Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is an excellent strategy to advance the development of oceanic resources and combat climate change issues. Mauritius is promoting key maritime sectors such as port infrastructure, shipping, tourism, seafood, fisheries, aquaculture and marine renewable energy so as to strengthen its economic diversification. This has led to an increasing demand for marine space which needs to be accompanied by improved management of coastal and marine environment.
This statement was made by Sir Anerood Jugnauth, Minister Mentor and Minister of Defence and Rodrigues, this morning at Voilà Hotel in bagatelle. He was speaking at the opening of a Regional Training Workshop on MSP which is being held from 8 to 12 October 2018.
In his keynote address, Sir Anerood Jugnauth underlined the need for a well-designed Marine Spatial Plan that minimises the conflicting use of maritime space. He stated that the elaboration of the Marine Spatial Plan is also in line with the implementation of the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals which have been adhered to by the Government of Mauritius.
According to him, the key components of an MSP should include clear objectives, stakeholder participation and define the geographic boundaries. A comprehensive MSP requires the availability and analysis of high quality geospatial data originating from reliable sources. In this regard, the collaboration among local, regional and international stakeholders is essential for the success of the MSP process. MSP can only be a harbinger of wealth to the population of our countries and of health to our marine environment, he added.
Speaking about the importance of a Marine Spatial Plan, Sir Anerood Jugnauth highlighted that it is becoming an imperative for coastal states and more so during the recent years with the sharp increase in economic activities all throughout our Maritime Zones. He recalled that Government has in 2017 agreed to the elaboration of a Marine Spatial Plan for the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Republic of Mauritius. The main purpose of the plan is to elaborate and embark into a strategy for the development of our oceanic industry in accordance with national policies and our engagement for the preservation, protection and improvement of our marine environment as testified by Government’s Vision 2030, he said.
For his part, the Director General of the Department for Continental Shelf, Maritime Zones Administration and Exploration, Dr Rezah Badal underlined that MSP has been at the focus of interest in the world especially in heavily used marine space since it offers coastal countries an operational framework to maintain the value of their marine biodiversity while at the same time allowing a sustainable use of the economic potential of their oceans.
He recalled that the Republic of Mauritius comprises a vast Exclusive Economic Zone extending to 2.3 million square kilometres. In addition, it shares Extended Continental over an area of around 400,000 square kilometres, which it jointly manages with the Republic of Seychelles. Such an expanse of the ocean calls for a thoughtful plan for its management and more so if we want to maximise its economic and social benefits, he added.
The Regional Training Workshop
Some 50 technicians from French-speaking African countries including Comoros, Madagascar, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ivory Coast, as well as Reunion Island / France, Seychelles and Mauritius are participating in the workshop. It is a joint initiative of the Department for Continental Shelf, Maritime Zones Administration and Exploration, the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, the United Nations Environment Programme and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association.
The workshop will provide a platform to examine MSP practices and allow participants to use their critically knowledge to then formulate tailored-made MSP applications including governance frameworks, stakeholders’ engagement and spatial zoning to their respective maritime domain.
Mauritius has set up an MSP Coordinating Committee, bringing together all the relevant stakeholders to support the elaboration of a holistic plan. The first task was to gather information on the existing maritime uses and jurisdiction and then to bring the various actors on the same platform for a concerted planning.
Mauritius has so far established three technical working groups. These working groups are now focussing their actions on three themes: New Economic Activities addressing issues related to aquaculture sites, marina development and tourism and recreational activities; Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG14) to achieve Target 14.5, that is conserving 10% of the marine area by 2020 and provide a relevant indicator for measurement; and mainstreaming Biodiversity Project–Establishing an electronic platform depicting geographical database concerning Environmentally Sensitive Areas within the framework of our Ocean Observatory.
Source: Government of Mauritius