United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Mauritius

REPUBLIC OF MAURITIUS
STATEMENT
PLENARY MEETING
SDG 14 OCEAN CONFERENCE, GENERAL ASSEMBLY HALL
NEW YORK
Mr. President,
Excellencies,
Distinguished Colleagues,
At th e outset, Mauritius wishes to express its thanks and appreciation to the Governments
of Fiji and Sweden for this High-Level Conference on Oceans, an issue which is of the
greatest importance to us, as a Small Island Developing State (SIDS). As we usually say,
what happens at your neighbour's place has an impact on your home. Here, the ocean is
our neighbour, and everything that harms it inevitably harms us. The Integrity of oceans.
and seas is pivotal for SIDS development.
Moreover, Mauritius would like to align itself on th e statement delivered by G77 and
China, the African Group and AOSIS. The health of our planet depends on the health of
the Oceans as does the livelihood of many people around the world, be it directly or
indirectly. Oceans play a vital role in the regulation of climate and as the largest carbon
sink of the planet. Oceans are also very important not only as a source of food but also
economic activity, especially for island and coastal States which are heavily dependent
on tourism and fisheries.
Excellencies,
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Mauritius has always been at the forefront when issues relating to small island states are
concerned. Mauritius hosted the UN Conference on SIDS in 2005 where the focus was
on continued economic, environmental vulnerability on SIDS.
It is essential that during and after this Conference, we develop partners~ips for SIDS to
enable them to give effect to their status as "large Ocean States", and continue to raise
awareness, strengthening implementation of measures in favour of marine biodiversity,
cross-sectoral cooperation, increased marine scientific research and enhancing ocean
frontiers and multi-sectoral partnerships. Targets 14.7, 14.a and 14.b within SDG 14 are
of critical importance to SIDS. Without Capacity-Building, Transfer of Technology and
financing for implementation, SIDS will not be able to fully implement the 2030 Agenda
including SDG 14. The development of innovative and sustainable infrastructure to
sustainably exploit Oceans will be critic?I for the development of SIDS. Thus, Capacity
Building and Transfer of Technology are priorities where there is a need for a concrete
mechanism to trigger adequate assistance.
We are confident that the Call for Action will provide a basis on which to build synergies
and partnerships between Governments and all stakeholders, including civil society,
scientists and coastal communities, bearing in mind our ultimate goal, namely, a healthy
ocean, clean of debris and persistent organic pollutants, that can be a sustainable source
of livelihood for communities, and which can continue to play a vital role in mitigating
global warming and be a stable climate regulator.
Excellencies,
We are pleased to underline that the Republi~ of Mauritius, which has an Exclusive
Economic Zone (EEZ) of about 2.3 million square kilometers, is deeply committed to
embed and monitor greater sustainability as it develops its "ocean economy".- We are fully
supportive of the UN Ocean Conference and are confident that clear objectives can be
reached by consensus to save our oceans~
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There are 11 Voluntary Commitments from the Government of Mauritius and
govemmental institutions, while there are also several others from the private sector,
NG Os and civil society. The 12 VCs can be accessed on the Ocean Conference website.
Excellencies,
As a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) and Middle Income Country (MIC), Mauritius
needs the oceans to be healthy as the seas constitute a source of employment and
income. At the same time, Government is ensuring that sustainability and transparency
into any investment program designed to develop the ocean economy are factored in and
that proper environmental impact assessments are carried out. Acidification, global
warming, coral bleaching, sea level rise, biodiversity loss, and illegal, unreported and
unregulated (IUU) fishing, are all challenges that are threatening the oceans, and the ·
Government of Mauritius is leaving no stone unturned to tackle such threats.
At the national level, the main legal frameworks that regulate the marine environment are:
The Environment Protection Act 2002, the Fisheries and Marine Resources Act 2007, the
Tourism Act 2006, the Wastewater Management Authority Act 2000, and the Maritime
Zone Act 2005.
Mauritius is also a member of the:·
Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC); South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission
(SWIOFC) and the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA).
As a member of these organisations, Mauritius implements all their fishery conservation
and management measures. We have also signed the FAQ Code of Conduct for
Responsible Fisheries - International fishery conservation and management measures
and the FA9 Port State Control Measures. We also co-operate in the implementation of
the Convention for Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCMLAR).
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Excellencies,
. Some of the key work currently undertaken by the Ministry of Ocean Economy, Marine
Resources, Fisheries and Shipping include constant monitoring of sea water quality to
reduce marine pollution, mangrove propagation, long-term coral reef monitoring and coral
farming, plantation of 400,000 mangroves, close season for net fishing, two-month
closure of octopus fishing to prevent over-exploitation, implementation of a bank fishery
management plan based on the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) principles and
a Port State Control Unit to implement· Regional and International Marine Conservation
Management measures amongst others.
The Government has also set up a National Ocean Council which is the driving force for
all ocean-related projects and development. Government also recognizes the need to
better exploit, . in a sustainable manner, the resources of our EEZ, and meet the
socioeconomic objectives. Furthermore, the Governm«:}nt is encouraging SMEs to embark
into new projects such as fish breeding and ·farming, pearl and oyster culture, algae
farming etc.
Ocean Economy rests in ·the protection of its. maritime health and the preservation of its
biological diversity. In line with the Rio+20 Declaration and more recently the adoption of .
~he 17 SDGs during the UN Sustainable Development Summit held in September 2015,
Mauritius is focusing its Strategy for sustainably developing the Ocean Economy while
striving to achieve the targets as set out in SDG 14 for 'life below Water'.
The effective management of the maritime zones with respect to security, exploration,
protection of resources and development require appropriate delimitations and conscious
of these needs, Mauritius is undertaking a Marine Spatial Plan.
The joint management area (JMA) between Mauritius and the Seychelles is also a good
example of joint collaboration between neighbouring countries.
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Furthermore to ensure that all measures are taken for a sustainable ocean development,
the Mauritius Oceanography Institute conducts, through an ecosystem-based
management of the ocean, seas and marine resources, regular scientific studies,
exploring baseline surveys and putting together monitoring plans. These activities are
carried out in terms of Physical baseline data, Chemical baseline data, Biological ~aseline
data, Remote Sensing and GIS.
Excellencies,
As we all know, UNCLOS is generally considered to be the global "Constitution for the
Oceans" and sets out a number of maritime zones subject to State jurisdiction. But despite
provisions in UNCLOS, there exist major gaps in the governance of ABNJ, hence the
objective of having an international legally binding instrument (ILBI). to· deal with BBNJ,
since currently not all human activities in ABNJ are adequately regulated and not all
regions are covered.
UNCLOS _as it is framed, is not predominantly an environmental o~ biodiver~ity treaty. At
the time of its conception, Member States laid nine emphasis in having rules to regulate
shipping, fishing and the exploitation of the oceans resources for economic purposes.
Despite provisions related to the protection of the marine environment, the focus was
more on exploiting, for economic purposes, the oceans' resources and to bring economic
development.
We therefore hope·that the negotiations for the new ILBI will be successful and that the
eventual ILBI will succeed in complementing adequately UNCLOS. To this effect, there
are 3 key elements which are necessary to effectively manage and conserve life on the
high seas: which are, a clear mandate to conserve the e~osystem as a whole, the ability
to manage across multiple sectors and a regulatory mechanism.
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Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
When the dust has settled, it is critical that follow-up mechanisms are instituted to ensure
that the Partnership Dialogues and the Voluntary Commitments are implemented. While
different other UN processes dealing with Ocean matters, such as the Informal
Consultative Process (ICP), the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Whole, etc., will_ continue
with their respective mandate, the SDG 14 Conference must not be seen as .a one-off.
What we all aim to achieve is protection, preservation, conservation and sustainable
exploitation of the Oceans. But for this joint-venture to be successful both scientists and
policy-makers must seek to increase society's understanding ~nd appreciation of healthy
marine ecosystem. Decision-makers need more and better scientific support for their
actions and decisions.
Whether we are entrepreneurs, policy-makers, scientists, etc., we should all aim at
developing an ethic of care for the ocean. We must accept that hum~ns have both direct
and indirect impacts on the marine environment. We should also see planet Earth and its
Ocean as part of us, as our habitat and feel one with all living creatures. It is only through
this process that we can develop an identity as Earthlings and be succe~sful in preserving
the Ocean and help Mother Nature.
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