Women in Ghana lay out the  catch for drying and preserving. | Photo: Anna-Katharina Hornidge, ZMT

09.01.2019 | The German and South African centres of the International Ocean Institute (IOI) have launched the cooperation project WIOGEN (West Indian Ocean Governance and Exchange Network) to strengthen the exchange and networking between marine practitioners in Germany and Africa.

The initiator of the project from the German side is the social scientist Professor Anna-Katharina Hornidge from the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) in Bremen. Since January 2019 she has headed the IOI-Germany, which is located at the ZMT. The IOI, headquartered in Malta, is active in training and consulting on issues relating to the sustainable use of our seas. In the first years of its existence, it played a major role in the revision of international maritime law, which became effective in 1994.

The new international maritime law grants coastal countries a 200-nautical-mile zone of influence in which they can use marine resources. However, the countries are also responsible for conserving the resources of their coastal areas. Overfishing, destruction of coastal ecosystems, marine pollution and the consequences of climate change are challenges that coastal countries must face.

The WIOGEN project aims to launch a dialogue with partners from a number of East African countries on the sustainable management of marine resources in the region. Future decision-makers from science, politics and society will jointly develop concepts in the areas of food security, sustainable fisheries, aquaculture and alternative livelihoods, environmental pollution, biodiversity conservation and coastal zone management.

"The sustainable use of the sea and its resources requires creating a dialogue to develop approaches that are both scientifically informed as well as socially and politically desired. The aim of WIOGEN is to initiate this process and to further develop competencies for sustainable coastal and marine management on an individual, organisational and social level," said Hornidge.

WIOGEN is being funded for two years as part of the MeerWissen initiative of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). The initiative aims to improve the conditions for knowledge-based policy-making for the protection and sustainable use of the seas in selected African countries.

About the International Ocean Institute (IOI)

The IOI was founded in 1972 by Thomas Mann's youngest daughter, Elisabeth Mann Borgese. Her call "We must save the oceans if we want to save ourselves" is as relevant today as it was in her lifetime. The IOI is an independent, non-profit organisation with headquarters in Malta and more than 20 national IOI centres worldwide. Its aim is to promote sustainable development, management and protection of the oceans. In 2002, the IOI-Germany was founded at the ZMT; where the fisheries biologist Dr Werner Ekau headed the German centre until the end of 2018.