Mauritius has established standards to manage the coastal resources and environmental quality through both domestic and international laws.
The Environment Protection Act provides a policy framework for environmental stewardship and sustainable development. It covers the coastal zone of Mauritius and gives authority for preserving and conserving the coastal zone in an integrated manner through the enforcement of environmental standards, particularly those pertaining to the control and prevention of pollution.
This act asserts the sovereign right of Mauritius to manage natural resources, as well as development activities, out to the Exclusive Economic Zone, and defines the extent, legal status and jurisdiction of Mauritius in various maritime zones. This act also provides a legal instrument for protecting cultural heritage and regulating other activities such as navigation and research within these zones. Understanding where the government has jurisdiction over certain activities can also help inform the Mauritius Blue Economy about where certain activities (for example, offshore development) are likely to take place. Additionally, this act also provides the geographic coordinates for the Mauritius-Seychelles Joint Management Area.
The Fisheries and Marine Resources Act aims at management, conservation, protection of fisheries and Marine resources and protection of the marine ecosystem. It describes regulations related to permitted fishing and fish farming methods and zones; registration and licensing of fishing vessels and gear; import, export, and manufacturing; Marine protected areas and other provisions related to fishing and fisheries.
This framework was developed by the Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) Division using ICZM Action and Area Plans, ICZM Strategy, ICZM legislative and policy framework, and others. This framework aims to promote sustainable development in the coastal zone through the optimization of long-term socioeconomic and environmental benefits. Current implementation activities include coastal protection works, beach reprofiling and other erosion control measures, as well as coral reef ecosystem monitoring and lagoon water quality monitoring.
This act prohibits the use of a drift net within the fishing limits of Mauritius. Drift nets are defined as gill nets which exceed 250 m in length, are made of up mesh of any size, and are designed with floats or weights to suspend vertically either at the water’s surface or in mid-water.
This act establishes an authority to manage public beaches, particularly with respect to conservation, protection, management, maintenance, infrastructure and facilities development, and water quality enhancement of public beaches and to regulate activities on public beaches. As public beaches can be a major draw for a variety of tourism activities, regulations about beaches can inform conservation activities in Mauritius such as coastal erosion.
This act provides a legal framework for overseeing and regulation the designation and leasing of sand quarries and sand landing places, and the management of sand removal and transport. Beach sand mining is banned in Mauritius to protect the lagoon ecosystem and control erosion. However, beach re-nourishment using inland mined sand is sometimes used to mitigate coastal erosion.
International Laws and Agreements to which Mauritius is Party
Popularly known as UNCLOS, the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea treaty, this international agreement defines the rights and responsibilities of nations with respect to their use of the world’s oceans, establishing guidelines for businesses, the environment, and the management of marine natural resources.
Mauritius adopted the Convention on Biological Diversity on 29 December 1993 to support in conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of the components of biological diversity and fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources
Over time, invasive species, habitat modification, pollution from land-based sources and activities and adverse impacts of climate change have increased loss of biodiversity, degradation and habitats in Mauritius.
On 01.02.1988, Mauritius acceded to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, commonly known as SOLAS Convention. As a signatory to SOLAS Convention, Mauritius has national and international responsibilities to provide necessary services for enhancing safety of navigation in its area of jurisdiction. Contracting Governments are required to provide and maintain Hydrographic Services and products.
The Convention aims to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations “at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human induced) interference with the climate system.” It states that “such a level should be achieved within a time-frame sufficient to allow ecosystems to adapt naturally to climate change, to ensure that food production is not threatened, and to enable economic development to proceed in a sustainable manner.”
The Paris Agreement’s central aim is to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Additionally, the agreement aims to strengthen the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.
One of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted is Goal 14: Life below water, which aims to sustainably manage, use and protect marine and coastal ecosystems from pollution, as well as address the impacts of ocean acidification. Learn more about SDG 14: Life below Water.
Marine Protected Areas
Target 5 of the SDG 14 is to conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information by 2020. Nairobi Convention is supporting Mauritius meet the obligations under SDG Targets 14.5 by publishing the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Outlook for the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region.
Mauritius has made significant progress towards increasing the total coverage of MPAs, thereby protecting its remarkable natural treasures and contributing to employment opportunities, food security, and biodiversity protection. At present the total coastal areas protected (18 MPAs) amounts to 11.9% and represent 0.006 per cent of its EEZ .Find out more about the Marine Protected Areas in Mauritius at the Nairobi Convention Dashboard here.