Marine and Coastal Resources Governance

Mozambique has established standards to manage the coastal resources and environmental quality through both domestic and international laws. 

Domestic Laws and Regulations

Policy and Strategy of the Sea of Mozambique 2017

Mozambique launched the “Policy and Strategy of the Sea” (POLMAR), aimed at strengthening state sovereignty over Mozambican waters, and developing a “blue, profitable and sustainable economy at sea”. The policy and strategy establish a normative framework for the use of marine resources, in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It also contributes to the consolidation of a national agenda for the sustainable, integral and multi-sectoral management of marine and coastal areas, access to and use of marine and coastal renewable and non-renewable resources and should be considered as a basis for adoption and implementation of specific sectoral policies.

Govt launches Policy and Strategy of the Sea: Mozambicans must defend maritime environment

The Presidential Decree in 2007 on 8th of March established the Inter – ministerial Commission of Sea and Boarders (COMAF), as the Council of Ministers organ for coordinating actions related to sea and boarders within the framework of defense of national sovereignty and good relationship with the neighboring countries.

The Sea Act (1996)

The Sea Act sets out the jurisdictional claims of Mozambique to the ocean areas and provides the general legal framework for the regulation of activities taking place in these areas. The Act elaborates various maritime zones and also outlines the various components of Mozambican maritime policy and the authority and duties of related governmental bodies.

Policy for Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) of Fisheries, and its Implementation Strategy, Resolution 26/2008

The policy was established to guarantee bio-economic sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources; assure responsible fisheries; assure the existence of a legal framework capable of eliminating Illegal, Unreported Unregulated (IUU) fishing; assure institutionalization of a multi-sectoral and coherent system of surveillance of fisheries and related activities and to consolidate regional cooperation.

Fisheries Law of Mozambique 2013

This Law aims at establishing the legal regime for all fishing activities and all complementary related activities performed by National or foreign fishing vessels operating in waters under Mozambican jurisdiction in order to implement measures on protection, management and sustainable use of national biological aquatic resources.

The Act also sets out the general principles of Mozambican fisheries management which include: (i) the establishment of local fishery administration bodies; (ii) the elaboration of fishery development plans; and (iii) the negotiation of (regional) fisheries cooperation agreements.

Fisheries Policy and implementing strategies

The Fisheries Policy and its implementing strategies aims at the improvement of the internal supply of fish products in order to a) cover a part of the food deficit of Mozambique, b)  increase National incomes generated by this sector and c) improve life conditions of local fishing communities.

Decree-Law No. 31/76 establishing rights of the Popular Republic of Mozambique on economic resources of the adjacent sea

Article 1 of this Decree – Law establishes territorial sea extension up to 12 nautical miles from the baselines. In the zone of 200 nautical miles, adjacent to the territorial sea, the Republic of Mozambique applies full sovereignty related to protection, exploitation, conservation and administration of natural resources (biological or non-biological) of sea depth, soil and surface waters (art. 2).

Environmental Law Act

This Act establishes protective requirements to be satisfied in order to exploit the environmental sector and impact assessment conditions in order to avoid environmental disasters in Mozambique. The act discusses the general principles of environmental management, which should be based on rational use and management, enhancement of local knowledge, awareness, integrated vision of the environment, participation and access, accountability and international cooperation.

Decree No. 45/2006 approving the Regulation for the prevention of marine pollution

This decree demand full compensation for all forms of pollution caused by ships and platforms. It prevents pollution by ships or any other infrastructure which may illegally discharge into the waters including waste waters, residues or any polluting substance. This Decree also approves the regulation of marine pollution and environmental protection of the coastal areas to protect the marine and freshwater ecosystems. 

International Laws and Agreements to which Mozambique is Party 

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982)

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.   For more on Mozambique and the UN Law of the Sea:


International Agreement on the Conservation and Management Measures of High Seas Resources

This agreement promotes compliance with international conservation and management measures by fishing vessels on the high seas. Parties undertake to, inter alia, take all necessary measures to ensure that fishing vessels entitled to fly their flag do not engage in any activity that undermines the effectiveness of international conservation and management measures.

International Convention on Preparation, Combat and Cooperation against Hydrocarbon Pollution

The Convention establishes measures for dealing with pollution incidents, either nationally or in co-operation with other countries. Ships are required to carry a shipboard oil pollution emergency plan. Operators of offshore units under the jurisdiction of Parties are also required to have oil pollution emergency plans or similar arrangements which must be coordinated with national systems for responding promptly and effectively to oil pollution incidents.

Ships are required to report incidents of pollution to coastal authorities and the convention details the actions that are then to be taken. The Convention calls for the establishment of stockpiles of oil spill combating equipment, the holding of oil spill combating exercises and the development of detailed plans for dealing with pollution incidents.

International Convention for Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL)

MARPOL is the main international convention covering prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes. The Convention includes regulations aimed at preventing and minimizing pollution from ships – both accidental pollution and that from routine operations.

International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage, 30 May 1996

The ensures adequate compensation is available to persons who suffer oil pollution damage resulting from maritime casualties involving oil-carrying ships.

Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter

This Convention contributes to the international control and prevention of marine pollution by prohibiting the dumping of certain hazardous materials. In addition, a special permit is required prior to dumping of several identified materials and a general permit for other wastes or matter.

The United Nations Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (in force as from 11 December 2001)

This Agreement sets out principles for the conservation and management of those fish stocks and establishes that such management must be based on the precautionary approach and the best available scientific information. The Agreement elaborates on the fundamental principle, established in the Convention, that States should cooperate to ensure conservation and promote the objective of the optimum utilization of fisheries resources both within and beyond the exclusive economic zone. The Agreement attempts to achieve this objective by providing a framework for cooperation in the conservation and management of those resources.

International Code of Security of Ships and Port Infrastructure

The International Ship and Port Facility Security Code is an essential maritime regulation for the safety and security of ships, ports, cargo and crew.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992)

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

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.

Convention on Biological Biodiversity (1992)

This Convention supports Mozmabique to conserve biological diversity, promote the sustainable use of its components, and encourage equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of genetic resources. Such equitable sharing includes appropriate access to genetic resources, as well as appropriate transfer of technology, considering existing rights over such resources and such technology.

The Convention places a duty on States Parties to conserve biological diversity within their jurisdiction, as well as outside their jurisdiction in certain cases (art. 4); requires States to cooperate in preserving biological diversity in areas out of national jurisdiction (art. 5);  conferring responsibility on States Parties for the formulation and implementation of strategies, plans or programmes for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity (art. 6).

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

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 Mozambique meet the obligations under SDG Targets 14.2 and 14.5 and Aichi Target 11, besides other SDGs by publishing the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Outlook for the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region.

Mozambique has made significant progress towards increasing the total coverage of MPAs. The current seven MPAs protecting 2 per cent of the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) will help Mozambique build resilience to extreme weather events, allow the country to maintain its important fish stocks, and protect its spectacular biodiversity. Find out more about the Marine Protected Areas in Mozambique at the Nairobi Convention Dashboard here.