Ten countries have resolved to end coastal, marine environmental pollution and degradation in the Western Indian Ocean region.
The countries which are also the contracting parties for the Nairobi Convention are Comoros, France, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania and the Republic of South Africa.
Apart from the marine resolutions, there were a raft of other resolutions arrived at during the ninth conference of parties to the convention for the protection, management and development of the marine and coastal environment of the Western Indian Ocean region.
The two-day convention took place in Mombasa and was organised by the Nairobi Convention in collaboration with the Government of Kenya, the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) and other key partners.
Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko officially opened the conference.
Presenters during the conference expressed concerns over the potential threats to marine life arising from the impact of anthropogenic ocean noise and shipping activities in the Western Indian Ocean region,
“We have decided to request the secretariat to develop and support the implementation of priority areas, including the management of marine protected areas, taking into account marine and coastal biodiversity conservation and connectivity in the exclusive economic zones and adjacent areas, ocean governance, pollution from land-based sources and activities, climate change, including ocean acidification, environmental management for the oil and gas industry, growth of the blue economy, scientific research, fisheries management,” said the resolution.
The conference also called for the management of marine litter and municipal wastewater in the Western Indian Ocean
“We request the secretariat, in collaboration and cooperation with partners, to develop a regional strategy or action plan or both on the management of marine litter and micro plastics and the establishment of a marine litter regional technical working group in the Western Indian Ocean region,” the resolution report noted. “We also urge the Contracting Parties to affirm their will to discourage plastic microbeads, take measures to ban their use in the region and promote the exchange of expertise, best practice and lessons learned.”
The countries also called for the amendment of the Protocol Concerning Protected Areas and Wild Fauna and Flora in the Eastern African Region
“We have requested the secretariat and responsible partners to expedite the process of finalization and validation of the status report on sharks and rays, including the regional roadmap, and to also develop a concept paper on mitigation options to minimize the impact on biodiversity and the natural environment from developments, with recommendations for consideration at the next Conference of Parties.”
Other resolutions include to develop and support implementation of projects, environmental management for oil and gas development, climate change adaptation and mitigation, marine spatial planning for the blue and ocean economy and development of marine protected areas and critical habitat outlooks
“We have also agreed to establish additional partnerships, including with regional economic communities, such as the East African Community, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the Southern Africa Development Community and the Indian Ocean Commission,” the countries said.
Other partnerships will include the United Nations regional commissions; with regional fisheries management organizations, such as the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission and the South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission, on sustainable fisheries management, West Indian Ocean Challenge on matters of environmental assessment; with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
When he opened the conference last week, Mr Tobiko said the government will use the huge potential of the oceans and the blue resources in the country to boost economic growth.
He said proper utilisation of the oceans and the blue resources will tackle unemployment, address food insecurity and poverty.
“Like other countries in the region, Kenya attach great value to the oceans and the blue resources, as it contributes significantly to our economy,” Mr Balala said.
“In fact, the Government, in recognition of the importance of the blue economy established a State Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Blue Economy as part of the efforts to maximise on the contributions of the blue resources and lead in marine spatial planning.”
This, he said is in addition to another State Department for Maritime and Shipping Affairs.
The CS said that the government is currently implementing the issue of marine pollution as part of the outcomes of the UN environmental assembly held last year and themed ‘‘Towards a pollution free planet.’’