GIS - 04 June, 2018: The Norwegian oceanographic research vessel, Dr Fridtjof Nansen, arrived on 2 June 2018 at the Port Louis harbour after a 30-day mission in the Mauritius-Seychelles Joint Management Area. In this context, a ceremony was organised this afternoon at Quay E in Port Louis in the presence of the Minister Mentor and Minister of Defense and Rodrigues, Sir Anerood Jugnauth, the Minister of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping, Mr Premdut Koonjoo, and other eminent personalities.
The survey was implemented within the framework of the Programme Agreement between the Norwegian Agency for Development Corporation (Norad), the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) for the Programme ‘Supporting the Application of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries management considering climate and pollution impacts’ (EAF Nansen Programme). This collaboration was renewed last May with the new phase of the programme taking into account the climate impact and pollution.
In his address, Sir Anerood Jugnauth lauded the scientific expedition which he said is the first of its kind in the region. This landmark achievement, he said, will help Mauritius and Seychelles to better understand and evaluate the marine resources in the Joint Management Area. He recalled that the Mascarene Plateau is as important for Mauritius as it is for Seychelles while adding that this achievement represents a new frontier for the ocean development of the two countries.
Speaking about the extended continental shelf, Sir Anerood Jugnauth pointed out that in December 2008, Mauritius and Seychelles, both parties to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, made a joint submission to the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) for an extended continental shelf beyond their respective 200 nautical miles of Exclusive Economic Zones in the region of the Mascarene Plateau. The area comprises a vast extent of seabed and underlying marine subsoil of approximately 396 000 km2.
He added that the CLCS appointed a sub-commission that examined the joint submission in 2009. Following extensive deliberations, the CLCS made its recommendations in March 2011 which resulted in Mauritius and Seychelles being jointly conferred the jurisdiction upon the joint area of extended continental shelf of 396 000 km2.
The Minister Mentor and Minister of Defence and Rodrigues highlighted that two treaties were signed in March 2012. The first pertains to the joint exercise of sovereign rights by Mauritius and Seychelles on the continental shelf. The second deals with the management of the seabed of the continental shelf. It defines the modalities for exploration and exploitation of the living and non-living resources of the continental shelf, while providing a favorable framework for both countries to jointly and fairly manage the continental shelf.
Since then, Mauritius and Seychelles have been working on the legal and institutional framework to enable activities in relation to marine resources. A Joint Commission has also been established, which is supported by a technical committee and is under the supervision of a ministerial council, he said.
For her part, the Ambassador of Norway to Mauritius, Ms Anne Lene Dale, stated that both Norway and Mauritius share common values and interests since they are both small nations. She pointed out that the Sustainable Goal No 14 (Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development) is of high priority to both Norway and Mauritius. She pointed out that the data collected during the expedition will be used for research so that both Mauritius and Seychelles can attain sustainable use of marine resources.
Referring to the Nansen project, Ms Dale pointed out that its objectives are to help African countries in fisheries research and management. Its principal concerns, she underlined, are to enhance food security through sustainable fisheries, while contributing to global efforts to address ocean sustainability issues, such as marine pollution, and the impact of climate variability and change on oceans and ocean life.
The EAF-Nansen Programme
The new EAF-Nansen Programme aims at consolidating the results of the previous phases, supporting the implementation of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF), including improving the knowledge base for decision-making, while also broadening the scope to addressing a wider range of impacts of human activities on fishery resources and on marine ecosystems such as pollution and climate change.
A new state-of-the-art research vessel, the third Dr Fridtjof Nansen, is made available to the programme. This vessel continues to operate as a unique platform for knowledge generation, capacity development and research exchange. The vessel is 74.5 m long, features specialised laboratories and advanced scientific equipment, and has capacity to accommodate up to 30 scientists.
The main objective of the survey in the national waters of Mauritius including the Nazareth Bank aims at gaining understanding of the ecosystem status in general and of specific ecosystem components and attributes. Other objectives include mapping of geomorphology, benthic habitats and benthos, mapping of fish and crustacean resources, and measurements of physical and chemical oceanography, including current measurements.
For the first time, the team was made up of 13 Mauritian scientists out of a total of 29. The Mauritian institutions that participated in this study are: the Department for Continental Shelf, Maritime Zones Administration and Exploration; the Ministry of the Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, and Shipping; the Ministry of Housing and Lands; the Mauritius Oceanographic Institute; and the University of Mauritius.
Five Seychelles scientists from the University of Seychelles, the Seychelles Fishing Authority, and the Seychelles National Parks Authority were also part of the mission. The Representatives from the Marine Research Institute of Norway, the Western Cape University and a Russian scientist also accompanied the team.
The scientific team was led by two co-Cruise Leaders, one from the Hydrocarbon / Mineral Exploration Unit of the Department for Continental Shelf, Maritime Zones Administration and Exploration and the other Norwegian, Dr Odd Aksel Bergstad, from the Institute of Norwegian Marine Research.
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