JOINT PRESS STATEMENT FOR THE 25 July 2016: Africa’s Day of the Seas and Oceans

July 23, 2016

The Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union haveformally acknowledged that oceans are essential to the sustainable development of the Continent and that they should play a critical role in the global Sustainable Development Agenda (SDGs).

To this end, the Assemblyof Heads of State and Government declared 2015-2025 as the Decade of African Seas and Oceans, and 25 July specifically as African Day of Seas and Oceans. In this decision lies an acknowledgement of the invaluable contribution of oceans and coasts to the development of the Continent.

Seychelles sharing the Indian Ocean alongside the east coast of Africa and claiming a vast Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 1.37 million km2, the second largest in Africa, is eager to maximize the full potential of its oceanic territory by applying the Blue Economy concept as the foundation for economic diversification and growth. Africa’s “Blue world” is made of vast lakes and rivers and an extensive ocean resource base. The Blue Economy can play a major role in Africa’s structural transformation to achieve sustainable economic and social development and protect its unique ocean environment.

Seychelles is developing a blue economy roadmap as a pathway to prosperity, based on sustainability, and building resilience. The goals of the roadmap are economic diversification (growing its economic base from marine sectors), the creation of high value jobs and a skilled workforce, ensuring food security through the effective and sustainable use of marine resources and the management and protection of its ocean resources in a sustainable and responsible manner for present and future generations.

We need to challenge the status quo where oceans have been viewed as a means of free resource extraction and an unlimited sink for the disposal of waste and shift the focus to one where the values of ocean services are included in decision-making and where the benefits are shared more equitably for all those who depend upon it.

In order to modernise our facilities the Seychelles has finalised its plan to rebuild its Commercial Port Quay from the existing 370m to a 600m facility that will have modern facilities to increase its Port efficiency. Furthermore the government has undertaken a public private partnership to construct a 450m Quay on Ile du Port that will bring value added benefits to the Blue Economy venture. Ile Du Port is a newly reclaimed area that was built for the specific purpose of providing local entrepreneurs land to come up with projects to support the Blue Economy. Projects include Cold Storage, fish processing, net repairs, ship maintenance to name a few.

In its drive to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Blue Economy, the Government is undertaking a Value Chain Analysis that is being conducted by Foreign Experts. The analysis is expected to help the Government reassess each stakeholder in the value chain. Further the Consultant is developing the first Maritime Policy for Seychelles which will further benefit the country.

Seychelles is a champion to combat piracy off the Coast of Somalia. The country through the Minister responsible for Transport (Minister Joel Morgan) chairs the Contact Group on Piracy off the Coast of Somalia. The decline of piracy in the Indian Ocean during the past years has brought numerous advantages for Seychelles including the increase in the number of cruise ship and super yachts calling at the Port of Victoria.

Since June 2015, Seychelles was declared as a “white list” Country by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) this has provided increased advantage for the Seychelles Petroleum Company (SEYPEC) which owned our Oil tankers flying the Seychelles flags. Since the tankers are plying internationally those vessels are now not subjected to stringent Port State Control when they visit across the World. This is a further advantage for our blue economic development where Seychelles can compete, trade- wise with major maritime countries across the globe.

In May 2016 after being subjected to phase 1 and 2 ISO Audit The Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration (SMSA)was certified as ISO 9001- 2008 compliant and, this again provides the Administration with worldwide recognition. The SMSA was further subjected to the IMO Member State Audit in June 2016, which resulted in identification of some Findings and Observations that the Country has taken to task to create a National Committee in order to provide a corrective action plan to address those shortcomings. It is imperative that we build on the opportunity provided by this decision to strengthen collaboration with African Member States in particular with regard to capacity building, the promotion of regional and international cooperation as well as management and sustainable use of the ocean and coastal ecosystem.

From the global community, we need science and technical capacity to understand what is in our marine territories, how threats such as marine pollution, overexploitation, ocean acidification and climate change will impact on our beaches, coral reefs, and marine resources and in turn our economy and people. This is critical to decide what and where we need to protect our oceans and how to manage our marine resources sustainably and in a resilient manner for today and future generations.

The global community can assist us with securing small-scale fisheries which are critical to our food security, ecosystem resilience and economic stability. We need help to secure and sustain small-scale fisheries as critical to our food security, ecosystem resilience and economic stability.

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