News & events


IORA Blue Economy Core Group Workshop

04 May 2015

(DATE: 4 – 5 May 2015)


Deputy Minister, honourable NC Mfeketo (DIRCO)
Prof.  Theo Andre, Executive Dean (DUT)
Director General, Ambassador Matjila  (DIRCO)
Deputy Director General, Ambassador Sooklal (DIRCO)
Secretary General of IORA
Ambassadors and High Commissioners
Researchers an Academic Staff
Distinguished delegates and guests

Good evening

The Indian Ocean region is home to nearly one-third of the world’s population and is of high economic significance due to its strategic location. 50% of the world’s trade is shipped through the Indian Ocean. In addition, the region possesses a variety of natural resources that are vital for the wellbeing of all its inhabitants. As such, the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) has placed more emphasis on growing the blue economy (or ocean economy).

Growth through the Blue Economy is a long term strategy to support sustainable and inclusive growth in the marine and maritime sectors. As the Indian Ocean is a valuable resource that is a main driver for the Indian Ocean Rim economies, and holds great potential for innovation and sustainable job creation, it is necessary to work together to collect data and produce high quality research on aspects of the Blue Economy that most affect the region.

Therefore, because the full socio-economic potential of the Indian Ocean has not been fully studied or realised, it is vital to focus on unpacking the meaning and value of the Blue Economy in ensuring sustainable growth in the region. This will be achieved through the cooperation of the 20 Member States of IORA (soon to be 21 with the inclusion of Somalia) as well as IORA’s 6 Dialogue Partners, some of whom are represented here today.
During the October 2014 IORA Ministerial meeting in Perth matters surrounding the Blue Economy and related issues such as Maritime Search and Rescue operations and maritime security were discussed. Speaking of the Blue Economy, Australian Minister, the Honourable Julie Bishop, as Chair of IORA, emphasised the importance of research to assist IORA countries in developing new technologies to harness resources in the ocean in a sustainable way.

At the meeting held in Perth, the Foreign Ministers agreed that IORA should lead in the implementation of the Blue Economy for the benefit of all its Member States. Australia has placed an emphasis on this potential as current chair of IORA, and the next chair, Indonesia, will continue this focus, with South Arica as the deputy chair.
When it is SAs turn to chair from 2017 to 2019,  we hope that the Blue Economy Core Group would have produced research of real value to the region. This workshop is certainly a positive start. This is why the Human Sciences Research Council, as SA’s premier Social Science and Humanities council, has proposed the focus of such research projects going forward. This approach is also in line with the priorities of the Presidency as articulated in Operation Phakisa (Hurry and deliver services). The Oceans Economy Lab, under the leadership of the South African Department of Environmental Affairs has already been completed. The focus of this think tank was about unlocking the potential of South Africa’s oceans. With SA being bordered by the ocean on three sides, long term development programmes must include the coastal and ocean resources, and not only land resources.

In 2010 the ocean contributed approximately R54 billion to our GDP and accounted for about 316 000 jobs. The ocean has the potential to contribute up to R177 billion to GDP and  create between 800 000 and 1 million jobs. Among Operation Phakisa’s focus areas are those being explored here. South Africa is therefore very interested to see the outcomes of this workshop.  

Therefore, HSRC, at the request of the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation, seeks to coordinate the development of the IORA Blue Economy Core Group, which entails a framework for academic cooperation and researcher exchanges in the areas of blue growth, and provides support for networking in these areas in the form of several workshops to promote joint activities related to the blue economy. We are most grateful that the DIRCO has entrusted us to organize this workshop and for the Durban University of Technology for agreeing  to partner with us for this first workshop in Durban, and for the support of the IORA secretariat, both financial and otherwise.

Further efforts to map work done on the Blue Economy within IORA requires a coordinated and inclusive approach towards better harnessing our ocean’s wealth and resources that would yield shared benefits for all. There has been an agreement to focus on two major sectors to begin with:

1.    Fisheries & Aquaculture
2.    Maritime Safety & Security

In the longer term, the focus would be expanded to include Shipping, and Oil and Gas Exploration.

Fisheries & Aquaculture
Fishing is one of the main resources of the Indian Ocean, which provides food to hundreds of millions of people and greatly contributes to the livelihoods of coastal communities, especially women. It plays an important role in ensuring food security, poverty alleviation and also has a huge potential for employment and business opportunities.
To meet the increasing public demand in seafood products, natural fisheries resources are being overexploited and threatened. The aquaculture industry is one of the alternatives to relieve pressure on fisheries and remedy to this situation. Aquaculture development, as a means to sustain the world’s fish supplies, is a promising sector, and several aspects require future attention from IORA Member States.
Maritime Safety & Security
The Indian Ocean region is a diverse community of economic development, languages, cultures, and civilisations. It is an essential platform linking the 20 IORA Member States for the common objective of ensuring prosperity and sustainable economic growth. Thus, despite all the differences in the Rim, the ocean binds us all together.
However, the Indian Ocean region is also subjected to several safety and security challenges including: piracy; illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; human trafficking; drug smuggling; trafficking of weapons; maritime pollution; climate change; among others. These issues necessitate the attention of IORA Member States to enhance Maritime Safety and Security within Region as a means of ensuring reliable, uninterrupted and safe movement of people, goods, energy, and resource supplies through the Indian Ocean.

We are at the end of our first day of deliberations, and it already appears that our commonalities far outweigh any differences we may have. Shared concerns include food security; environmental protection; climate change and safety and security. The discussions in this regard have been vibrant and I trust that we will continue to build on our gains tomorrow.
To recollect, the aim of the workshop is to conceptualise how to concentrate effectively on the Blue Economy (also known as blue/ ocean growth) within the context of IORA.

These objectives include:
•    To share experiences and best practices on local and regional initiatives related to the Fisheries & Aquaculture and Maritime Safety & Security.
•    To coordinate the development of the IORA Blue Economy Core Group, which should include a framework for researcher exchanges in Member States.
•    To provide support for networking measures in the form of several workshops to promote cooperation activities related to Fisheries & Aquaculture and Maritime Safety & Security.
•    To create an active community of research-based institutions, universities, public and private sector interested in the blue economy.
•    To build capacity, by empowering a younger generation of experts, researchers, academics and scholars to take ownership of their research environment and to aid in shaping its direction.
•    To increase funding accessibility and regional cooperation in research and development in the Fisheries & Aquaculture and Maritime Safety & Security in the IOR region.
•    To analyse the capacities, needs, technology transfer, strength and weaknesses of Member States in terms of the Blue Economy.
•    To promote interstate trust and cooperation for Maritime Safety & Security.

We hope that when we all go home to our respective countries after this intensive two day workshop in Durban, that we would have succeeded in establishing the Blue Economy Core Group. This will contribute towards increasing knowledge production and the understanding of the Blue Economy in the region through initiating research exchanges, capacity building and skills development, and contribute to a strengthened IORA Academic Group.

On behalf of the HSRC and South Africa, we trust that you find value in this opportunity to network with one another as experts, government officials and stakeholders, and that you continue to contribute towards policy-making in areas related to the Blue Economy.
We also trust that you are enjoying the hospitality of Durban.

Thank you.