GIS- 18 December 2015: The achievements for the year 2015 in the fisheries, maritime and ocean economy sectors were the focus of a press meeting organised yesterday by the Minister of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, Shipping and Outer Islands, Mr Premdut Koonjoo in Port Louis.
The ministry has been created since a year and is a very important one for Mauritius as it is a pillar that would unlock investments and create jobs. The blue economy, he said, has also become the talk of the globe and Mauritius with its vast Exclusive Economic Zone is called upon to play an important role in helping the country transform into an Ocean State.
Ocean economy and marine resources
The Minister recalled that the National Ocean Council has been set up in June 2015 with the mandate to drive the development of the ocean related activities in line with the Government Economic Mission Statement.
Regarding the Deep Ocean Water Application project for the refrigeration of Port Louis, he stated that a letter of intent has been issued to Sotravic Co Ltd. This initiative is expected to reduce the country’s consumption of crude oil. The project will be operational next year.
Other projects under ocean economy include: consultancy services by the Commonwealth Secretariat in the field of ocean economy; improvement of sea and air facilities at Agalega for which funds to the tune of USD 18 million will be given as grant by the Government of India; capacity building in the field of exploration and exploitation of marine resources and resource mapping; research and development of technologies and planning and policy development for harnessing ocean energy; and research and development in marine biotechnology and the creation of centres of excellence.
He also announced that the new building of the Mauritius Oceanography Institute will be inaugurated early next year. To the tune of Rs 162 million, it is equipped with appropriate tools and technologies.
In a bid to sensitise the young population on the various career opportunities in the maritime sector both on board ships as well as on shore and to increase the number of batches of students being trained at the Mauritius Maritime Training Academy (MMTA), the Ministry has taken several initiatives.
These include: launching of evening and weekend classes, shortening of course duration from 25 to 19 days, and reduction of fees for the basic safety course and for medical examinations from Rs 21 000 to Rs 7 000. Recruitment in the maritime sector from January to November 2015 is 1124 comprising 913 males and 211 females. The MMTA will train around 800 persons by the end of the year with the ultimate objective of training 2000 persons yearly.
The Mauritius Shipping Corporation Ltd (MSCL) has made financial losses totaling Rs 260 million over the past five consecutive years, he added. As a result, he said, the Government took the decision that a restructuring exercise be carried out at MSCL in order to put the company back into profit making track. The restructuring plan was finalised in October 2015 and the implementation of same is in progress. He also announced that MSCL will purchase a second hand cargo vessel as a back-up of Mauritius Trochetia which will be fully financed by its own funds.
Minister Koonjoo highlighted that a lot of importance is being given to aquaculture which has become the fastest growing food-producing sector and accounts for nearly 50% of the world’s food fish. As such, the Ministry has initiated several measures to encourage people to join this new industry.
These are: approval of five large-scale projects to the tune of Rs 12 million; allocation of three
‘barachois’ to three promoters for culture of fish, crabs, oyster and sea cucumber with a total investment of Rs 115 million; and distribution of 10 floating cage structures to fishermen associations and cooperatives.
Ten fishermen have benefited funds to the tune of Rs 2 million for the purchase of fiber glass fishing boat “cannottes”. Some 133 fishmongers have been trained in "Fish Handling, Preservation and Marketing”. Around 21 Fish Aggregating Devices have been installed to divert fishing effort from the heavily exploited lagoon to offshore areas for better catch.
From January to September 2015, 101 640 tonnes of fish and fish product have been exported. Export of fish amounted to Rs 10.4 billion for the period January to September 2015. A total of 423 tonnes of aquaculture products have been exported from January to November 2015. Direct and indirect employment in fisheries sector is 22,000.
Outer Islands Development Corporation (OIDC)
The Minister said that a series of measures have been put in place for the welfare of the inhabitants of the Outer Islands. They are: decrease of cost of ticket for Agalean relatives from Rs 15 000 to Rs 11 000; for senior citizens from Rs 12 000 to Rs 10 000; free of charge for students; posting of a Nursing Officer on the island; and possibility to conduct Form IV and V Classes in Agalega.
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