Collaboration and boundary-making in the Blue Pacific

A short update on the movements of our OceanStates project leader.

Edvard* has been kept quite busy here in Bergen since the start of the new year, but when the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and its ocean director Jens Krüger invited him to Sydney recently, he cleared time in his schedule and made the trip, also building in some intensive days of meetings in Canberra..

Discussing highly migratory fish stocks and their blatant disregard for maritime boundaries, with Kaburoro Ruaia of Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, FFA (Left)

In mid-February, Edvard traveled to Australia to participate in an exciting week of SPC meetings on Pacific Maritime Boundaries, held at the University of Sydney. While also catching up with Pacific and global friends and colleagues, Edvard had the opportunity to engage in deep discussions on issues such as sea-level rise, fish migration and exclusive economic zones with representatives of most Pacific Island countries, among them ocean governance experts like Kaburoro Ruaia of the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), Daniel Damilea of Solomon Islands Attorney General Chambers, and Yoli Tom’Tavala from the Trobriand Islands of Papua New Guinea, maritime legal adviser of the SPC. Yoli and Edvard have followed each other’s work since the early 1990s when both did groundbreaking research on customary marine tenure, but for some strange reason they had never before met!


Edvard (on the right) with Daniel Damilea of Solomon Island Attorney General’s Chambers

Edvard then continued on to Canberra, where he met up with Kari James, the Executive Officer of the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau (PAMBU) at the Australian National University (ANU), to discuss exciting plans for further cooperation and digitalization of Pacific manuscripts. The University of Bergen (UiB) is the only European member institution of PAMBU, allowing Bergen Pacific Studies (BPS) and colleagues who visit Bergen the privilege of digital access to an extraordinary range of archival sources from across the Pacific Islands. Inspiring meetings were also held with many fellow Pacific scholars, including Margaret Jolly and Katerina Teaiwa (OceanStates project partners at the ANU), and with Solomon Islands friends and colleagues in town: Dr. Transform Aqorau (distinguished Pacific tuna fisheries chief in Canberra on a writing retreat) and Derek Futaiasi (studying political science at the ANU).

While in Canberra, Edvard also enjoyed conversations on Norway-Pacific cooperation, sustainable development and science diplomacy with the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Australia, a long-standing dialogue partner of both BPS and UiB in our many shared Pacific fields of engagement. Several new Norwegian initiatives in the region were planned with Ambassador Paul Gulleik Larsen, Deputy Head of Mission Beate Gabrielsen and Pacific Adviser Valerie Bichard.



Stay tuned for more updates on engaging meetings and fieldwork experiences as OceanStates gains speed!


Edvard with the SPC’s Yoli Tom’Tavala


Edvard with Kari James at the Pacific Manuscripts Bureau


Taking time for a group photo after an excellent meeting with employees at the Norwegian Embassy



*Professor Edvard Hviding is the leader of the OceanStates project. He is director of the Bergen Pacific Studies (BPS) research group at the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Bergen.