Nelson Mandela University: Mandela University’s FishFORCE signs MOU with Open University of Mauritius

Nelson Mandela University and the Open University of Mauritius signed a Memorandum of Understanding to collaborate on establishing a Fisheries Law Enforcement Academy as part of FishFORCE’s expansion to cover much of the Western Indian Ocean.
Currently, there are FishFORCE academies in Namibia, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Kenya with Mauritius now being added to the list.

The high-level stakeholders’ meeting took place in Pointe aux Piments with Mandela University’s Professor Hennie van As, Director of the Centre for Law in Action and the FishFORCE Academy and the Open University of Mauritius’ Director General, Dr Kaviraj Sharma Sukon.

“We hosted the SADC Fisheries Task Team in Gqeberha in March 2020 where discussions with a member of the Indian Ocean Commission, based in Mauritius took place. It was then decided to link up with the Open University of Mauritius.

“They were immediately very responsive, but the pandemic slowed us down. We were also in the process of establishing academies in Namibia and Tanzania at the time.

The FishFORCE Academy to be established in Mauritius will duplicate the model that we started at Mandela University, says Prof Van As.

The Open University of Mauritius also has a marine focus and as such, they work closely with their ministries and government departments. Through them, Nelson Mandela University now has access to their Department of the Blue Economy and the agencies protecting marine life. Some senior Mauritian government officials also attended the event.

As a result, Mandela University’s FishFORCE can offer its developed training to the Mauritian Agencies. The Open University of Mauritius will adapt the material for local conditions and ensure that it is in line with their legislation. The universities will also share research results and hope to increase the number of joint postgraduate students.

The meeting was also attended by the University of Namibia, the University of Nairobi, the Eduardo Mondlane University in Mozambique, and the University of Dar es Salaam where FishFORCE Academies have already been established. These representatives shared their experiences and enabled Mauritian representatives to draw on their experience in law enforcement in fisheries.

In addition, Prof Van As had discussions with the Indian Ocean Commission, which needs training for its nine member countries. This would extend FishFORCE’s reach from Namibia around southern Africa and right up to Somalia.

FishFORCE has been recognised by the SADC Regional Task Team for Fisheries as a Centre of Excellence that would be the primary training provider at the soon-to-be established Monitoring, Control and Surveillance Centre in Mozambique. The Indian Ocean Commission has also requested FishFORCE to develop a training programme for fisheries observers, which will be a first. Prof Van As is collaborating with the CEO of the Namibian Observer Agency on this matter.

Mandela University established the Fisheries Crime Law Enforcement Academy (FishFORCE) in 2016 to build law enforcement expertise, reinforce cooperation between agencies, domestically and across the border and enhance law enforcement to fight against fisheries crime.