Ébène, December 9, 2021

The Indian Ocean Commission and the Open University of Mauritius have officially put at the disposal of the Southwest Indian Ocean countries an undergraduate course on Law, Blue economy and Sustainable Fisheries Management. A first in the fisheries industry, this initiative is critical for the region considering that “the fisheries sector presently lacks expertise to harness its potential in a responsible and sustainable manner”, according to Vêlayoudom Marimoutou, Secretary General of the Indian Ocean Commission.

The programme, which can be completed between three and six years, will be offered online for an easy access whenever and wherever learners want. Moreover, the related costs have been adapted to the means of the region. Each credit costs between USD 25 and USD 48, depending on the learner’s geographic area. Furthermore, an option for merit-based financial support is being prepared as part of this initiative.

“We want our youth, who will be the decision-makers of tomorrow, to be equipped with the tools to better protect the planet”, said Massimiliano Messi, Team Leader within the European Union Delegation to the Republic of Mauritius and the Republic of Seychelles. The region intends to make up for a shortfall of USD 7.5 billion per year in the fisheries industry, with the help of the future experts and professionals trained during this programme.

As a case in point, Sudheer Maudhoo, Minister of the Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping of the Republic of Mauritius, mentioned the legal crisis when the bulk carrier Wakashio ran aground on the coast of Mauritius: “At the level of the country, there was no available human resources with the necessary knowledge pertaining to Ocean Rights in this kind of situation. […] Thanks to this course, which has law as its first component, we are confident that our country will be able to better manage and defend its rights in matters relating to the sea.”

This initiative was initiated through collaboration between ECOFISH and the Open University of Mauritius. ECOFISH, a programme promoted and funded by the European Union, is implemented by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), Southern African Development Community (SADC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and East African Community (EAC), in order to make sustainable fishing a lever for development in the Eastern Africa, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean region.

A memorandum of understanding was signed between the IOC and the Open University of Mauritius following the launch of the training programme. This formalized the collaboration which aims at strengthening skills in the fisheries sector. “We are prepared to give local and international students all the support needed for their success”, assured Rajeswara Duva Pentiah, Chairperson of the Open University of Mauritius.

The initiative is already supported by international academic partners, such as the University of Portsmouth and the Green Law Foundation. The first class is scheduled for February 2022 and registration is open as from December 10, 2021.