The 5th Meeting of the Southern African Regional Cooperation Group on Safety of Navigation and Marine Protection (SAGNEP) opened this morning at Cyber Tower 1 in EbAne in the presence of the Minister of Ocean economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping, Mr Premdut Koonjoo.
Organised jointly with the Ministry of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping, the two-day meeting is being attended by around 50 local and foreign maritime experts.
In his address, Minister Koonjoo pointed out that the maritime sector in Mauritius plays a key role in its economic development and is poised to become one of the mainstays of the ocean economy especially with the ongoing port developments and intensification of the maritime traffic in the Indian Ocean.
Referring to safety which is a critical factor that underpins all activities of the maritime industry, Minister Koonjoo emphasised that the International Maritime Organisation, as the United Nations specialised agency catering for the regulatory aspects of the maritime industry, has always paid great attention to the improvement of navigational safety. A number of Conventions, codes and guidelines has been put in place to ensure safety and efficiency in the shipping sector, he said.
However, he added, in spite of these systems in place, it has not been possible to prevent maritime disasters. Safety of navigation is very important in the maritime industry since maritime casualties usually result in loss of life, loss of property, pollution of the marine environment and financial loss, he pointed out.
Speaking about the ocean economy which is an important economic pillar for Mauritius, Mr Koonjoo stated that Government is implementing several measures to give a boost to this important sector. To enable effective management of resources and implementations of the provisions of the various International Maritime Organisation conventions, the Ministry of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping is taking appropriate measures for their domestication. The aim of these actions is to make Mauritius the Maritime Hub of this region, he said.
Other measures include: implementation of port development projects by the Mauritius Ports Authority; operation of the Vessel Monitoring System housed at the Fisheries Monitoring Centre situated at the Albion Fisheries Research Centre to prevent, deter and eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated fishing; signing of a contractual agreement between the Ministry and the Mauritius Telecom for the provision of the maritime communication service on a 24/7 basis; and signing of agreement with the Fulcrum Maritime Limited Systems for the provision of the Long Range Identification and Tracking services.
SAGNEP is the only regional cooperation group addressing issues related to aids to navigation and other matters relating to safety of navigation in any region on the African Continent.
It aims at creating a forum for discussions on matters of mutual interest related to safety of navigation and marine environment protection as well as organising and encouraging cooperation in training for the attainment of the required standards of competence, including skills development and research. It also has as objective to promote awareness of the need to establish internationally agreed aids to navigation and maritime safety information services.
SAGNEP regroups 22 Member States namely, Angola, Burundi, Comoros, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, France (Reunion Island), Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Norway, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, United Kingdom (St Helena Island), Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Source: Government of Mauritius