GIS - 22 August, 2019: A two-day workshop on BioFouling Management and Invasive Aquatic Species, organised by the Ministry of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping in collaboration with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), was opened this morning by the Minister of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping, Mr Premdut Koonjoo, at The Ravenala Attitude Hotel, Balaclava.
The Project Technical Manager of the GEF-IMO-UNDP GloFouling Partnerships of IMO, Mrs Lilia Khodjet El Khil, as well as high officials of the Ministry were also present.
In his keynote address, Minister Koonjoo lauded the efforts of the Global Environment Facility, the United Nations Development Programme (GEF-UNDP) and the IMO for this high level global environmental project, namely the “GEF-UNDP-IMO GloFouling Partnership Project”, which, according to him, is of great importance to Small Island Developing States (SIDSs), especially to Mauritius as the country has an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of about 2.3 million square kilometers. As a Small Island Developing State, he added, Mauritius is heavily dependent on international trade with more than 90% of trade coming via sea routes.
He highlighted that it is essential that greater sustainability is brought in the ocean economy sector including international shipping as around 30,000 vessels transit through the Indian Ocean annually, and is expected to increase with the massive development being undertaken by the Mauritius Port Authority in the Port.
Speaking about the transfer of harmful aquatic species through Biofouling, Mr Koonjoo pointed out that the Shipping Division of his Ministry has developed two ballast water management projects for the Biological Port Baseline surveys of Port-Louis and Port Mathurin harbours.
He emphasised that his Ministry has entered into an agreement with the Mauritius Oceanography Institute in 2016 to undertake the Ships’ Biofouling project in Port Louis harbor. The project aims at establishing international best practice for ship hull sampling; developing appropriate methods for application in surveys; providing guidance towards detailed vessel hull inspections; developing ship specific risk assessment; providing guidance for decision support for inspection of vessels; developing hydrodynamic model for Port-Louis Harbour; and; training of a team of local scientists, divers and surveyors.
The Minister acknowledged the fact that coupled with the benefits associated with international shipping, certain drawbacks including the negative impacts of maritime transport on the marine environment are inevitable. The Government, he stated, has taken a number of initiatives to counter threats such as the discharge of ballast water and hull Biofouling from ships as well as the transfer and spread of marine invasive and alien species from new regions, through: the application of the IMO’s guidelines; the development of its own hull cleaning guidelines and designed its national Ships’ Biofouling Project, which is in line with the IMO proposal.
Furthermore, the Government has set up a National Ocean Council, which is the driving force and monitoring agency for all ocean-related projects and development, and is presently working on its marine spatial plan for the effective management of the maritime zones with respect to security, exploration, protection of resources and development, he added.
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