GIS - 30 June, 2016:
The Blue Bay Marine Park Centre, built with a view to better manage the marine park and offer quality service, was inaugurated yesterday. The new Park Centre houses office spaces, a wet laboratory, a conference room and facilities to process permits.
To the tune of some Rs 30 million, the Park Centre is equipped with facilities to enable the technical/scientific staff and enforcement officers to better perform their duties and ensure conservation and protection of the marine biodiversity assets.
In his address, the Minister of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, Shipping and Outer Islands, Mr Premdut Koonjoo, recalled that the ocean economy ranks high in the development agenda of the Government. According to him, the ocean ecosystem of Mauritius and its marine biological diversity are the core national assets which must be well managed to meet a broad range of economic and social aspirations for present and future aspirations.
Hence the need, Mr Koonjoo stressed, to preserve and protect the rich biodiversity of the marine park. He added that the protection of the environment is the responsibility of each and everyone and appealed to the population to better conserve the national heritage for future generations.
Speaking about the Park Centre, Minister Koonjoo said that it will eventually become a one stop shop for leisure, education and marine research thus enhancing customer care and service to the population. He added that the Park Centre will also act as an educational centre for sensitisation on the importance of the conservation and protection of biodiversity and Marine Protected Areas.
For his part, the Minister of Minister of Civil Service and Administrative Reforms, and Minister of Environment, Sustainable Development, and Disaster and Beach Management, Mr Alain Wong, called for a change of mentality as regards environmental protection. He pointed out that the collaboration of each and everyone is essential, while adding that each one of us needs to demonstrate a spirit of sacrifice and discipline and act responsibly. Our oceans are our treasured national assets and it is therefore important to rebuild the biodiversity and improve ecosystem resilience in the face of growing environmental challenges, he said.
The Blue Bay Marine Park
Proclaimed in 2000, the Blue Bay Marine Park has also been designated in 2008 a RAMSAR Site - a wetland of international importance based on species and ecological diversity it sustains.
The Blue Bay Marine Park has been demarcated into specific zones to provide protection to critical habitats, conserve biological diversity and above all to cater for various permissible activities, in view of sustaining economic diversification and job creation. This is achieved through a permit system and a fee structure for all permissible activities in Marine Protected Areas, namely Boat/Vessel Permits for pleasure craft, diving/snorkeling, interference permit, glass bottom, photography, recreational activities and water ski, amongst others.
The Marine Park receives some 105 000 visitors yearly, both local and foreigners. It was awarded in 2015 the TripAdvisor certificate of excellence.
The Park, covering an area of 353 hectares, is recognised for its exceptional underwater seascape and unique coral garden. It harbours a rich marine ecosystem of rare beauty with diverse communities of marine flora and fauna. It comprises around 108 coral species, 201 species of molluscs, 38 species of echinoderms, 30 species of algae and 233 fish species.
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