Official Launch of the Investigator II Multipurpose Support Vessel
Address by HE Ms Jenny Dee
Australian High Commissioner to Mauritius
- The Hon Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, Prime Minister of the Republic of Mauritius
- Hon. Sudheer Maudhoo, Minister of Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping
- Honourable Ministers
- Members of the National Assembly
- Diplomatic colleagues
- Distinguished guests
- Ladies and gentlemen
It is a pleasure to be here today for the launch of the new multipurpose support vessel, Investigator II, acquired by the Government of Mauritius with co-financing by the Australian Government.
This year marks 50 years since Australia and Mauritius established diplomatic relations. We are celebrating under the theme “Partners in the Indian Ocean”. Our shared interests and growing collaboration in the Blue Economy is recognised as a key pillar of our contemporary relationship. I very much welcome the arrival of the Investigator II in strengthening this partnership.
Prime Minister, here in Mauritius the Blue Economy has been identified as one of the pillars of Mauritius’ economic development. Like Mauritius, Australia understands the biodiversity of our oceans is a significant resource, and our sustainable development is connected to its health. Under the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, all nations have committed to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources under SDG 14.
World fisheries support 170 million jobs and more than 1.5 billion people rely on marine sources for their protein intake. Marine and coastal tourism, aquaculture and other uses of marine environments also provide livelihoods for millions of people across the globe.
Like all good public policy, we must invest in sound research, evidence and data, with regulatory frameworks implemented transparently and effectively. In Australia, we established the National Marine Science Committee – an advisory body to focus on promoting high quality marine science and growth of Australia’s blue economy. And in 2015, this Committee launched a 10 year National Marine Science Plan, recognising that Australia’s marine industries will contribute around $100 billion a year to our economy by 2025.
We hope this multipurpose support vessel will assist Mauritius and Rodrigues in expanding the quality and quantity of research to contribute to the development of sustainable practices, policies, and regulatory frameworks in the blue economy here in Mauritius. And provide a basis for further international collaborations on innovative joint research projects.
In 2019, Australia launched the largest ever Cooperative Research Centre on the Blue Economy (over $300million over 10 years) to deliver world-class industry focussed research on integrated seafood and renewable energy production systems. The Centre is a partnership across Government, Universities, Private Sector – looking for solutions to meet global demand for food and energy across oceanic waves, tidal currents and wind. This research extends beyond Australia and we look forward to exploring ways to connect Mauritius, including through the Investigator II.
This vessel has been manufactured in Australia by Steber International and its CEO Alan Steber regrets he is unable to be here today. Steber has had over a 30 year relationship with Mauritius when it delivered its first vessel in 1986.
As a large ocean nation, Australia relies on the Indian Ocean for our security and prosperity. We possess the longest Indian Ocean coastline of any country, as well as the largest search and rescue zone – a border we share with Mauritius. With more than 85 per cent of Australia’s population living within 50 km of the coast, Australians expect our estuaries, beaches, coasts and oceans to be healthy and productive. We share concerns on pollution, plastics and marine litter, climate change, and unsustainable uses. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison participates in the High Level Panel for Sustainable Ocean Economy in the knowledge that failure to act on these shared concerns will lead to failure to realise the SDG’s vision of a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable future. Regional and international cooperation is key to addressing these challenges and I am pleased Australia and Mauritius are partnering across key institutions to tackle these challenges.
Australia believes all nations have a responsibility to work together to keep the Indian Ocean open, inclusive and prosperous - to promote and protect the international rules that support stability and prosperity and enable cooperation to tackle global challenges. A priority for Australia is to strengthen regional architecture so that the Indian Ocean region is equipped to address emerging challenges and capitalise on economic opportunities.
The Indian Ocean Rim Association is an important platform toward achieving this shared vision. Last week, the IORA Indian Ocean Blue Carbon Hub launched its first event in Mauritius – supported by Australia’s CSIRO who recently signed an MoU with the Mauritian Ministry of Blue Economy to deepen marine science cooperation. With some 50 per cent of the world’s blue carbon stocks, the Indian Ocean region and IORA can assume a lead role globally on this issue.
We have welcomed the opportunity to work with Mauritius, and Belize, as co-champions of the Commonwealth Blue Charter on Coral Reef Protection and Restoration Action Group - pooling our knowledge in coral reef science and management, recognising the critical role Australia has to protect the Great Barrier Reef. We look forward to working with Mauritius to host the next Action Group workshop later this year. Australia also sees the International Coral Reef Initiative as an important mechanism to reinforce the work of the Blue Charter.
We all understand that healthy coral reef ecosystems are critical for maintaining rich biodiversity, providing livelihoods and food security from fisheries, revenue from tourism, erosion prevention and coastal protection from extreme weather events. I look forward to the contribution this new research vessel will be able to make to increase understanding of these areas in Mauritius, and build on the strong collaborations already in place between Australia and Mauritius – across government, universities and the private sector. From Subcon’s coral reef regrowth technologies being used in Mon Choisy to University of Western Australia and University of Mauritius working with Sun Hotels to address beach erosion off Flic en Flac, and to Curtin Mauritius exploring marine science education and research opportunities to support the positioning of Mauritius a regional education hub.
The Australian Government is committed to building Mauritius skills in this sector, sharing knowledge, innovation and technology, and learning from your own experiences. Our Australia Awards scholarships have seen Mauritians return from study at some of our best marine science and technology institutions across the Australian continent. For the last two years, the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS) of the University of Wollongong and the University of Mauritius have partnered on a Short Course on “Ocean Management: Sustainable Fisheries and Governance”.
Today’s launch marks a milestone. I would like to thank those before us who had the vision to kick off this project. And thank all those who have organised today’s launch. We look forward to this investment being utilised fully in order that Mauritius can make the most of the opportunities that sustainable development of the ocean economy can deliver for current and future generations.
And Australia looks forward to continuing to collaborate with you – as Partners in the Indian Ocean - as we seek that same goal.
5 March 2020