The Northern Mozambique Channel initiative made a mark at the 9th Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) Symposium with representation of Dr. David Obura (CORDIO East Africa), Mr. Harifidy Ralison (WWF-Madagascar), Mr. Dresy Lavosoa (WWF-Madagascar) among others.
The 9th WIOMSA Symposium was held at the prestigious Wild Coast Sun Resort and Casino in Port Edwards, Eastern Cape, South Africa from 26-31 October 2015. It was organized with several local partners including the University of KwaZulu Natal (UKZN), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Government of Sweden, Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI), Kwa Zulu Natal Sharks Board, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the Province of KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental affairs. WIOMSA’s vision and mission is to study and care for the Western Indian Ocean, combining science and local indigenous knowledge to promote healthy, functioning ecosystems, and protect ocean resources for all users and stakeholders. The Symposium attracted huge participation of over 500 scientists drawn from the WIO region and internationally, and drawn from research institutions, universities, governments and industry.
The NMC initiative was presented in the session “Sub-regional multi-disciplinary studies” (The natural assets underpinning a Northern Mozambique Channel sub-regional initiative – by D. Obura, V. Burgener, H. Ralison and P. Scheren), attracting huge interest from scientists working in the channel, and the foundation of the initiative on the geological history of the channel echoed the call made by Dr. Mike Watkeys’ plenary presentation that reminded biologists not to forget the importance of the “geological canvas on which life is painted”.
The initiative was referenced on more than one occasion especially in relations to its efforts around marine spatial planning (MSP), and featured in some tweets during the symposium.
The NMC initiative was discussed at an informal WIO-C lunch-time meeting with representation from WWF, the Nairobi Convention Secretariat, Wildlife Conservation Society, Conservation International, Wetlands International and WIOMSA. The meeting discussed the endorsement process for the initiative at the WIOC, and emphasized the need to ramp up visible actions and engagement by multiple partners.
The WIOMSA Conference culminated in a declaration from the WIOMSA scientific community to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 21st Conference of Parties (“COP21) to realize its potential and to reduce our collective dependence on industries and activities that emit greenhouse gases and to significantly increase investment in the green/blue economy. The declaration was submitted as a petition on Avaaz and obtained 551 signatures, and was featured through a video prepared by IRD that streamed at the IRD exhibit stand at the COP venue.