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Experts converge on UNILAG to explore benefits of marine science

A Professor of Physical Oceanography at the University of Michigan, U.S., Brian Arbic, has called for more representation of Africa in global science.

University of Lagos Unilag
University of Lagos, Akoka

Arbic made the call on Friday, August 5, 2022, in an interview.

He spoke on the side-lines of a weeklong 2022 Coastal Ocean Environment Summer School in Nigeria (COESAN) held at the University of Lagos (UNILAG).

The programme, which began on Monday, is an annual event.

The 2022 edition was organised by UNILAG in collaboration with the University of Michigan and the Nigeria Institute of Marine Research.

According to Arbic, Africa is one of the largest continents in the world and there is need for Africans to be actively engaged in making decisions about marine.

“This programme called Coastal Environment Summer School is the first time it will be hosted in Nigeria and also the first time it will be done in both the virtual and physical forms since its inception in 2015 in Ghana.

“It is basically a one-week summer school for oceanography that helps people to learn about the ocean, its importance and challenges such as pollution and overfishing.

“It also seeks to build up a network of people working around the world with Africans, so that they can collaborate with Americans and Europeans on ocean problems.

“Africa, being one of the largest continents in the world, needs therefore to be better represented in the global enterprise such as publishing scientific papers, being in international communities and making decisions about marine,” he said.

According to the don, the summer school is also aimed at promoting marine science in Africa as well as collaborations among marine scientists in Africa and the world at large.

He said that the programme had participants from the University of Michigan, University of Lagos, Ghana, China, Liberia and Malaysia, physically and virtually.

On the impact of the programme on students, Arbic said: “This is the first time we are hosting the programme here, in Nigeria, but if you go back to Ghana, where we had been holding the programme, students have learnt about new technologies.

“They can apply it on scientific research, we hope to bring same to Nigeria”.

Arbic urged support for the programme, noting that collaborations usually brought about progress.

He lauded UNILAG for efforts to ensure success of the event.

Dr Owoyemi Elegbeye of UNILAG’s Department of Marine Science, said that it was important to understand that 70 per cent of the earth was water.

According to him, 90 per cent of the water is ocean water.

Elegbeye, a member of the event’s local organising committee, said it was unfortunate that humans were not tapping enough from ocean resources.

“We must take cognisance of the things that really matter to humans. We must dig more into the usefulness of ocean and the things therein and see how it can be applied to our daily living.

“We fall short of adequate research in this aspect of human existence; that is part of the essence of this whole programme holding in UNILAG for the first time.

“Our aim is to see how people can get to know more about the benefits of ocean and marine science.

“This programme had been held in Ghana annually; in the past two years, 2020 and 2021, it was held virtually following the pandemic.

“For the first time, it is holding here, in Nigeria, right in our campus,’’ he said.

He also noted that the summer school was being done both physically and virtually for the first time.

“The populace should be sensitised massively about this, starting from the advantages, because what you don’t know, you cannot tap from. It is critical that we spread the news,” Elegbeye said.

UNILAG’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, described the programme as timely.

He said that it was in line with the institution’s resolve to intensify research activities among students and staff.

Ogundipe was represented by Prof. Bola Oboh, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic and Research).

According to Ogundipe, UNILAG is excited to host the event.

He said that networking remained critical to knowledge advancement.

“I am of’ the opinion that a lot still needs to be done particularly in West Africa,
considering the fact that it is bound by a lot of water.

“What happens in the aquatic space is important and needs a lot of research on.

“It is, therefore, important that we dig deep into the programme to ensure that
participants have something good to take back home,” he said.

By Chinyere Nwachukwu

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