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Second National Ocean science Forum


									                                  PRESS RELEASE

          Third Mauritius National Ocean Science Forum
                Fourth Scientific Symposium of the
         Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association

                     Grand Baie International Conference Centre
                          29th August to 2nd September 2005

The Mauritius Oceanography Institute (MOI) is organising, for the third consecutive year, the
Mauritius National Ocean Science Forum on Monday 29th of August 2005 at the Grand Baie
International Conference Centre.

Immediately after this event, the MOI will host the Fourth Scientific Symposium of the Western
Indian Ocean Marine Science Association from the 30th of August to the 2nd of September 2005
at the same venue.

1.     Mauritius National Ocean Science Forum - Monday 29th of August 2005

Since 2003, the Mauritius Oceanography Institute has been organising the National Ocean Science
Forum. The objectives of this forum are to:
        Communicate new marine research and ocean development activities in the country
        Offer a platform for multi-disciplinary discussion among scientists, technicians and
          policy planners
        Raise awareness among students and the public on the importance of ocean resources in
          the socio-economic development of Mauritius.

Each year the National Ocean Science has provided an opportunity for local marine scientists to
meet in a formal way and to present the results of their scientific research to their colleagues, to
policy makers and to members of the public.

This year, we shall be presenting scientific contributions from the Albion Fisheries Research Centre
of the Ministry of Fisheries, the Ministry of Environment, the Maritime Air Squadron of the
National Coast Guard, the University of Mauritius, the Mauritius Institute of Education, the
University of London, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Kitasato University of Japan,
Academia Sinica of Taiwan, the Mauritius Oceanography Institute and from various NGOs, namely
Shoals Rodrigues, the Biodiversity and Environment Institute and the Marine Conservation
Management Consortium. It is to be noted that all the papers will present the results of research
carried out in the Republic of Mauritius.
The presentation of papers will be preceded by the official opening ceremony with Hon. Anil
Bachoo, Minister of Environment & National Development Unit as the Chief Guest. This year,
again, the keynote speaker will be Dr. Patricio Bernal Assistant Director General of UNESCO and
Executive Secretary of the IOC. During the opening ceremony, the Mauritius Oceanography
Institute will also launch the Atlas on Mapping of the Marine Habitats of South East Coast of
Mauritius and will award prizes to the three winners of a website competition organised earlier on
the theme “ The importance of the ocean for small island developing states”

The programme for the opening ceremony on Monday 29th August 2005 is as follows:

09 30 – 09 35   Welcome Speech – Dr. M.Bhikajee, Director, Mauritius Oceanography Institute.

0935 – 09 45    Speech – Mr. S. C. Seeballuck, Secretary for Home Affairs, Prime Minister’s Office on
                behalf of Prof I.Fagoonee, Chairman of the Mauritius Oceanography Institute.

09 45 – 09 55   Speech – Dr. Patricio Bernal Assistant Director General of UNESCO and Executive
                Secretary of the IOC.

09 55 – 10 15   Inaugural Speech - Hon. Anil Bachoo, Minister of Environment & National
                Development Unit.

10 15 – 10 25   Launching of the Atlas on Mapping of the Marine Habitats of South East Coast of

10 25 – 10 35   Award Ceremony for website competition on SIDS

2.     Fourth Scientific Symposium of the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association
       - 30th of August to 2nd of September 2005

The Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association organises its symposium every two years.
The theme of this year’s symposium is Advances in Marine Science in Western Indian Ocean
Region: Contribution of Research in Improving Human Welfare and Poverty Alleviation.

More than one hundred and twenty five foreign marine scientists will present the results of their
research in this symposium

3.     Background information on the Mauritius Oceanography Institute
The Mauritius Oceanography Institute (MOI), was established in January 2000 by the proclamation
of the MOI Act (Act No. 24 of 1999). The need to rationalise and co-ordinate research and
development activities related to Oceanography was the motive for the setting up of the MOI.
The Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Republic of Mauritius extends over an area of about
1.9 million square kilometres, and provides Mauritius with a wide maritime zone to manage. This
coastal and ocean territory holds an immense potential for development which could play a vital
role in the future economic well being of Mauritius.
Mauritius occupies a strategic position in the Indian Ocean and has the potential to play an
important role in marine research in this region. The MOI aims to undertake quality scientific
research in collaboration with local and international institutions, to contribute to the regional and
global matrix of oceanographic science.
Like many other small island developing states, Mauritius faces the problem that land-based
development has the potential to adversely impact the marine coastal environment. A major
responsibility of the MOI will be to monitor the marine environment around Mauritius, Rodrigues
and the Outer Islands, and advise the Government on appropriate policies and strategies for the
intelligent management of the living and non-living resources under its jurisdiction.
An important task of MOI is to formulate a claim to the United Nations Commission on the Limits
of the Continental Shelf for an extension of the marine jurisdiction of the Republic of Mauritius.
The acquisition of bathymetry and geophysical data necessary to substantiate this claim has been
contracted following an international request for tender. The survey work has since been
The Mauritius Oceanography Institute Act (2000) defines the objectives and functions of the
 • To foster interest in research and development in relation to oceanography
 • To advise Government on the formulation and implementation of policies and programs in respect of
   oceanography and related aspects
 • To co-ordinate, collaborate and co-operate with other institutions, agencies and persons on national,
   regional and global issues within its fields of interest, and to assist any organisation, body or person in
   creating sustainable research and development programmes in those areas of interest and activity
   related to oceanography
 • To demonstrate and communicate to the scientific community and the public at large the results of
   research and the importance of oceanography in the conservation, maintenance, management,
   utilisation and development of resources based on marine and coastal ecosystems

 • To manage and optimise the use of funds and other resources for the purposes of this Act

 • To initiate, encourage, launch, facilitate, support, undertake, participate in, rationalise and co-ordinate
   research and development in relation to oceanography having regard to the national, regional and
   international interests of Mauritius, its needs and priorities
 • To arrange for carrying out of such research and development
 • To provide any other institution, body or person with facilities for carrying out such research and
 • To maximise opportunities and arrangements for such research and development on a collaborative
 • To encourage and facilitate the application and use of the results of such research and development

 • To prepare, fund, implement and periodically update and monitor programmes relating to the
   sustainable development of marine resources
 • To collect, co-ordinate, store and disseminate information relating to oceanography and to publish
   reports and other material relating to oceanography
 • To identify training needs in the field of oceanography
 • To make available to other institutions, bodies or persons on such terms and conditions as it thinks fit
   knowledge, expertise, equipment or facilities of the Institute
 • To do anything incidental or conducive to the performance of any of its functions under this section
Research Projects

Completed Projects
Continental Shelf Project
The MOI has been entrusted with the task of formulating the claim for the extended continental
shelf for Mauritius. This claim is likely to further extend the maritime jurisdiction of the Republic
of Mauritius, and must be submitted to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf
before 2009.
Project Contact: Dr M. BHIKAJEE

Geo-spatial Information system for Habitat Mapping of South Eastern coast of Mauritius
The geo-spatial information and mapping project initiated by MOI through the funding of the
Commision de L'Ocean Indien aims at the construction of a series of maps that will classify major
coastal habitats and eventually assess their relative ecological richness. The study involved both
actual field surveys together with state of the art remote sensing technique. An atlas-type document
has been published.
Project Contact: Mr Rezah BADAL

Study of Short Period Sea Level Oscillations
A study of short period sea level oscillations aims to increase the understanding of the physical
forcings in the coastal areas of Mauritius and Rodrigues. Pressure recorders, measuring sea level at
high frequencies, have been deployed at various locations around the lagoons and outer reef. The
result will help to address issues of coastal erosion, pollutant dispersal and navigation safety.

Inventory of the Coral Fauna of Mauritius
It is important to know the number of coral species as it may be used as a bioindicator to assess the
state of the ecosystems since anthropogenic activities may have profound effects on the abundance
and distribution of species. The latest study on the reefs of Mauritius details the presence of 139
species of scleractinian corals. The present study, undertaken in collaboration with AFRC/JICA,
has so far revealed the presence of 159 species. The search is ongoing for the rare and cryptic
Project Contact: Mrs Ruby MOOTHIEN PILLAY

Coral Recruitment
Coral recruitment has important consequences for coral population size and structure. Numerous
short and long-term studies have shown recruitment to vary both spatially and temporally by
several orders of magnitude. Present studies in collaboration with AFRC/JICA will examine the
spatial and temporal variation in coral recruits on settlement panels, which have been initially
deployed off Albion.
Project Contact: Mrs Ruby MOOTHIEN-PILLAY
Information regarding the medicinal properties or traditional uses of marine organisms hardly exists
in the world as well as in Mauritius. The validation of the known medicinal virtues of land-plants or
marine molluscs is a manner to start bioprospecting the sea. This research involves the
pharmacological testing of extracts for bioassays relevant to their medicinal properties and
ultimately purification and isolation of the bioactive compound(s).
Project Contact: Dr Daniel MARIE

Ongoing Projects
Database of marine organisms of the Mauritian maritime zone
The correct identification and naming of living organisms is the basis of research in the field of
diversity of living organisms and their management. This project aims at producing a database of
marine species in Mauritian waters, which will be linked to the existing databases on marine
organisms such as Marine Species Database for Eastern Africa (MASDEA) and Ocean
Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). The Mauritian marine species database will use the
World Wide Web for access and networking. The product will also be published in the form of a
CD-ROM and will be made available to a wide range of end-users. This database of marine
organisms will be a standard reference for research management and training in the field of marine
species diversity in Mauritian waters.
Project Contact: Dr Asha POONYTH

Modelling & mapping oceanic processes of South West Indian Ocean: a satellite-based
The ocean is a dynamic and fluctuating environment where numerous processes operate. Observing
this ocean variability by conventional means has proved to be difficult and costly. This project on
modelling and mapping the south-west Indian Ocean is effectively geared towards the study of the
oceanic processes in this part of the globe. The approach will mainly consist on measuring
oceanographic parameters via the medium of sensors mounted onboard satellite while its main
objective is the mapping and characterisation of oceanic processes, more precisely of biological
production and general circulation in the south-west of the Indian Ocean. The subsequent outputs
shall constitute a pioneering effort in the setting up of operational oceanography by bridging the
gap between research and operation.
Project Contact: Mr Rezah BADAL

Bioprospecting Mauritius waters
The MOI act and vision 2020 document of the Ministry of Economic development and Regional
Co-operation emphasise the need to exploit natural products derived from our unique flora and
fauna. In that respect and considering the fact that the use of Marine organisms towards the
unveiling of new drugs is gathering much importance today, the MOI is undertaking a project
entitled: "Biological activities of Marine Natural Substances from Mauritius Waters". This is a joint
collaborative project involving local as well as international institutions. The objective of the
project will be to assess the biological activities of the extract of certain classes of marine
organisms, which have already given new drugs, in use today on some chosen bioassays.
Project Contact: Dr Daniel MARIE
Study of the lagoon-beach interactions at specific sites around Mauritius for a better control
of coastal erosion
The main aim of the project is to characterise processes leading to coastal erosion at specific places
around Mauritius through a geomorphologic study of the beach in conjunction with hydrodynamics
and sediment dynamic study of the lagoon. The goals of this study shall be achieved through the
following specific objectives: review of previous scientific work carried out in the lagoons around
Mauritius; time series measurement of the dynamical regime of the region under study, including
bathymetry,currents,waves and tides; quantitative and qualitative analysis of bottom sediment,
suspended particulate matter and beach composition; time series measurement of beach profiles;
determination of the sediment budget for the reef-lagoon-beach system under study and
determination of the beach evolution; mapping of the beaches and lagoons using GIS; develop an
understanding of the hydrodynamic processes and circulation patterns; production of bathymetric
and morphological charts for the regions under study.
Project Contact: Mr Sharveen PERSAND

Evolutionary and population genetics of scleractinian corals
The main aims of this project are to examine molecular relationships across a wide range of
scleractinian corals and to investigate larval connectivity among reefs locally and regionally using
DNA based techniques. As a first phase of the project, we are examining the species boundaries
between the sympatric Pavona spp of Mauritius and Japan. In addition, we are comparing the
population structure of Pavona spp between the Indian Ocean (Mauritius, Thailand) and Western
Pacific .(Japan, Taiwan). This project is being undertaken in collaboration with Kitasato University,
Japan and Academia Sinica, Taiwan.
Project Contact: Mrs Ruby MOOTHIEN-PILLAY

Ballast Water
The objective of the project is to determine the risks caused by the discharge of ballast water in
Mauritius and propose mitigative measures accordingly.
Project Contact: Dr Asha POONYTH

Sensitisation Programme
Lagoon and Reef Watch Movement
Since February 2002, the Mauritius Oceanography Institute has taken the lead of the Lagoon and
Reef Watch Movement, which works towards the sensitisation of the Mauritian public on the
marine and coastal environment. The Lagoon and Reef Watch Movement is sponsored by the
National Environment Fund of the Ministry of Environment. It groups Governmental, private
bodies as well as NGOs.

Mitrasen BHIKAJEE, BSc (Hons.), MSc, PhD, [Marine Biology]
Before joining the MOI, Dr. Bhikajee was Associate Professor at the University of Mauritius where
he has been working for the past 14 years. He has also been a consultant to the Ministry of
Environment, the Commission de l'Océan Indien, UNEP, UNDP and to various firms. He is a
board member of the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association and the Editor of the
Mauritius Institute Bulletin. He joined the MOI in October 2003 as Adviser and was appointed
Director in April 2004.


Rezah BADAL, Grad. Stat., MSc [Applied Maths and Modeling] MSc [Oceanography]
Mr. Badal joined the public sector in 1988, and was working until 1999 as statistician at the Central
Statistical Office before embarking in his new career as Project Officer at the Mauritius
Oceanography Institute. For his MSc thesis, he undertook research studies on the Mascarene
Plateau through the application of satellite imagery. He is mostly involved in Ocean Remote
Sensing and Oceanographic Data Management.

Asha POONYTH, BSc (Hons.), MSc [Oceanography], PhD [Marine Biology]
Dr. Poonyth is interested in the study of invasive marine species by ballast water and attached to
ships hulls. She is currently leading a sensitisation programme on the protection of the lagoon and
reefs around Mauritius. Asha is also interested in the biology of deep-sea organisms.

Sharveen PERSAND, BSc (Hons.) [Physics], MSc [Physical Oceanography]
Mr. Persand joined the Mauritius Oceanography Institute in November 2000 as Project Officer. He
is an experienced PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor and his main area of interest is the physical
processes around coastal regions of Mauritius and the outer islands.

Daniel MARIE, BSc (Hons.), PhD [Chemistry]
Since the year 2000, Dr. Marie has been with the MOI as Project Officer and presently leading the
activities related to Marine Chemistry. He was awarded the Young Investigator award in 2001
during the 2nd International Meeting of the Society for Free Radical Research (SFRR). His interest
includes studying the medicinal properties of bioactive compounds from marine organisms and the
distribution of pollutants in the lagoon.

Ruby MOOTHIEN PILLAY, BSc, MSc [Marine Ecology and Fisheries Biology]
Ms. Kamla Ruby Moothien Pillay has worked at the Albion Fisheries Research Centre as a
Scientific Officer for 10 years prior to joining the Mauritius Oceanography Institute in October
2001. Her research interests are mainly in coral biology, coral reef ecology, and evolutionary and
population genetics. She has published several research papers and has co-authored a book on
'Biostatistics'. She is the main author of "The Field Guide to Corals of Mauritius". She is at present
working on a collaborative research project with Kitasato University, Japan on the phylogeny and
population genetics of scleractinian corals of Mauritius.
Eric MARTIAL, BTech. (Hons.) [Computer Science & Engineering], MSc [E-business]
Mr. Martial has been working in the private sector before joining the Mauritius Oceanography
Institute in February 2005 as Project Officer in IT. He has more than 8 years of experience in the
field of Information Technology.


Javed MOSAHEB, BSc [Marine Biology], BSc [Biochemistry with Molecular Biology]
Mr. Javed Mosaheb has worked as advisor at the Albion Fisheries Research Centre for 8 years
before joining the Mauritius Oceanography Institute in June 2005. His research interests are mainly
in the field of Environmental Impact Assessment, Coastal Erosion and Marine Ecology. He was the
focal point person for Mauritius for COI/EU for the Coral Reef Monitoring Regional Project and a
consultant for IFREMER. He is the main author of a book on "Biostatistics" and co-author of the
"Field Guide to Coastal Fishes of Mauritius" and published several research papers in various fields
of Marine Science.


Beenesh MOTAH, BSc (Hons.) [Physics with Environmental Science]
Mr. Motah was initially a trainee in the field of Satellite Oceanography at the Mauritius
Oceanography Institute. He has been recently appointed as Research Assistant in the same field of

Prakash MUSSAI, BSc [Zoology], MSc [Marine Biology & Oceanography]
After his studies, Mr. Mussai has undergone a one year training at Albion Fisheries Research
Center under the unemployed graduate scheme 2001/2002. He recently joined the Mauritius
Oceanography Institute in May 2004 as Research Assistant and is working on the project 'Database
of Marine Organisms'.

Mr. Samyan seconded for duty from the Ministry of Fisheries as diver to assist project officers in
their research projects.

The Mauritius Oceanography Institute brings up a new issue of its newsletter OceanQuest twice a
Contacts:     The Director,
              Mauritius Oceanography Institute
              France Centre, Victoria Avenue
              Quatre-Bornes, Mauritius
              Phone: (230) 427 4432
              Fax: (230) 427 4433
4.     Background information on the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association

WIOMSA is a regional professional, non-governmental, non-profit, membership organization,
registered in Zanzibar, Tanzania. The organization is dedicated to promoting the educational,
scientific and technological development of all aspects of marine sciences throughout the region of
Western Indian Ocean (Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, South Africa, Comoros,
Madagascar, Seychelles, Mauritius, Reunion (France)), with a view toward sustaining the use and
conservation of its marine resources. The Association has about 1000 individual members as well
as about 50 institutional members from within and outside the region.

The organisation's inter-disciplinary membership consists of marine scientists, coastal practitioners,
and institutions involved in the advancement of marine science research and development. The
Association: (1) provides a forum for communication and exchange of information amongst it
members that promotes and fosters inter-institutional linkages within and beyond the region; (2)
supports marine research by offering research grants; (3) implements programs to build the capacity
of marine scientists and coastal management practitioners; and (4) works to promote policy
dialogue on key topics by organizing meetings and seminars on the findings and policy
implications of science.
WIOMSA promotes marine science research through the award of research grants under the Marine
Science for Management (MASMA) and the Marine Research Grant (MARG) programmes.
MASMA is a competitive research grant scheme designed to support research activities in the
region as well as organisation of training courses/workshop. The grants, which range from US$
15,000 to US$ 50,000 per annum, are available to teams of scientists or individual researchers from
the region.
In addition to the on-going capacity building program in ICM and MPA, WIOMSA has
organized/hosted a number of regional workshops and meetings that provided the linkage between
science and management.
Recently, WIOMSA also signed Memorandum of Understanding with UNEP as the secretariat to
the Nairobi Convention, whereby WIOMSA will be responsible for providing research, technical,
managerial and advisory support to UNEP as requested.
WIOMSA in collaboration with UNEP is hosting a regional Group of Experts on Marine Protected
Areas for the Eastern African region (GEMPA). GEMPA has been established with the aim of
building a constituency for marine protected areas in the region and to provide a forum for linkages
and dialogue between MPA practitioners and experts, and between government and non-
government organizations.

WIOMSA Contact
The Executive Secretary
Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA)
Mizingani Street, House No. 13644/10
P. O. Box 3298, Zanzibar,
United Republic of Tanzania,
Tel: + 255 24 2233472/2234597
Fax: + 255 24 2233852
Board of Trustees
The board consists of one representative from the host country (Tanzania), four members from the
mainland states (Kenya, Mozambique, Somalia, South Africa) and two from the Island stated
(Comores, Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion, Seychelles).

President                                        Treasurer
Dr Nyawira Muthiga                               Prof Ron Johnstone
Wildlife Conservation Society                    University of Queensland
Kibaki Flats No. 12                              Centre for Marine Studies
Bamburi, Kenyatta Beach                          Brisbane QLD 4072, AUSTRALIA
P. O. Box 99470                                  Tel: ++617 33 65 97 58
Mombasa, KENYA 80107                             Fax: ++61 7 33 65 47 55
Tel: ++254 734 77 42 25                          E-mail:

Member of the board                              Member of the board
Prof Chantal Conand                              Dr Mitrasen Bhikajee
Universite de la Reunion                         Mauritius Oceanography Institute
Laboratoire Ecologie Marine                      4th Floor, France Centre
97715 Saint Denis 9 FRANCE                Victoria Avenue,
La Reunion                                       Quatre Bornes
Tel: ++ 262 93 81 78                             MAURITIUS
Fax: ++ 262 93 86 85                             Tel: ++ 230 4274432
E-mail:    Fax: ++ 230 4274433

Member of the board                              Member of the board
Dr Narriman Jiddawi                              Dr Johnson Kazungu
Institute of Marine Sciences                     Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute
P.O.Box 668                                      P.O. Box 81651
Zanzibar, TANZANIA                               Mombasa, KENYA
Tel: ++ 255 24 2232128                           Tel: ++254 41 475152/3/4/7
Fax: ++ 255 24 2233050                           Fax: ++254 41 475157
E-mail:                  E-mail:

Co-opted Members                                 Co-opted Members
Dr Magnus Ngoile                                 Prof Mats Bjork
National Environment Management Council          Botany Department
P. O. Box 63154                                  Stockholm University
Dar es Salaam, TANZANIA                          10691 Stockholm
Tel: ++255 22 2134603                            SWEDEN
E-mail:                        Tel: ++ 46 18 182822
                                                 Fax: ++ 46 18 55 98 85

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