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Kenya advised to better manage inland
water sources to spur blue economy

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya must adopt innovative practices to promote sustainable management of inland fresh water, conservationists said on Wednesday, the final day of a three-day blue economy conference in Nairobi.

Lillian Nyaega, program officer at Wetlands International, said that healthy fresh water ecosystems have a direct bearing on the growth of blue economy that seeks to promote food security, trade and water based transportation.

“The inland water bodies like rivers, fresh water lakes and catchment basins have a major contribution to the blue economy. They are interconnected with oceans where the bulk of blue economic activities take place,” said Nyaega.

She emphasized that conservation of fresh water bodies is key to maintaining the ecosystem balance required to enhance growth of blue economic pillars like fisheries and manufacturing.

“Actions that are taken at the upstream will impact on the health of oceans. We should therefore look at the blue economy from a holistic approach,” said Nyaega, adding that sound policies are required to promote sustainable water use amid threats linked to climate change and rapid population growth.

Kenya hosted the world’s first ever blue economy summit that was attended by dozens of heads of state or government, ministers, industry leaders and grassroots campaigners.

The summit sought to reactivate a global conversation on the prudent use of inland water sources, oceans and mangroves to achieve food and energy security as well as climate resilience.

Nyaega said that Kenya is in a vantage position to become a blue economy powerhouse on the back of policy reforms and awareness creation.

“We require better planning and sound policies to enable communities to harness ocean resources in a sustainable manner. Natural capital accounting will ensure coastal communities place value on restoration of mangroves that are breeding site for fish,” said Nyaega.

She urged greater community involvement to ensure implementation of blue economy projects is transparent and has minimal risk to the environment.



Maritime security key to growth of blue economy in Africa: experts

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Securing Africa’s abundant marine resources from emerging threats like illegal fishing, piracy and dumping of toxic waste is key to hastening growth of the continent’s nascent blue economy, experts said on Wednesday in Nairobi.

The security experts, who spoke at a side event on maritime safety during an international meeting on blue economy, said that African countries that are endowed with vast coastlines should intensify vigilance against man-made and environmental threats.

Raychelle Omamo, Kenya’s cabinet secretary for defense, said there is a consensus among African nations on the need to strengthen their maritime security as they embark on revitalizing the key blue economy pillars that include fisheries, tourism and shipping.

“We are convinced that securing our oceans and other marine resources is critical to the growth of blue economy. Safety in our sea lines will facilitate cross-border trade and mineral exploration,” Omamo said.

She urged harmonization of policies, capacity-building, knowledge and information sharing to boost safety of oceans and mangrove forests that are key to food security, climate resilience and job creation in Africa.

“Coordination of our coast guards is critical to secure our marine resources and pave way for the blue economy to take off,” Omamo said, adding that Kenya’s recently launched coast guard marked a milestone in the country’s quest to become a blue-economy hub.

Michelle Stallone, a maritime security expert, said that a motivated coast guard is key to combating illegal fishing and plunder of mangrove forests that are a threat to growth of blue economy in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Safety in the oceans will enable governments and local communities carry out fishing and seabed mining that will support the next phase of industrialization in Africa,” Stallone said.

Daya Bragante, a blue economy specialist at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, said robust collaboration among governments, industries and local communities is key to strengthening protection of Africa’s marine ecosystem amid threats linked to population pressure, over-exploitation and climate change.


Blue economy summit seeks measures to
curb unplanned deep sea oil exploration

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Participants at the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi have called for proper planning at sea to ensure the exploration of oil and gas at sea does not affect wildlife species.

“We have come to an understanding on the need to work together,” January Makamba, the Tanzanian minister of State for Environment at the Vice President’s office, said on Tuesday evening during a special session to discuss marine spatial planning.

Makamba said the proper planning and application of the right policies to allocate resources at the sea was crucial to protect the rich natural wealth at sea.

“You cannot delink what happens at sea from what happens inland,” Makamba said, explaining that his country, Tanzania was struggling with the challenge of balancing the use of space at sea and acquisitions of land for oil and gas.

Makamba said natural resources obtained from the sea required space onshore to effectively exploit, which justified the need for synchronized planning of both.

The Tanzanian minister said there was need for international rules and regulations on how to develop and utilize resources obtained from the sea and how onshore oil would be processed and exported.

The marine planning specialists are examining how to effectively plan for the use of land onshore and offshore to balance human activity and biodiversity.

Experts say a focus is required on how to stimulate sustainable blue economy strategies through national and regional case studies and methods. The focus should remain on balancing the use resources at sea and conservation.

The ministers representing various countries from around the world are also exploring how to attract foreign funding for conservation of nature at sea.

Wallace Cosgrow, the Seychelles Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, said continuous consultations were required on how to protect fish at sea.

He said consultation were required on how to conserve the marine ecology and how new technologies could be applied in the conservation of nature at sea.

Seychelles, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, has largely built its economy around tourism and the fisheries industries.

Currently, less than 7 percent of the world’s oceans are under any form of protection which puts the lives of communities, the coral reefs and other marine fisheries species at risk.

Hazardous waste dumping at sea, oil spills and other environmental threats also threaten large water bodies and communities.

Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed raised concerns about the threats faced by local communities during the conference.

President Mohamed, commonly known as Farmajo, called for protection from hazardous waste dumping and illegal fishing in a speech at the conference.

The protection of marine fisheries and other environmental threats which limits the use of marine resources has been top agenda at the conference.



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