- As fisheries in the Indian Ocean region have become more commercial and include outside actors, the business is to be better monitored, using up to date satellite technology. The capital of Comoros, Moroni, won the regional bid to host a new regional installation of a Centre for Fishing Surveillance.
The Indian Ocean Commission (Commission de l'Océan Indien) last week announced that it had entrusted the French company Collecte Localisation Satellites (CLS) with the installation of its new Centre for Fishing Surveillance on Moroni, Comoros.
According to CLS, this new centre will allow the government of Comoros to monitor foreign fishing boats in waters reserved exclusively for the Comoros, as well as domestic boats fishing in the waters off of Mozambique.
According to the Commission, the objective of the contract with CLS is to set up the Moroni surveillance centre, set up technological equipment and make it functional, the training of local staff, and being available for maintenance and troubleshooting after Comoran staff take over.
The choice of Moroni as the location for the surveillance centre was mostly political, as the Commission already has its headquarters in Mauritius and some other operations based in Réunion. Comoros, the poorest and least technologically advanced member country, so far had not achieved any major investments.
But the main island of Grand Comore - where Moroni is located - already has some relevant technological installations. These include a centre of volcanology and a Chinese-build satellite transmission station - both are however mostly operated by foreign staff.
Granting CLS the order to build the centre, the Commission chose one of the world leaders in the sector. CLS already monitors the oceans through its satellites and thousands of buoys - especially ARGOS buoys - around the globe. CLS is a subsidiary of CNES and IFREMER, the French state-controlled Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea.
The Indian Ocean Commission, made up of Mauritius, the Seychelles, Comoros, Madagascar and France - through the French islands of Réunion and Mayotte - was created to ensure the protection of fishing resources in the ocean, which have become over-exploited.
The European Union (EU) has been the driving force in setting up the Indian Ocean Commission to allow for an expansion of EU fishing in these waters. The EU during the last years has signed wide-ranging fisheries agreements with most nations of the Commission, designed to satisfy Europe's ever-growing taste for fish and shellfish while closer waters are being depleted.
With the establishment of the regional Commission, the EU was able to meet its own, rather weak, provisions of sustainable fisheries. Also the satellite monitoring programme, hosted in Comoros, is mostly financed by the EU as part of its sustainability and technology transfer programmes. The 2005 EU-Comoros five-year Fisheries Agreement included a provision of satellite monitoring, party financed by the EU.
Also IFREMER has been deeply involved in this development right from the start. The French company conducted the feasibility studies of expanding the EU's tuna fisheries to this part of the Indian Ocean in the early 1990s, and was since used to draft the establishment of the Indian Ocean Commission.
It therefore came as no surprise that the Commission awarded the Moroni tender to a IFREMER subsidiary. The 63-page tender document included technical specifications that few other companies could have complied with.
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