Regional Initiatives

Regional Initiatives :

The Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Co-operation (IOR-ARC), was formed in 1997 by 14 riparian states in the region. The IOR-ARC has aspirations to become like the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) or the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Its aims are: ‘to promote sustained growth, balanced development, liberalization and to foster closer cooperation in global economic issues and human resources development’.

At the same time, non-governmental organizations from seven Indian Ocean countries formed a Civil Society Indian Ocean Network (CSIONET). The CSIONET has as its objective ‘sustainable development, economic progress, participatory democracy and environmental equity in the Indian Ocean region. The CSIONET hopes to function as a dialogue partner with the IOR-ARC.

A proposal on conservation of fish resources in the Indian Ocean region was approved at the IOR-ARC’s Ministerial Conference held at Muscat, Oman, in April 2001. IOR-ARC also aims at maximising the benefits of globalization to the Indian Ocean rim countries. This could lead to an expansion of industrial and service sector activities in the coastal areas, which will have significant positive and negative implications for the coastal marine environment and the livelihood of people who are dependent on it.

At the sectoral level, the establishment of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) in 1996 with the objective of optimum utilization of 16 tuna and tuna-like fish in the IOR is also highly significant. The IOTC has management powers and it is the first of its kind among the regional fisheries organizations under the FAO Constitution. With the likelihood of the imminent ratification of the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreements, regional fisheries management organizations (like the IOTC) will become quite powerful. IOTC already has provisions to allow NGO participation at its meetings if member countries do not object.