The Blue Economy represents over 10.5 per cent of the national GDP of Mauritius, with total direct employment estimated at over 20,000 excluding coastal tourism.
Tapping into the economic potential of the ocean—while at the same time protecting this resource—requires thoughtful policy, planning, and management. With this in mind, Mauritius decided to make the “Blue Economy” a pillar of its economic development strategy, with an objective to double the contribution of the Blue Economy to GDP by 2025. It created an Oceans Economy Roadmap, which aims to make use of the untapped value of the country’s ocean resources by sustainably coordinating the use of resources. The country endowed a new Ministry for Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, and Shipping with the authority to coordinate and manage ocean-related activities.
Fisheries: The entire fisheries sector in Mauritius employs an estimated 11,000 people and contributes 1.5 per cent to GDP. Mauritius has 42 species of fish that are of economic importance within the inshore area, with a different composition and relative abundance in the near shore waters of each island. There are four main types of fisheries in Mauritius, namely; (i) artisanal fisheries; (ii) sport fisheries; (iii) banks fisheries: and (iv) tuna fisheries. Mauritius is already a seafood hub and one of the biggest tuna exporters to the European Union from the African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of countries. Now there is considerable focus on the culture and cultivation of seaweed.
Artisanal fishing provides employment and livelihood to some 2,200 fishermen and their families.
Ports and Harbours: Mauritius has two ports – the main commercial one being in Port-Louis and a second in Port Mathurin to handle services between Rodrigues and Mauritius. The Port-Louis harbour has been transformed into a world class shipping facility.
Offshore Extractive Industry-Hydrocarbon and seabed minerals: Mauritius has embarked in the evaluation of the hydrocarbon potential in its maritime zone and also contemplates to explore the uncharted opportunities for deep seabed mining in waters beyond its national jurisdiction. Priority is now laid on the development of a sustainable legal framework that will address short and long term needs and opportunities for the country regarding the offshore extractive industry.
Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) and Marine Spatial Planning (MSP): Mauritius has strong coastal zone protection legislation that are prevalent in the ICZM Framework. The Ministry of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change has an ICZM division, which guarantees the institutional sustainability and highlights the government’s commitment to protecting the country’s coastal environment. In addition, the Environment Protection Act (amended 2008) makes provision for the Integrated Coastal Zone Management Committee, which comprise stakeholders from Government, parastatal bodies, private sector, NGOs and Local Authorities which ensures collaboration and information sharing among all stakeholders.
Mauritius has been advancing MSP in key maritime sectors such as port infrastructure, shipping, tourism, seafood, fisheries, aquaculture, underwater cultural heritage and marine renewable energy to strengthen its economic diversification. Mauritius has set up an MSP Coordinating Committee, bringing together all the relevant stakeholders to support the development of a holistic plan. It has also established three technical working groups focusing on new economic activities (aquaculture sites, marina development and tourism and recreational activities), for conservation of the marine ecosystem (to align the conservation strategy with the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and for the setting up of an appropriate framework to support MSP)
Economic Development Board. 2019. Fishing, Seafood and Aquaculture: https://www.edbmauritius.org/opportunities/ocean-economy/fishing-seafood-and-aquaculture/