On the 14th of September 2021, PacMAN held the full advisory board meeting. The full report is available here. This first session of the IODE steering group for PacMAN (i.e. PacMAN advisory board) brought together the PacMAN coordinating team with major local stakeholders, representatives of the donor (Flanders Government) and international scientific experts, to adopt the monitoring plan, and discuss the development of the project across the next two years. During the two hour online meeting the work plan including the marine invasive species monitoring plan was introduced, discussed and adopted.
After a prayer from Mr Joape Ginigini, the meeting was opened by Ward Appeltans and a round of introductions of all participants. Dr Ann-Katrien Leskrauwaet, representative of the Government of Flanders introduced the Trust Fund, its objectives and its view for the PacMAN project and its impacts in the region. Mrs Senivasa Waqairamasi, the representative of the Government of Fiji expressed her gratitude on behalf of Fiji for the opportunities that the funding from Flanders has made possible.
Mr. Joape Ginigini discussed the workplan for PacMAN, explaining some delays due to the ongoing COVID19 pandemic. He introduced the strategy that the PacMAN monitoring plan will take in the next two years. Dr. Saara Suominen then gave a brief overview of the monitoring plan including the sampling strategy, sampling sites, and data management plans. The steering group provided a few more recommendations for further improving the monitoring plan.
Recommendations for the development of the PacMAN project in the next two years were reviewed. These included recommendations for the addition of a control site, as well as keeping initial water samples for controls against laboratory contamination in the future. The importance of replicating and consistent time-series as well testing qPCR assays with local species, and sharing the protocols in global databases was highlighted. For the future, the SG-PacMAN recommended to look into collaboration with Flemish ports that are active in biosecurity work, the possible inclusion of citizen science work, surveying also prokaryotic pathogens, and building links with biosecurity authorities in Australia and New Zealand.
The terms of reference and the membership of the steering group were introduced and Ms. Sandeep K. Singh from the ministry of Waterways and Environment was appointed as the chair. The next annual session for the steering group meeting will be held on the 13 September 2022. Finally, Dr. Pier Luigi Buttigieg provided some closing remarks, highlighting that PacMAN is an example pioneering project for combining monitoring with novel methods to support management actions, while closely involving the users of the data products throughout the lifecycle of the project.