The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) will be meeting in Mauritius to share experiences and best practices on local and regional initiatives related to the Blue Economy. IORA, a group of 20 states bordering the Indian Ocean, has adopted the Blue Economy as a top priority for generating employment and ensuring sustainability in the region.

International Relations and Cooperation Deputy Minister, Nomaindiya Mfeketo, will represent South Africa at the two-day gathering. IORA’s growing role in promoting the region’s Blue Economy forms part of a broader effort to increase the institutional strength and focus of the group, thereby positioning IORA to play a more effective role in coordinating the efforts of member states around a defined set of priority areas.

The focus of the summit will be on four priority areas namely: Fisheries and Aquaculture; Renewable Ocean Energy; Seaports and Shipping; and Seabed Exploration and Minerals. Furthermore, the Blue Economy Conference will discuss and analyse the ocean economy-related programmes and problems of small Island developing states.

It will also discuss the ways and means to promote public-private partnership in exploring the sea resources in the Member States of Indian Ocean Rim; and discuss and suggest the common – policy framework for the development of the Blue Economy in Member States, Dirco said.

“The Blue Economy 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,” said Dirco spokesperson Clyson Monyela.

Further it highlights the role biodiversity, including marine life and ecosystems, plays in supporting marine economic activity and enhancing food security. At a domestic level, South Africa has its own strategy, which was launched by President Jacob Zuma last year for the Ocean Economy as encapsulated in Operation Phakisa.

South Africa for its part has identified Marine Manufacturing and Marine Transport, Aquaculture, Offshore Oil and Gas Exploration, as well as Marine Protection and Governance as key priorities in this regard.