14 March 2019

Tanzania to 'Ratify' Aquatic Heritage Convention

TANZANIA has maintained its willingness to ratify the 2001 United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) Convention on underwater cultural heritage if the conditions given are met.

Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Constantine Kanyasu disclosed this at the just ended ministerial conference and technical meeting on the protection of underwater cultural heritage for sustainable tourism development in Eastern Africa and the adjacent Indian Ocean islands, the meeting held in Malindi, K enya.

Mr K anyasu said the agreement would involve the exploration of antiquities found underwater, including sunken cities, ships, planes, pieces of pottery, coins, dhows and boats.

Elaborating on the country's position, Mr Kanyasu said there was a need for Unesco to build the capacity of underwater heritage conservation experts to be able to identify and record all areas with anticipated antiq uities.

He also pointed out that the country would need to learn from other countries that had ratified to the Convention and strengthen cooperation with them and those, which had not to gain more experience and expertise on the matter.

The deputy minister highlighted some of the emphasised issues, including the Convention to consider broader interests of the country by not prohibiting the exploration of other resources found in the area stipulated under the agreement.

Upon the agreement, the Convention will be implemented under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism in collaboration with Unesco and the Embassy of Holland.

According to the deputy minister, the plans for implementation of the Convention began since 2006 in the country. The meeting under the auspices of Unesco opened its doors on Monday and was attended by ministers, permanent secretaries and directors responsible for culture from sub- Saharan Africa.

These include the host K enya, Ethiopia, Somali, Rwanda, Mozambique, Tanzania, Seychelles and Djibouti. Of all the 13 countries in the region, only Madagascar has ratified the Convention leaving the remaining countries operating without proper guidelines.

The Convention seeks to help countries forge a common stand in protecting underwater heritage by providing standard professional guidelines.

It also aims at strengthening synergies for the protection of underwater cultural heritage in the region and increase public awareness of the potential to use cultural heritage protection and promotion of sustainable tourism development.

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