A high-level panel on sustainable ocean economy has kicked off in Mombasa with government officials rooting for joint efforts in addressing several factors hindering the region from benefits of the blue economy.
Key guest at the regional Western Indian Ocean meeting, Samson Mawathe rallied participants to fight water pollution, smuggling of contraband goods, and maritime terrorism among others that have deterred the growth of the sector in the region.
“Africa has begun the journey of recovering a "lost dream" in recognising the Blue/Ocean Economy, for a long time Africans and Seas have not been compatible,” he noted.
“I call on participants to join hands in addressing issues of degradation such as water pollution, smuggling contraband through the waters, maritime terrorism among others that have deterred the growth of the sector in the region,” he said.
The Kenyan Presidential Policy and Strategy Unit and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) led conference is in line with the 2050 Africa Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) which aims to foster more wealth creation for Africa's oceans, seas, and inland waterways by developing a thriving maritime economy and realizing the full potential of sea-based activities in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Key among the conference attendees include the Principal Secretary Ministry of Environment and Forestry Ms.Betty Maina and the Chief Conservator of Forests (CCF) Mr Julius Kamau.
In his remarks, the CCF noted the need to profile the importance and linkage between the blue economy and green economy.
He noted that unless forest resources (whether terrestrial or coastal) a key sector of the green economy are sustainably managed, conserved and protected then a sustainable blue economy cannot be guaranteed.
“Forests are key in mitigating sedimentation and pollution which are key challenges facing the blue economy,” he said.
He advocated for the formation of collaborative partnerships that will foster better protection of mangrove forests, which among others provides a habitat for fisheries resources, which are a key component of the blue economy.
The CCF also called on the need to incorporate the communities based initiatives and governance systems to ensure sustainable management of natural resources especially mangrove forests.
The overall objective of the meeting is to discuss issues that are unique to the African region about fisheries, climate change, ocean health and wealth, and to develop an African position through the signing of the WIO Mombasa declaration set to happen tomorrow, in preparation for Lisbon 2020.
Present at the conference are representatives and dignitaries from the Government of Portugal, Norway, the UNDP, UNEP, World Trade Organization, World Resources Institute, Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, Kenya Coast Guard Service, the Pew Charitable Trusts, and Indian Ocean Tuna Commission among others present.