"My vision is to develop the ocean assets of Mauritius into one of the innovative pillars of our economy. A pillar that would unlock investments of approximately $600 million and create 25,000 jobs," said Prime Minister, Sir Anerood Jugnauth.
The Prime Minister recalled that the 2.3 million square kilometres of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Mauritius, which represents nearly one per cent of the world's oceans and is the fifth largest EEZ in the world, presents extensive opportunities.
These include: second largest tuna stock in the world; annual aquaculture potential for South-Western region of Mauritius exceeds 10,000 tonnes; strategic positioning of the port in the South-South corridor; Port Louis as a hub for various port-related activities; short term bunkering; and potential for deep seawater applications.
Sir Anerood Jugnauth highlighted that the Government has already initiated several measures aiming at tapping these opportunities, namely the creation of a ministry dedicated to the The IORA Blue Economy ConferenceOcean Economy, setting up of a National Ocean Council for implementation of developmental projects, setting up of a Continental Shelf, Maritime Zones Administration and Exploration Department to develop the offshore hydrocarbon and minerals sector of Mauritius, and setting up of a High Powered Committee and a Joint Public-Private Sector Steering Committee to closely monitor project facilitation and implementation.
According to the Prime Minister, the ocean is the last frontier for economic development. He therefore called upon the Governments of IORA countries to join hands, and share knowledge, expertise and resources in the fields of seaport and shipping, offshore hydrocarbon and minerals, fisheries and aquaculture, and marine renewable energies to drive the blue economy agenda. It is also important, he said, to collaborate in research and development as well as invest in environmentally sustainable projects.
For his part, the Minister of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, Shipping and Outer Islands, Mr Premdut Koonjoo, stated that the timely historic conference on the blue economy is a priority since many countries are grappling with various challenges on the sustainability of their economic development agenda.
According to him, the development of the blue economy in Mauritius presents an unprecedented set of opportunities for extending socio-economic development in an inclusive manner. With the right policies and strategies, he added, this initiative is bound to take Mauritius to high-income country status in the near future.
He however cautioned that the maritime realm is vulnerable to a wide array of threats such as microorganism contamination from ballast water, and air pollution from ships. Hence the need to adhere to fundamentals such as sustainability, inclusivity and environmental friendliness and sound ocean governance principles, he said.