Maritime Southeast Asia and South Asia: Mapping Opportunities and Challenges

Photo: Valerian Timoothy

On November 28th to December 1st 2016 INADIS in collaboration with the United Nations Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, the Nippon Foundation of Japan and the Indonesian Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs organized a meeting on “Maritime Southeast Asia and South Asia: Mapping Opportunities and Challenges” in Nusa Dua, Bali. Over 30 maritime experts from Southeast Asia, South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa and Europe attended the meeting.

Ambassador Arif Havas Oegroseno, Deputy Minister of the Indonesian Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs opened the meeting. Ambassador Arif Havas Oegroseno elaborated a range of maritime issues facing Indonesia and many other countries in the world including illegal fishing, maritime-labor slavery, climate change, and maritime boundary disputes. He emphasized that the ocean is not getting enough attention and highlighted the urgent need for cooperation to address various maritime problems in a peaceful manner.

Ms. Gabriele Goettsche-Wanli, Director, United Nations, DOALOS, delivered a keynote speech at the meeting. She began her keynote speech by highlighting the importance of the ocean for national economic and social development, international trade and communication.  She drew our attention to the problem of environmental protection. As states are increasingly looking to the oceans to support economic development marine ecosystems are adversely impacted by pollution, unsustainable exploitation of resources, introduction of invasive alien species, climate change and the effects of ocean acidification. She concluded that urgent action is required to address pressures on our oceans.  Ms. Goettsche-Wanli emphasized that since marine pollution, impacts of climate change and living marine resources are trans-boundary in nature it is very important for States to enhance their cooperation at regional and global levels.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is the key foundation for international cooperation. The UNCLOS provides legal clarity regarding the limits of sovereignty and jurisdiction of coastal states that is crucial not only for peace and security but also for development of blue economies – securing investment opportunities. The UNCLOS’ provisions are recognized as customary international law and have served as the basis for regional legal instruments. The UNCLOS not only promotes regional and global cooperation but also maintains peace. The Convention dispute settlement mechanism supports the maintenance of peace and security, and sustainable development when disputes arise. Despite the development of a robust legal regime States effective implementation continues to be a major problem due to insufficient capacity. This includes insufficient human, financial, institutional and scientific capacity.

Despite these challenges there are opportunities to improve international cooperation, including through public/private partnerships. Ms. Goettsche-Wanli explained these opportunities including the inclusion of the ocean sustainable development goal in the General Assembly’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015. Further, the Assembly decided to convene a high-level United Nations Development Goal 14 in June 2017, coinciding with World Oceans Day. The First Global Integrated Marine Assessment and future assessments under the Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, can contribute to provide “the best available science” that should inform policy decisions. Ms. Goettsche-Wanli pointed out to participants that when discussing maritime opportunities and challenges in Southeast Asia and South Asia there are opportunities and tools developed at the international level that can support their objectives

During the meeting a range of maritime issues had been discussed. These included boundaries dispute; maritime security; marine environment; and ocean governance. Participants identified potential areas for cooperation and challenges, and set up plan for future actions. As an integral part of the meeting site-visit was organized to a mangrove conservation site in Kampoeng Kepiting (Crab Village), and the Turtle Conservation and Education Centre in Serangan Island. Kampoeng Kepiting is an example of successful community led mangrove conservation area. In 2009 Mr. Sumasa gathered fishermen in his village to establish the Wanasari Fishermen Group. Currently, this group consists of 93 fishermen.  Since 2009 the group of fishermen together with their family members – 545 people in total – has carried out sustainable efforts to re-store mangrove forest covering over 1,300 hectares. The fishermen group has also used a small part of the mangrove conservation area for crab cultivation, and restaurant as well as bird-watching site to improve the livelihood of the local fishermen.

Visit to the Turtle Conservation and Education Centre in Serangan Island has provided valuable learning experience on marine conservation in Bali. At the center, Mr. Wayan Eka and his colleagues explained their efforts to eradicate turtle trading in Bali. The center works 24/7 to rescue turtles from Bali and different part of Indonesia that are being traded in the island. The Turtle Conservation and Education Centre in Serangan has also carried out relentless efforts to rescue turtles that have been injured as a consequence of human activities.