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MELBOURNE, Australia (April 17, 2000 -- Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat)---Japan this week is hosting a major international conference on the deployment of weather monitoring buoys in the Asia/Pacific region.

Representatives from regional organizations, including the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC), are attending the meeting in Tokyo.

SOPAC Director Alf Simpson said the meeting will help Pacific Island countries learn more about important climate change issues that involve global warming.

"It’s all very well for us to measure what’s up in the air, but the Pacific Ocean also plays a tremendous and unknown part in controlling climate change and sea level rise," he said during an interview with Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat. "We need to keep up with the foreign countries in monitoring the ocean."

Simpson said an international program being discussed at the conference involves the deployment of 3,000 climate buoys throughout the world’s oceans. Measurements are taken underwater for 10 days and the data is then transmitted via satellite to a central station.

"They will deploy buoys in areas where people are receptive to them," he said. "If these buoys float into Pacific countries that don’t want it, we won’t be getting that (kind of) information. We need to send a message to people in this program that the Pacific welcomes these buoys."

Simpson said the Pacific can reap many benefits from the study.

"There’s all kinds of spin-offs, from fisheries to tourism and weather," he said. "It’s a type of program we should be involved in."

For additional reports from Radio Australia/Pacific Beat, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia/Pacific Beat.

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