC work programme and in particular for the GIS and Remote Sensing Technical Support Services, it will be business as usual and if at all possible, it will get better with improved service delivery to the region.”   

Dr. Howorth said that, in fact, the GIS and Remote Sensing has been a critical part of the SOPAC work programme for nearly the past two decades, Ground Information Systems (GIS) is the use of satellite technology to map details in specific areas on earth that can help in planning, security, and evaluation.

Remote sensing is any technology that can be used to create maps without having to physically touch the territory being described.  These remote sensing technologies are often deployed from a plane or satellite.

Dr. Howorth provided a brief history of the development of GIS and Remote Sensor, highlighting its growth in the region and brought particular attention to Philipp Mueller, the then Director of SOPAC from l992 to 1998.

He said that Mr. Mueller in l994 prophetically observed that “geographic information systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing have become essential technologies that the SOPAC Secretariat is rapidly adopting. Though these development efforts show little immediate return, they will have tremendous benefits in the future.”

It was the year that SOPAC was given the regional coordination responsibility for GIS and Remote Sensing.
Speaking of the future, Dr. Howorth said that in the merger between SOPAC and SPC that GIs and Remote Sensing applications will grow through this process.

“This is because SPC has more member countries than SOPAC and within SPC, GIS and Remote Sensing applications will grow and will result in stimulating applications in the Pacific island countries. GIS and Remote Sensing applications for vegetation mapping and demography are good examples of this process.”

The conference will end on Friday, November 26

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 May 2011 17:00  


The High Commissioner for Kiribati in Fiji, Ms Retata Nikuata-Rimon, yesterday thanked the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) for assisting her atoll nation with its maritime boundaries, hydrographic nautical charts and deep-sea mining.

On the latter, she said it was an area ‘in which there is growing interest as it offers potential for social and economic development, although we must be cautious about the environmental impact’.

Ms Nikuata-Rimon made these comments at the 42nd Committee of Representatives of Governments and Administrations (CRGA) meeting, which is being held at the SPC headquarters in Noumea from 12 to 16 November.

CRGA is a committee of SPC’s governing body, the Conference of the Pacific Community, which meets every two years.

Earlier this year, at the Forum Leaders’ meeting in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, seven Pacific Island countries and territories (Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Marshall Islands, Tokelau and Tuvalu,) signed and exchanged a total of eight maritime boundary agreements.

In addition, Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Nauru signed a trilateral treaty on the ‘Tri-Junction Point’, a point where the exclusive economic zones of all three countries intersect.

SPC’s Applied Geoscience and Technology Division supported the countries in the determination of the agreed boundaries, working collaboratively with members and with support from SPC’s Fisheries, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems Division and the Forum Fisheries Agency.

Agreement on boundaries has taken many years of work, often involving sensitive negotiations between members. The signing of these treaties has brought to just under 30 the total number of treaties concluded out of a total of 48 boundaries.