March 29, 2005

Tjossem Talks on Int'l Cooperation in Marine Science

Print More

Sara Tjossem Ph.D. ’94, international and public affairs, Columbia University, discussed the development of international cooperation in the marine field yesterday.

Tjossem outlined and discussed the development of the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES) and how its formation traced the history and struggle of bringing about current international marine cooperation.

In 1992, PICES, an intergovernmental scientific organization, was created after approximately 20 years of discussion on developing a regional marine science organization for the North Pacific. Its mission is to promote and coordinate marine scientific research in the North Pacific Ocean in order to advance scientific knowledge of the area concerned and of its living resources. PICES’s present members are Canada, Japan, China, South Korea, Russia and the United States. “PICES is devoted to marine science in its broadest sense,” Tjossem said.

She told the story of how the organization was to be modeled after an earlier effort for cooperative efforts, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), “though not as a template.” In the lecture, Tjossem presented a thorough comparison of the two organizations and international treaties and how they highlighted the tensions in how to best enhance interactions between scientific research and its applications.

She continued to explain why such tensions held such heavy weight and how the effects the social, political and economic realms were profound and many in the developing of cooperative efforts.

The lecture was not only a comprehensive and purposeful endeavor to discuss scientific cooperation, but was “more work on international relations and also international locations for scientific studies,” said Prof. Suman Seth, science and technology studies, co-organizer of the lecture.

“It was a success,” said Nicole Nelson grad.

Tjossem, an affiliate of the Earth Institute at Columbia, later explained how, although such work and discussions may seem abstract to the ordinary masses, it affects everyone.

“They say that the language of science is universal, and it can speak beyond national tensions,” Tjossem said.

If there were more cooperative efforts, there would be more “more understanding before tensions breaks out,” which would lead to “less need for armed intervention,” she said.

Tjossem continues her work, which reveals the constant and contentious interplay of internationalism, national interest and basic science with marine resource management and policy.

With population growth becoming a problem and biodiversity being knocked out artificially, Tjossem said that we need a “better understanding of the natural world and potentially better use of that natural world,” in order to take adequate care of humankind.

The lecture brought forth a mixed crowd of scientists and students. “I find the subject matter interesting,” said Nelson.

The departments of ecology and science and technology studies sponsored the talk.

Archived article by Anita Oh
Sun Contributor