Jul 25, 2013

National Dialogue on Ocean Economy

The Republic of Mauritius has one of the largest Exclusive Economic Zones in the world. It controls 1.9 million square kilometers and it co-manages an additional 396,000 square kilometers on the continental shelf with the Republic of Seychelles. Thus Mauritius has the right to explore and exploit a total area of 2.3 million square kilometers of ocean over which it can exercise economic rights. This represents more than one thousand one hundred times its land mass – an area bigger than France, Germany, Italy, Spain and UK combined.

The Government sees the immense potential of the ocean as the next frontier for economic development and the key for greater national prosperity.

In line with this vision, a National Dialogue on the Ocean Economy was organized under the aegis of the Prime Minister’s Office on 22nd and 23rd July 2013 to increase awareness about the role of the ocean and to identify opportunities with a view to charting a Road Map for the development of the Ocean Economy.

The Ocean Economy should be a bridge to the future development of the country while setting the path for the coming generations, as the potential in the Ocean is enormous for growing the GDP, create high productivity jobs and improving the standards of living of the citizens.

The Prime Minister, Dr Navinchandra Ramgoolam, GCSK, FRCP, (in above picture) made this statement this morning at the opening of a two-day National Dialogue on the Ocean Economy organised by the Prime Minister’s Office in collaboration with the Board of Investment at the Swami Vivekanada International Convention Centre, Pailles. The aim of the National Dialogue on the Ocean Economy is to encourage wide public participation in the process leading to the adoption of a roadmap on the Ocean Economy and assess the commercial potential of the living and non-living resources.

According to Dr Ramgoolam, the development of the Ocean Economy will have significant positive impact on the Mauritian economy and he called on the population to take full advantage of these opportunities. He added that Mauritius must have the right regulatory regime and the level of skills required to license and supervise ocean activities and the essential knowledge to tap the ocean. He also announced the setting up of a task force comprised of representatives of the public and private sectors and the civil society to monitor the ocean related issues.Click here to download the keynote address of Dr the Honourable Navinchandra Ramgoolam GCSK, FRCP, Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius

The Prime Minister made an appeal to the different stakeholders namely the private sector, and the civil society to collaborate with the Government to exploit fully the potentials of the Ocean and to implement the roadmap on the Ocean Economy and make of the Ocean Economy a new pillar of the economy. He also urged the youth to participate in the implementation of the project as according to him, they will be the ones who will benefit from the various opportunities in the years to come.

He also pointed out that Mauritius has already embarked on two projects to tap the potentials in the ocean namely, the exploitation of deep sea water which can be used for various applications ranging from bottled drinking water, air conditioning, aquaculture to thallassotherapy and the drafting of a national long-term strategy to develop Mauritius into a petroleum hub. The vision of the Government is to make of Mauritius a nation fully conscious of its immense potential as an Ocean State, he concluded.

For his part, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Mauritius to the United Nations, Mr. M. Meetarbhan, highlighted the importance of tapping the ocean due to the fact that Mauritius has one of the largest Exclusive Economic Zones. According to him, the holding of the National Dialogue will enable a greater participation from one and all towards the setting up of the roadmap to exploit the Ocean Economy.

The main objectives of the conference are to create awareness of the immense potential of the ocean economy to become a major pillar of the Mauritian economy in the decades to come; to alert all potential entrepreneurs about the immediate and future potential for beneficial business investment in the different sub-sectors of the Mauritian Ocean Economy; to inform about the existing economic activities in the ocean economy of Mauritius; and to discuss about the challenges and hurdles for unleashing the full potential of economic activities of the economic zone of Mauritius more particularly with respect to inclusivity of all and sustainability of resources.
Over 100 participants namely senior public sector officials responsible for the development of the Ocean Economy or related activities, C-Level executives of companies involved in ocean-based activities and investment companies; representatives of international agencies promoting the development of the blue economy as well as non-governmental institutions engaged in ocean related activities, are attending the conference.

The participants will be exposed to various issues namely, how to better understand the vast potential of the Ocean Economy, the immediate and future business opportunities arising from the development of the Ocean Economy. They will also be called upon to contribute to identify the opportunities, challenges and required actions for the concretisation of the Mauritius Ocean Economy and propose development strategies related to the development of the Ocean Economy.

Mauritius has one of the largest Exclusive Economic Zones in the world. Moreover, in 2012, the United Nations approved the coordinates submitted jointly by Mauritius and Seychelles for jurisdiction over an area of our continental shelf extending over 400 000 km2. Mauritius has now a total area of 2.3 million km2 over which it can exercise several economic rights.

Government Information Service, Prime Minister’s Office, Level 6, New Government Centre, Port Louis, Mauritius. Email: infserv@intnet.mu Website:http://gis.gov.mu

From le Mauricien 24 July 2013

A first draft roadmap for the development of ocean economy should be ready in late September. This was announced yesterday afternoon Meetarbhan Milan, Ambassador of Mauritius to the United Nations and Chairman of the National Symposium on the economy of the ocean, which was held the last two days at the conference center Swami Vivekananda , Domaine Straws. The preparation of this roadmap is likely driven by the Special Unit for Ocean Matters Office of the Prime Minister, who organized the symposium with the Board of Investment.

Milan Meetarbhan announced that preparations for the development of the roadmap will start immediately after the closing of the symposium that a first draft will be available in late September to be submitted to the government. Once government approval is obtained, the draft will then be made public for comments from various parties involved in the development of our ocean resources, from conservation activities of the marine ecosystem to the economic exploitation of resources, to the establishment of an appropriate legal and regulatory framework and the development of institutional and human capacities. "We still have much to learn from the ocean economy," said Milan Meetarbhan. The latter made it clear that the Mauritian authorities do not pretend to say that the road will be a work plan that the country must be linked to a specific period. The roadmap must be modulated or review, depending on the evolution of technology and many other factors.
"The process to come up with a road map for the ocean economy is forward-looking, cross-sectoral and multi-disciplinary," highlighted Ken Poonoosamy, CEO of BOI, in his closing remarks. He argued that the preparation of such a document requires the input of many local experts as well as contributions from abroad or specialist technical issues - related to science and technology, to energy, fisheries, environment, marine biotechnology, shipbuilding and tourism - as well as experts forecast the long term. "The road map Will Malthus gather the thoughts of a wide-range of key stakeholders: maritime and energy industries, conservation and recreation Interests and academic experts", said the Director General of the BOI.
According to Ken Poonoosamy, the roadmap will be developed based on the recommendations of five sub-committees to look into the following sectors: the seafood or processing of seafood products, services (biotechnology, medical tourism, cruise among others), marine energy and hydrocarbons, maritime activities and port development and the Deep Ocean Water Application (DOWA), including the use of cold water from the depths to the needs of air conditioning or further development of aquaculture. "The road map Will Roll out Specific measures and time-lines to move ahead with the projects," said Ken Poonoosamy.
The Director General of the BOI urged all parties involved in the ocean economy to share their views on the resources available and usable, the structures put in place for sustainable development and possible projects. "We will require working together, share information, and up smartly to grow our economy, keep our ocean healthy, and enjoy the benefits HIGHEST from our ocean resources, now and in the future," he added.
Several suggestions were made by the six discussion groups established at the end of the first day of the symposium. Broadly, these proposals relate to the establishment of an appropriate legal and regulatory framework to facilitate sustainable development, coordination between the different institutions involved directly or indirectly in the development of ocean economy, cooperation at the regional level, the availability of reliable data on ocean resources and economic activities, the development of a framework for intellectual property rights, liberalization of the supply vessel services, adequate awareness and full participation community of fishermen and fishing companies with the goals of the roadmap, an important contribution of institutions specializing in research and development, training of young people - including the introduction of the teaching of ocean economy in the school curriculum - promoting public-private partnerships, creating a one-stop shop to handle all matters of ocean activities, the development of marine biotechnology, the financing of small and medium enterprises the preparation of a plan for aquaculture extension, the creation of a "World Class Oceanic Institute" promoting ecotourism and cruises, better delineation and management of lagoons and coastal areas, resumption of fishing activities on the benches or the use of energy from the ocean.
Note that one of the representatives of the World Bank symposium, the Mauritian Yuvan Beejadhur, Partnership Specialist in the Division of Sustainable Development Network, welcomed the Mauritian initiative to explore the opportunities offered by oceanic economy suggested that the World Bank is ready to support the country in the enforcement of the road about it.

Launch of the “National Dialogue on the Ocean Economy”
The National Dialogue on the Ocean Economy was launched on 22 and 23 July 2013 with the objective of creating general awareness of the immense economic potential of Mauritius as an ocean State, given the business opportunities in established, emerging and new sectors. It was also an occasion to address important issues pertaining to ocean governance and capacity building.
Dr the Honourable Navinchandra Ramgoolam GCSK, FRCP, Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius, delivered the keynote address. That was followed by panel discussions with eminent experts in ocean-related activities ranging from fisheries and aquaculture, marine biotechnology, seabed mineral exploration and exploitation, offshore oil and gas exploitation to ocean management. The launch of the national dialogue witnessed the active participation of some 400 stakeholders including decision makers from the public and private sector, head of NGOs and marinerelated associations.
An Ocean of Opportunities
The direct economic value (GVA)1 of the ocean economy was EUR 1.44 billion in 2007 in Ireland, representing approximately 1% of the country’s GDP. The Mauritian economy can learn from Ireland’s experience of harnessing the opportunities in the ocean economy. For the sake of comparison, the Mauritian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is twice as large as Ireland’s, and although the latter has an oil and gas industry, it represents less than 10% of the total economic value.
The dialogue identified opportunities in living, abiotic and other ocean-related activities including established sectors such as seafood, fisheries and tourism, emerging sectors such as bunkering and marine biotechnology, and new sectors such as marine ICT and finance or oil and gas. Established marine sectors in Mauritius have significant growth potential with a target of increasing seafood exports from 18% to 25% of total national exports and achieving an annual aquaculture production of 10,000 tonnes by 2020. Dr C. Saurel from the Institute of Marine Research of the New University of Lisbon stressed the importance of integrating aquaculture projects with the existing marine ecosystem, while local panellists addressed the major challenges hindering aquaculture production in Mauritius.
Discussions also extended to the development potential of new economic sectors and unveiled the synergies that exist between ocean-related activities and other strong pillars of our economy, including financial services, ICT and the sugar industry. One could think of a developed marine financial services sector in Mauritius servicing the region, whether for marine brokerage, offshore mineral and oil & gas financing or insurance for marine extraction activities. One could also envisage an emerging marine ICT sector in niche activities such as in situ sensor networks, wireless and fibre communication platforms, data management and visualisation, geographic information systems as well as advanced simulation, modelling and forecast technologies.
Professor L. Xiangzhi, Biotechnology expert of the Third Institute of Oceanography State Oceanic Administration of China, also dwelt on the synergies between biotechnology and existing Mauritian industries. For example, DHA uses saccharum for the fermentation of algae. This can create a synergy between the sugar industry and marine biotechnology. With some coordinated research, this can enable the production of high-value products such as DHA oil which has a market price exceeding USD 100,000 per tonne or Glucosamine Sulfate which is increasingly being used as dietary supplements as well as in natural sweeteners.
The important contribution of water-based tourism and leisure to the ocean economy was also highlighted. In Ireland, this accounted for over 30% of direct economic value to the Irish ocean economy in 2007. Boating, sea angling, and sea sports are some of the activities that can be further developed in the Mauritius.
Port-based activities are also set to grow with the massive increase in container traffic which was experienced in the last decade and resulted from the substantial investments in port infrastructure. These investments are expected to continue with works for the extension of the container terminal due to start in 2014. In the long-term, the total throughput capacity of the terminal will exceed 1 million TEUs. The development of Port-Louis as a regional bunkering hub is also in the pipeline. Additionally, cruise traffic which has increased by more than 700% from 2001 to 2010 holds some untapped opportunities.
Concrete projects in ocean energy were presented by local and international firms. Sotravic Limitée plans investments to the tune of MUR 4 billion in its deep ocean water application (DOWA) project which will use sea water air conditioning (SWAC) for the cooling of industrial, commercial and office buildings in Port-Louis. The nutrient-rich deep sea water can also be transformed into premium products such as bottled water, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals and for polishing for high-end aquaculture produce, amongst others. Additionally, SWAC will considerably reduce greenhouse gas emissions, thereby contributing to a cleaner and greener Mauritius. Hitachi has a similar project in the southern part of Mauritius. Another interesting business partnership between the IBL group and CEPHYR considers converting fish by-products into valuable fish oil.
One of the key outcomes of the dialogue has been a strong statement from various scientific bodies on the possibility of hydrocarbon deposits both in our EEZ and the area of our continental shelf jointly managed by the Republic of Seychelles. It has been established that Mauritius forms part of a contiguous block of anomalously thick crust that extends in an arc northwards to the Seychelles (Nature GeoScience 24 Feb 2013). Attractive frameworks are required to attract local and international players in this sector.
The first part of the second day of the conference focussed on ocean governance. Examples of sustainable development from Norway, Ireland and the World Wildlife Fund were discussed. The UNESCO representative, Dr M. Bhikajee, stressed capacity building and announced the willingness of the IOC and World Bank to fund a Centre of excellence in oceanography in Mauritius.
To make this ocean economy a reality, the views of all those present were taken on board through a breakaway session where opportunities for early start and early harvest as well as the essential conditions for their materialisation were discussed.
The launch of the national dialogue highlighted opportunities in our ocean space and the issues that need to be considered for the successful development of the ocean economy. The dialogue is now open. The public at large can contribute therto by posting their views on a dedicated platform accessible on http://www.investmauritius.com/ oceaneconomy. Following public consultations over the next couple of months, a Road Map will be published and a Task Force will oversee its implementation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

National Dialogue on the Ocean Economy.
“Concept of an ocean economy remains as vague as ever”/ Who is who in the business to manage the Ocean Economy emerging sector. With the existing stakeholders, such as Ile Durable (MID), Board of Investment, we should add the Mauritius Oceanic Institute (MOI). Now the MOI already launched its Strategic Plan for the period 2011 to 2015. A closer look on the formulation and implementation of policies shows same and similar provisions emanating from Board of Investment- a copy and paste exercise from top to bottom. For the purpose of clarity and practical considerations there is a need to rationalize the workings of these two or more institutions and create the often used term: A ONE STOP SHOP where interested parties can move their projects smoothly. The works for development of an Ocean Economy was already begun by the MOI, who boldly declares: In the ten years of its existence the MOI already embarked on numerous research activities that relate to the ocean and its constituents. The exclusive economic zone of about 1.9 KM and the additional seabed territories recently acquired the MOI will have a pivotal role in the economic development of the country. MOI gives visibility to the Seychelles by adding that it can now have access to the seabed and subsoil resources in an additional maritime area of approximately 396,000 km. it is fitting to ask as to whether any representative from Seychelles were invited for the two-day National Dialogue on the Ocean Economy. MOI is resolute about its commitments and states that it seeks to its research and development activities in the region and initiate projects that aim at bringing direct and indirect benefits to Mauritius. Brimful of confidence MOI has its own Office structure and management set up, for it aims at building on its strength , that is its young, dynamic and motivated staff , the MOI will undertake projects to secure and explore the potential of our maritime zone. You may be dismayed and imbalanced upon reading the above, but there are more Siamese patterns inside the store. Consider the ground level approach of MOI, for it mentions its vital role to play in disaster risk strategies, more importantly, in tsunami preparedness. Repeated reference been made about weaknesses that exist and is hindering the effective implementation of an Ocean Economy. National Broadcast Corporation spends prime time to give selected, pick and choose information on this Ocean Economy emerging sector, leaving the defined weaknesses inside the cupboard. Some of these are given here: lack of specific training for specific projects, lack of space and equipment for laboratory and a dedicated boat for fieldwork, poor visibility of products and services among general public, stakeholders and students. The threat platform: increasing brain drain, lack of funding, inability to keep up with technological develop0ment, lack of IPR framework to protect research, lack of legislative framework to protect local research, multitude of institutions pursuing same vision and objectives. The Eldorado piece of finding and bringing out deep sea hydrocarbon and mineral exploration is treated as touch and go possibility. A formal undertaking comes up when MOI promises to enhance awareness and communication through: a National Science Forum (Held every two years), workshops, seminars and training courses.