Ocean Economy: Govt seeks to exploit promising sector

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Ocean Economy: Govt seeks to exploit promising sector

A one-day workshop on Ocean Economy aimed at exploring the marine policy and research landscape, identifying research opportunities and technology needs, as well as fostering partnerships opened this week at the Victoria Beachcomber Resort & Spa Hotel in Pointe aux Piments. The Minister of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping, Mr Premdut Koonjoo, was present.

The workshop is a joint initiative of the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), UK in collaboration with the Ministry of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping, and the British High Commission. The themes are: Overview of the NOC and marine policy/research synergies; Marine Ecology and Biogeochemistry: Implications of a changing climate; Seafloor and Habitat Mapping: Ecosystem value; and Development of biogeochemical sensors for autonomous ocean observations.

The resource persons are from the NOC namely Dr Alan Evans, Marine Science Policy Advisor; Dr Alex Poulton, Principal Researcher in Marine Ecology and Pelagic Biogeochemistry; Dr Katleen Robert, post-doctoral researcher; and Dr Socratis Loucaides, oceanographer and Head of the Analytical Science Team of the Ocean Technology and Engineering Group. They are currently on a visit to Mauritius till 17 March 2017.

In his address, Minister Koonjoo recalled that the future lies in the untapped wealth of the ocean. The ocean economy, as the new economic frontier, represents a unique opportunity to grow our economy. Our work to harness the full potential of the ocean economy is gaining momentum, he said.

He pointed out that emerging economic sub sectors of the ocean economy such as the Deep Ocean Water Application and marine renewable energy are becoming a reality in Mauritius. Other projects include: the deployment of the wave monitoring device aiming to explore the prospects of developing wave energy and harness the potential of ocean energy; offshore surveys conducted by vessel Joseph Plateau in the context of the Deep Ocean Water Application project; setting up of the National Ocean council to drive ocean-related projects; and signing of the first deed of concession for aquaculture project.

Referring to threats of the shipping industry and climate change, ocean acidification, pollution, overfishing and destructive fishing practices, Mr Koonjoo stated that research and innovation are indispensable to meet these challenges and to achieve blue growth.

“As our marine resources continue to play an important role in our economic development, we need to increasingly base our economy on knowledge and advanced technology. In order to achieve this objective, research and development must be enhanced,” he said.

In this respect, the activities of Mauritius Oceanography Institute (MOI) and Albion Fisheries Research Centre are being reviewed. The MOI, with its new building and research laboratories together with the forthcoming signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the National Institute of Oceanography of Goa, is being positioned as a centre of excellence in oceanography in this part of the Indian Ocean.