Government in collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is preparing a Wetland Bill, under the UNDP project: Mainstreaming Biodiversity into the Management of the Coastal Zone in the Republic of Mauritius, announced the Attorney General, Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr Maneesh Gobin, yesterday at a function organised at Bras D'Eau National Park to mark World Wetlands Day 2020. The theme of this year's edition is 'Wetlands and Biodiversity'. It has been chosen to initiate action for the protection of wetlands and its biodiversity for the future generations.
The Mainstreaming Biodiversity into the Management of the Coastal Zone in the Republic of Mauritius project aims to conserve and sustainably manage coastal and marine biodiversity in the Republic using the proxy of Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) which are defined as areas that are rich in biodiversity and that provide essential ecosystem services, but that suffer from growing anthropogenic pressures. It addresses six coastal and marine ESA types, namely seagrass and algal beds, coral reefs, sand beaches and dunes, intertidal mud flats, coastal wetlands, and mangroves covering just under 41000 hectares, of which about 60% lies in Rodrigues and 40% in Mauritius.
The function, organised by the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security in collaboration with the National Parks and Conservation Service, was graced by the presence of the Minister of Technology, Communication and Innovation, Mr Deepak Balgobin, and the Minister of Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping, Mr. Sudheer Maudhoo, and other personalities. On the same occasion, endemic plants were symbolically planted in the National Park by students of Simadry Virasawmy SSS of Rivière du Rempart and Mahatma Gandhi Secondary School, Flacq.
In his address, Minister Gobin stated that apart from the Ramsar Sites, which are recognised internationally, there are dozens of wetlands and environmentally sensitive areas that need to be protected and preserved and Government is fully aware of the need to identify and protect these ecosystems and is putting in place the necessary legal and administrative frameworks.
A National Ramsar Committee has been set up under the chairmanship of the Senior Chief Executive of my Ministry and comprising members from all relevant institutions involved with wetlands to assist the Ministry in implementing the provisions contained in the Ramsar Convention and to advise the Ministry on Wetland development issues, he added.
Mauritius, he recalled, became a contracting party to the Ramsar Convention on 30 September 2001. The first Ramsar Site in Mauritius is the Rivulet Terre Rouge Estuary Bird Sanctuary for the protection of migratory birds and the two other Ramsar Sites are: the Blue Bay Marine Park, which focuses mainly on coral protection; and Pointe D'Esny, whose main focus is mangroves protection.
World Wetlands Day
World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on 2nd of February to mark the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea, where one of the most important wetland, the Anzali wetland, covering an area of about 19 095 hectares, is located.
The Ramsar Convention is an international government agreement acknowledging the importance of wetlands and plays a central role in the wise use and conservation of these critical ecosystems. There are 2 375 wetlands of international importance, so called Ramsar sites, around the world, with a total surface area of the designated sites of about 253,615ha. One hundred and seventy-one countries worldwide are contracting parties to the Convention.