THE Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) opened a two-day workshop here yesterday amid rising concerns over illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities in the region, with member countries expected to come up with a joint strategy to tackle the problem.
Senior officials from eleven out of 21 IORA member states are attending the workshop, which among other key issues, will deliberate on regional strategies to address the sustainable management and development of fisheries resources.
The overriding theme will be how the region improves the management and conservation of the region's rich fish resources to sustain the fishing sub-sector, which is a shared interest among Indian Ocean coastal states.
In his opening remarks, the Zanzibar second vice President, Ambassador Seif Ali Idd, noted that despite the large potentials offered by the fisheries sector, there was a huge concern among member states over illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities in the regional waters.
"We are even more concerned with the lack of a harmonised strategy aimed at ensuring that countries on the Indian Ocean Rim are actively and jointly engaged in efforts for sustainable management and development of fisheries resources in the region," noted Ambassador Idd in a speech read on his behalf by the Minister of Health, Mr Mahmoud Thabit Kombo.
"As we embrace the blue economy as a complimentary but also an alternative economic pillar for balanced economic development, it is imperative to have a regional strategy to address the sustainable management and development of fisheries resources in the Indian Ocean Rim Region," he added.
He said, as direct beneficiaries of the Indian Ocean, IORA member states are obliged to ensure that the Ocean and its potential is sustainably used for the development and prosperity of its population.
Given the complex and diverse nature of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing operations, the second vice President said the region's members should maintain the spirit of cooperation and collaboration in combating the challenges facing the fishing industry, both at the national and regional level.
"I have no doubt that the common challenges we are facing in the management of fisheries in the region, will be extensively explored through sharing of experiences, ideas, solutions and identifying and prioritise national and regional projects which together will prove a framework for the regional strategy," he remarked.