Report: Marvellous Mauritius

Media: Lufthansa Inflight Magazine

Sector: Country

Publication Date: January 2016

Ocean Economy

Seeking Blue Growth

Mauritius’ emerging ocean economy is attracting attention as it is set to unlock investments of €540 million.

Mauritius’s maritime zone is 2.3 million square kilometres, about the size of Western Europe, so it comes as no surprise that the small island nation has set out on harnessing the ocean. The country’s maritime industry is poised to undergo a profound transition in the coming years. Long considered the traditional domain of shipping and fishing, Mauritius is positioning itself as a leader in emerging activities that are reshaping the sector, including seafood processing and aquaculture, deep ocean water applications, marine renewable energies and ocean knowledge. The Government of Mauritius believes that better use of Mauritius’ ocean economy can create 25,000 jobs and bring in investments worth €540 million. A super ministry, the Ministry of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, Shipping and Outer Island, has been created to coordinate the island’s various initiatives to stimulate blue growth. This has already attracted international attention. In 2015, foreign direct investment in the sector has exceeded €75 million, and projects with a cumulated investment value of €325 million are due for implementation by end 2018.

Rich in Potential

Mauritius has the second largest tuna stock in the world, as well as an annual aquaculture potential of more than 10,000 metric tons, making it one of the world’s premier sites for fishing and aquaculture. Farming of high-value and niche products such as seaweed, oyster and oyster pearl, crabs, sea urchins and other shellfish are also being encouraged. The island also believes that its nutrient rich deep sea water can be used for a number of commercial activities. The first deep ocean water application project has already been given the green light and is set to use cold deep sea water to cool buildings in the Port Louis region. The promotion of its Ship Registry is also high on Mauritius’ agenda this year, which is expected to bolster activities such as marine finance, marine law, ship management and recruitment of crew, amongst others. Investment is also being channelled into Mauritius’ capital city, Port Louis, to reposition it as an international and efficient conduit for international trade. Infrastructure works that are currently in progress in the port will help accommodate larger container vessels. A cruise terminal and jetty will be constructed to support growth of cruise activities, while land reclamation in the port will provide space for ship repair activities and storage tanks for bunkering. In addition, the liberalisation of the bunkering sector is expected to boost this activity.

“The mission is to transform Port Louis into a regional port and shipping hub, with wide ranging bunkering activities, ship registration, transshipment, fish market, seafood processing, international cruise jetty as well as a host of ancillary services such as ship chandling, crew change, provision of water supply, sewage and used oil disposal services, cleaning and maintenance, spare parts as well as hull and machinery inspection.”

Jawa Lallchand Chairperson of the National Ocean Council

The Search for Hydrocarbons

Seabed exploration for hydrocarbons and minerals presents another opportunity. While the granitic nature of the Seychelles plateau has attracted oil companies to the region, recent geophysical surveys revealed that the continental crust along the Mascarene Plateau extends further southward, and with it the potential of untapped oil reserves. A legislative framework for hydrocarbon and mineral exploration in Mauritius’ Exclusive Economic Zone – the 5th largest in the world – is expected to be published during the course of this year. Recognising that all these maritime activities are unlikely to develop their full potential without effective management of the risks associated with them, Mauritius is also building up research capacity and aims to become a centre of excellence for ocean knowledge, both as a support industry and an industry in its own right.

“Mauritius is very conscious of the value of the ocean, which it plans to mobilise in a sustainable way. For a small island state, the environment is a very critical aspect because it can easily be affected by the manner in which you exploit the ocean. And I think Mauritius is moving in the right decision. They have looked at it very carefully, and are very keen to introduce some innovative ideas.”

K V Bhagirath, Secretary General of the Indian, Ocean Rim Association (IORA)

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