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Protecting marine biodiversity in the East Indian Ocean

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

The GEF-UNDP-IMO GloFouling Partnerships participated this week in two workshops organised by Madagascar and Mauritius, the lead partnering countries benefiting from the project in the East Indian Ocean. The aim of the workshops was to bring together all interested parties to discuss the composition of the national task forces that will define and implement a national strategy to address the issue of invasive aquatic species transferred through marine biofouling.

Invasive species are one of the five main direct drivers ofchange in nature and biodiversity loss, as recently confirmed by 150 leading international experts from over 50 countries in the IPBES Global Assessment Report of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.

During the first workshop, held in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Captain Jean Edmond Randrianantenaina, Executive Director of the Maritime and River Ports Authority, highlighted the economic damage derived from the disruption of marine ecosystems and confirmed that “these invasive species can also pose a threat to public health through consumption of fish products”. The overall impact can affect several sectors including, among others, maritime transport, natural resources, fisheries and tourism.

The workshop in Mauritius was inaugurated by the Hon. Mr. Premdut Koonjoo, Minister for Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping, who highlighted the importance of SDG 14 and role of marine environment to a sustainable future of Small Developing Island States such as Mauritius. Mr. Prakash Mussai, from the Mauritius Oceanography Institute, outlined to all participants the main aspects of invasive aquatic species and their potential impact in Mauritius, based on his own professional experience and research in the country.

The two workshops have received strong support from the Commonwealth of Australia and the International Ocean Institute (IOI). Dr. Peter Stoutjesdijk, Director of the Marine and Aquatic Biosecurity Section of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, explained the approach taken by Australia for the development of a national policy and legislation to prevent the transfer of non-indigenous species through marine mobile ships and structures. Ms. Shannon Hampton, Project Coordinator for the IOI-SA Course in Ocean Governance for Africa, presented the recent experience from IOI and provided an overview of work being done to date in the East Indian Ocean regarding invasive aquatic species.

The GloFouling Partnerships is helping its twelve lead partnering countries to assess their current status in relation to invasive aquatic species, including an economic impact study, a guide for developing a national strategy, and specialised training courses on marine biofouling and legal issues related to the implementation of IMO’s Biofouling Guidelines. As stated by Ms. Lilia Khodjet El Khil, Technical Manager of the GloFouling Partnerships, the aim is to develop the framework for an effective precautionary approach in the twelve beneficiary countries of the GloFouling Project.



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