27 June 2017: Diversifying economies beyond land-based activities and along coasts is critical to achieving the sustainable development goals and delivering smart, sustainable and inclusive growth globally.
This statement was made yesterday by the Minister of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, and Shipping, Mr Premdut Koonjoo, at the opening of the Fourth Meeting of Parties of the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA) which is being held from 23 to 30 June 2017 at the Aanari Hotel in Flic en Flac.
Mr Koonjoo recalled that Mauritius is focusing on the ocean economy as a new frontier for development since its ocean territory, with its 2.3 million square kilometers, holds huge economic potential.
The government of Mauritius, he said, is committed to make the ocean economy an important economic pillar. Key sectors, including port infrastructure development, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, offshore renewable energy, marine ICT and capacity building have been identified for investment opportunities, he added.
Minister Koonjoo however highlighted that oceans face complex and transboundary challenges ranging from climate change to Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing (IUU) fishing, pollution, overfishing and piracy. Speaking about IUU fishing, he said that it undermines efforts to conserve and manage fish stock in capture fisheries resulting in both short and long term economic and social loss while adding that this illegal activity has negative impacts on fish stocks, food security and environmental protection.
Several initiatives have been taken by Mauritius to combat IUU fishing. They include the:
- Setting up of a National Plan of Action against IUU fishing
- Establishing a vessel monitoring system
- Implementation of measures in the port in line with FAO port state measures
- Strengthening of legislations
The Committee is monitoring, reviewing and assessing the implementation of, and compliance with the Agreement and make recommendations to the Meeting of the Parties on new compliance and management measures.
During the Fourth Meeting of Parties, participants are reviewing the state of fishery resources, promoting and coordinating research activities. They are also evaluating the impact of fishing on the fishery resources and the marine environment, formulate and adopt conservation and management measures. The adoption of generally recommended international minimum standards for the responsible conduct of fishing operations is also on the agenda.
Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement
SIOFA is a multilateral agreement adopted in July 2006 by the Food and Agriculture Organisation for the conservation and sustainable use of fishery resources in the waters beyond national jurisdiction in the Southern Indian Ocean.
The main objective is to ensure the long term conservation and sustainable use of the fishery resources in the area of competence through cooperation among the Contracting Parties. Another objective is to promote the sustainable development of fisheries, taking into account the needs of developing States bordering the competence area, and in particular the least-developed among them and the Small Island Developing States.