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'Ocean's health linked to national security': Maldives partners with Blue Prosperity Coalition

Fathmath Shaahunaz
26 September 2019, MVT 10:50
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (R) at the ceremony to mark Maldives' partnership with Blue Prosperity Coalition. PHOTO/PRESIDENT'S OFFICE
Fathmath Shaahunaz
26 September 2019, MVT 10:50

The government of Maldives on Thursday entered into partnership with Blue Prosperity Coalition, a global network working towards ocean protection and Blue Economies.

The Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Maldives and Blue Prosperity Coalition as part of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's visit to New York, to attend the 74th Annual Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla Shahid signed the agreement on behalf of the Maldivian government, while Blue Prosperity Coalition was represented by Ted Waitt, the founder and chairman of Waitt Foundation.

President Solih oversaw the signing ceremony, during which he declared that economic growth can and must occur in harmony with ocean-friendly practices. He said that comprehensive scientific research and analysis are required to understand such practices.

The president hailed the efforts of Blue Prosperity Coalition towards safeguarding the oceans, stating that their core values and principles resonate with those of Maldives.

He further expressed hopes that the partnership would help Maldives to better implement measures for sustainable ocean government through collaborative marine scientific research.

“For us, protecting the ocean’s health is an issue linked to our national security".

Under the new partnership, Maldives and Blue Prosperity Coalition will devise a six-year programme to ensure the sustainability of Maldivian waters and marine environment, including territorial seas, archipelagic seas and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The agreement will also promote the advancement of Maldivian ocean science and stewardship through research, education, capacity building and outreach, including collaborating with and providing support to local scientists and civil society.

According to the President's Office, the government is looking to declare at least 20 percent of Maldives’ waters as protected areas under this agreement. In addition, the administration will promote regional engagement to strengthen Maldives’ position in managing shared Indian Ocean tuna stocks, develop a programme to advance blue economy activities, ensure sustainable ocean management, and improve public and private sustainable finance mechanisms for ocean management.

The Blue Prosperity Foundation is a coalition of partners engaging with countries to protect 30 percent of the oceans and establish a Blue Prosperity Plan through Marine Spatial Planning (MSP), an approach that uses spatial information about natural resources and human uses to develop a comprehensive management system.

Thirty percent of the ocean requires protection in order to maximise fisheries and recover marine resources. However, only less than four percent is currently strongly protected as no-take zones, while 60 countries use MSPs to manage ocean economies. The total global ocean economy is presently valued at USD24 trillion, with over a billion people relying on seafood as the primary source of protein.