Research on the blue economy gains momentum as Australia and Seychelles’ ocean-oriented research institutes forge partnerships
View of the Seychelles Port of Victoria. Australia is collaborating with Seychelles to develop academic and cultural exchanges in the fields of teaching, research, training and other activities to create more awareness on the blue economy concept. (Gerard Larose, STB)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Australia is partnering with Seychelles to develop the blue economy concept, especially in terms of research and training. The Oceans Institute at the University of Western Australia is one institution that formalized an agreement this week, with the Blue Economy Research Institute, which is part of the University of Seychelles, UniSey.
The aim is to develop academic and cultural exchanges in the fields of teaching, research, training and other activities mainly relating to marine environment and marine related activities.
Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands, has a total land area of 455 km² spread over an Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.3 million square km, which means over 99 percent of its territory is oceanic space.
The blue economy is a concept which Seychelles has been actively promoting locally and on the international scene as well, as more than two thirds of the earth’s surface is covered by water.
The focus is on sustainable development vis-à-vis various ocean activities and marine related issues from fisheries and aquaculture, coastal and island tourism, renewable energy, shipping and marine security, climate change adaptation among others.
The Blue Economy Research Institute was established in March 2015, as part of UniSey, to address the need to create more awareness on the subject.
“The key function [of the institute] is to identify and conduct research synergies between different sectors and actively seek partnership locally and internationally to support advanced sustainable development initiatives,” the Director of the Blue Economy Research Institute, Kelly Hoareau, explained to SNA in an interview.
The agreement with the Oceans Institute at the University of Western Australia that was signed on Wednesday is being viewed as the first kind of initiative to help towards that goal.
Hoareau said that the focus will be on tackling academic research and other activities including short courses in certain areas of needs not only in Seychelles but in the region.
The newly set up Seychelles Blue Economy Institute is confident that the partnership will help the institute to collaborate with other partners of the Australian research institution and identify the need to develop cooperation with other relevant international organisations in future.
The Blue Economy Research Institute meanwhile is also working with existing and new partners including the national parks authority, civil society and youth organisations to develop a youth village and an institute for research in the blue economy, at Cap Ternay.
The site being proposed for the development was previously earmarked for a major proposed hotel development, which the Seychelles government called off early this year.
“The aim is to develop an environmental education space…focusing on coastal marine education and research. We still have to do feasibility studies and discuss with all stakeholders on how to best use the space,” said Hoareau.
|UniSey's Vice Chancellor Dennis Hardy and the Director of the Blue Economy Research Institute, Kelly Hoareau signing documents pertaining to the collaboration with the Oceans Institute at the University of Western Australia. (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
Aside of the blue economy, education on the wider local environment is also receiving the support of Australia following the launching on Wednesday of a new science project being coordinated by UniSey with funding allocated from the Australian High Commission’s direct aid program.
A sum of around $17 thousand has been made available to fund the purchase research equipment to facilitate environment conservation and management projects undertaken by students, teachers and volunteers as part of the University Centre of Environmental education (UCEE),
“The equipment will be used in the UCEE for data collection, analysis and interpretation of soil, water and biological data. These tools, techniques and instruments will enable students to achieve a greater appreciation of the importance of biology, hydrology, hydrogeology, geophysics and geochemistry, amongst other disciplines,” said Sherley Marie, the Dean for faculty of science and humanities.
The collaboration between the Australian institutions and the University of Seychelles is also being seen as concrete steps being taken by Indian Ocean Rim countries to promote the blue economy, which is also expected to be discussed in an upcoming ministerial meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) in Mauritius.
Both Seychelles and Australia are member states of the IORA.
“We are both island states, and as such we are acutely aware of the impacts of climate change: issues such as rising sea levels; disaster risk management; mitigating the effects of natural disasters increasingly felt in our Indo-Pacific region; and the need to direct the efforts of researchers, policy-makers and economists toward the development of renewable energy sources and the more sustainable development of our island economies, whatever the size and scale,” said the Australian High commissioner, Susan Coles who was present at the event on Wednesday.
“And there are more collaboration in the pipeline, two officials from the Seychelles will follow sustainable fisheries management courses at University of Wollongong under the Australian leadership Awards Program and the Seychelles will benefit from the IORA Economic Diplomacy funding which will include projects to promote sustainable whale and dolphin watching, tourism, fisheries management and training.”