The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) has convened its first Blue Economy Core Group workshop in Durban.
The association has placed more emphasis on growing the blue economy within the region in a sustainable and inclusive manner.
Entitled “Promoting Fisheries amp Aquaculture and Maritime Safety amp Security Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region”, the workshop aims to share experiences and best practices on local and regional initiatives related to the fisheries and aquaculture and maritime safety and security.
The workshop will also analyse the capacities, needs, technology transfer, strength and weaknesses of Member States in terms of the blue economy as well as promote interstate trust and cooperation for maritime safety and security.
Speaking at the opening of the two-day seminar on Monday, Deputy Minister of Internal Relations and Cooperation Nomaindiya Mfeketo said there is a lot of untapped resources in the ocean.
“For centuries, lives and livelihoods have been entirely dependent on the ocean for food, recreation, transport and economic transaction. Indeed, the time is here to maximise the benefit from these facets of our oceanic resources,” she said.
In addition to its strategic significance, Deputy Minister Mfeketo said the Indian Ocean is full of natural resources, making it an obvious natural attraction not only for regional players but for partners such as the US and China.
Large reserves of hydrocarbons are being tapped in the offshore areas of Saudi Arabia, Iran, India and Western Australia.
An estimated 40% of the world’s offshore oil production comes from the Indian Ocean. The Indian Ocean is also seen as one of the world’s great maritime highways, with approximately 50% of the world’s merchant shipping passing through the Strait of Malacca.
“It is no doubt that the strategic seaports dotted across Asia are going to play a decisive, vital and economic role in the coming years due to their multipurpose nature.
“Some of these ports are critical choking points for the international sea lines of communications while others are gateways to the land locked regions,” the Deputy Minister said.
The Blue Economy is the future of IORA, wherein marine economic activity is emerging as a common source of growth, innovation and job creation for the Indian Ocean Region.
It offers a model of development that is ocean-based rather than solely land based, and better suited to the challenges and opportunities of Indian Ocean Rim economies.
It highlights the role biodiversity, including marine life and ecosystems, plays in supporting marine economic activity and enhancing food security.
At a domestic level, Deputy Minister Mfeketo outlined that South Africa has its own strategy, which was launched by President Jacob Zuma late last year, known as Operation Phakisa. It encompasses marine manufacturing and marine transport, aquaculture, offshore oil and gas exploration, as well as marine protection and governance.
“We aim to optimise this convergence of the domestic priorities and the IORA priorities, as an area of high value potential,” said Deputy Minister Mfeketo.
With South Africa due to Chair IORA from 2017 to 2019, Deputy Minister Mfeketo said the country will seek to build on the successive leadership of India, Australia and Indonesia, as preceding chairs.
India’s chairship outlined six priority areas for IORA, namely maritime security and safety, trade and investment facilitation, fisheries management, disaster risk reduction, academic, science and technological cooperation among some.
With Australia’s chairship, the group saw the summation of the priority areas pioneered by India into the Blue Economy or Ocean Economy, together with the common thread of promoting Women Development and mainstreaming business to business linkages within IORA.
Source : SAnews.gov.za