Written by Nereus research associate Ryan Swanson,

The final Nippon Foundation Nereus Ocean Science Conference was held at Princeton University in New Jersey on September 14-15th, 2019. Nereus fellows, principal investigators, alumni, research associates and guests reflected on a decade of collaborative and interdisciplinary natural and social ocean research, and celebrated its culmination with the release of the book ‘Predicting Future Oceans: Sustainability of Ocean and Human Systems Amidst Global Environmental Change’. Andrés Cisneros-Montemayor and Katy Seto started the event by giving the introduction, which was followed by welcome remarks by Jorge Sarmiento and special guest Mitsuyuki Unno, executive director at The Nippon Foundation. Over the next two days, six sessions of presentations and panel discussions occurred with the following themes:

1. Changing Ocean Systems

2. Changing Marine Ecosystems

3. Changing Fisheries and Seafood Supply

4. Changing Social Worlds of the Oceans

5. Ocean Governance Beyond Boundaries

6. Opportunities of Changing Ocean Governance for Sustainability

In each session, presenters gave five-minute lightning talks on their research and areas of expertise. Each talk corresponded to a chapter authored by the presenter, and the videos will be uploaded at a future date to Youtube. This will give the public an opportunity view them and learn more about each topic.

Research fellow Muhammed Oyinlola presents on mariculture


Below is a selection of talks and presenters:

  • Climate change adaptation and spatial fisheries management – Becca Selden
  • Changing biomass flows in marine ecosystem: from the past to the future – Hubert du Pontavice
  • The role of cyclical climate oscillations in species distribution shifts under climate change – Sarah Roberts
  • The role of temperature in patterns of range shifts of marine species in North America – Zoë Kitchel
  • Projecting economics of fishing and fishing effort dynamics in the 21st century under climate change – Vicky Lam
  • Mariculture: perception and prospects under climate change – Muhammed Oyinlola
  • The future landscape of the global seafood market – Oai Li Chen
  • The impact of environmental change on small-scale fishing communities: Moving beyond adaptive capacity to community response – William K. Oestreich
  • Ocean policy on the water: incorporating fishers’ perspectives and values – Julia Mason
  • Integration of traditional knowledge in policy for climate adaptation, displacement and migration in the Pacific – Marjo Vierros
  • The role of human rights in socially responsible seafood – Lydia Teh
  • Climate change, mangrove forests and fisheries in southeast Asia and the Caribbean – Frédérique Fardin
  • States’ compliance – Solène Guggisberg
  • From data to decisions: high seas fisheries & biodiversity – Guillermo Ortuño Crespo


Program manager/research associate Vicky Lam presents on projecting the economics of fisheries and fishing effort under climate change in the 21st century


Following the presentations, a panel of experts convened to discuss their thoughts and opinions on the session’s theme, and reflect on the marine issues that should be focused on moving forward.

Panel on changing fisheries and seafood supply. From left to right: moderators Andrés Cisneros-Montemayor & Katy Seto, principal investigator Laurie Chan, Kate Crosman, Helen Packer, Philippe Cury and Jack Kittinger


As part of one discussion on changing marine ecosystems, panelists were asked questions such as ‘What has surprised you the most?’ and ‘What gaps in knowledge do we need to fill?’

“How little we know in certain regards, and how connected everything is. Keeping these things in mind, should we aim to keep these ecosystems in place – is it even possible? It’s a philosophical concern – what is the baseline? How is it determined? It’s human nature to put a box around it and try and conserve it. I’m in favor of restoration.” (paraphrased)

“How much biodiversity is enough to have what we want? As a nature lover, I would say the more the better, but for those who benefit from ecosystem services it may be different.” (paraphrased)

On the second day, attendees were honored by the visit of Yohei Sasakawa, chairman of The Nippon Foundation. He gave a keynote address and participated in a special panel discussion with Nereus alumnus Kelly Kearny and Phillipe Cury, and was then presented with gifts of appreciation on behalf of Nereus Program participants.

Panel discussion on the future state of the oceans. From left to right: director (policy) Yoshitaka Ota, alumnus Kelly Kearney, Philippe Cury and Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa (with translator).


Nereus fellows present The Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa with gifts. From left to right: Gerald Singh, Tiff-Annie Kenny, Julia Mason and chairman Yohei Sasakawa.


The event was concluded with a reflection on the large collaborative and interdisciplinary research effort of the Nereus Program and its participants, and final presentation by director (policy) Yoshitaka Ota, ‘In conclusion: Sustainable and Equitable Relationships Between Oceans and Society’.

Director (policy) Yoshitaka Ota presents to recap and conclude the final Nereus Program meeting. Photo: Tyler Eddy

Frick Chemistry Laboratory Photo: Princeton University, Office of Communications

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