GIS - 06 February, 2020: Within the objective of converting the Blue Economy into a robust pillar of the country, the sustainability of our marine resources is a key component. Hence the need to act in a responsible and responsive manner for the benefit of the present and future generations.
This was the gist of the message of the Minister of Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping, Mr Sudheer Maudhoo, this morning, at the launching of the project entitled “Enhancing livelihoods, food security and maritime safety through increased resilience of fishing communities dependent on coral reef fisheries in the African coastal countries of the Indian Ocean” at the Labourdonnais Hotel, Port Louis. The Ambassador of Japan in Mauritius, Mr Yoshoharu Kato, the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Christine Umutoni, were also present.
The Government of Japan and the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) signed an agreement in 2019 for the implementation of the project for “Enhancing livelihoods, food security and maritime safety through increased resilience of fishing communities dependent on coral reef fisheries in the African coastal countries of the Indian Ocean.” The total budget is of the order of USD 4.4 Million for a period of three years (01 November 2019 to 31 October 2022). The participating countries are Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles.
The Minister highlighted that Mauritius, as a Small Island Developing State, is particularly vulnerable to many natural calamities adding that it is important to use the best available scientific data to guide policies and introduce appropriate programmes for our sustainable development.
Speaking about the project, Mr Maudhoo stated that innovation and value addition will be the key factors for improving the resilience of the fishing communities in the future. The concerns of the industry and consumers will also need to be addressed to ensure a better adequacy between fish supply and the needs of the fish market, he said.
Furthermore, he indicated that an important component of the project is to improve coral reef fisheries production for food security. The restoration of our fragile ecosystems will help to assist fishing communities to better manage their coral reef resources. He recalled that as an island economy, Mauritius is very dependent on the sea and its resources for the fisheries and tourism industries. The fisheries sector has always contributed to the nation’s socio economic development, generated national income and foreign exchange through the export of frozen and processed fish, and also providing employment and most importantly, it has been an indispensable source of animal protein for the people and contributes to food security, he added.
For his part, the Ambassador of Japan in Mauritius, Mr Yoshoharu Kato, expressed the need for a continuous investment to the Blue Economy in the region and called for a more energised effort in sustainable management of maritime resources. He indicated that the SIDS and coastal ‘mainland’ countries of eastern Africa are endowed with extensive coral reefs which are being affected by climate change. He added that the Blue Growth initiative of the FAO provides a framework with tools and approaches to improve their fisheries and to manage for sustainability along the value chain to meet production needs while contributing to enhanced livelihoods, food security and maritime safety.
UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Christine Umutoni, recognised the continuous and effective collaboration between FAO and Japan and indicated that this project will help improve the livelihood of people in the targeted countries. She added that the project will target hundreds of small-scale fishers and other fisheries professionals in the five countries, totalling 30 000 direct beneficiaries. The project will, by rendering the fish and crustacean value chains more efficient, contribute to rational and sustainable exploitation of coral reefs areas in the different project areas in the five participating countries, establishing various Marine Protected Areas and diversifying certain fisheries operations. Thus it will improve food security, reduce poverty and contribute to resilient fishing communities, she stated.
The objective of the project is to improve coral reef fisheries production for food security through restoring fragile ecosystems and assisting fishing communities to better manage their coral reef resources. The overall impact of the project will be “resilient coral reef fisheries communities” by targeting the following outcomes: improved management of coral reef fisheries both for restoration and protection as well as for income generation; improved fishery value chains and access to markets for coral reef fisheries products; and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing reduced and maritime safety increased.
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