Port Louis: Mauritius is hosting the third Ministerial Conference on Maritime Security and Safety in the Western Indian Ocean on Thursday at the Intercontinental Hotel in Balaclava.

The Prime Minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth, will preside over the official launch of the Ministerial Conference, underscoring the country's commitment to fostering cooperation and collaboration in the vital domain of maritime security and safety, according to the digital English News Channel of Mauritius, Le Matinal.

Prior to the ministerial conference, senior officials and representatives from the participating nations gathered today.

In 2018 and 2019, Mauritius also played host to the Ministerial Conference on Maritime and Safety in the Western Indian Ocean.

Notably, the discussions of the two-day Senior Officials Meeting officially began this morning in Balaclava with a speech by Secretary of Foreign Affairs Ambassador Joykar Nayeck. The Indian Ocean is a major shipping route and is of significant importance for world trade.

"Since our last meeting in 2019, there has been notable progress on ocean governance, namely the adoption of the BBJN (Biological Diversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction) Treaty. However, we are still confronted with numerous challenges, such as illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU), drugs, arms and human trafficking, amongst others," Nayeck said, according to Le Matinal.

In the continuous efforts to establish a safer and more secure marine environment, the Third Ministerial Conference on Marine Security and Safety in the Western Indian Ocean is expected to be a momentous occasion.Government leaders as well as representatives from regional and international institutions are present at the ministerial conference, accompanied by senior officials responsible for marine security from each organisation.

IUU fishing; maritime accidents, including collisions and groundings of vessels that can result in oil spills and other environmental disasters; marine pollution, including plastic pollution; search and rescue operations at sea and disaster response; port security and safety of navigation; and other issues related to transnational organised crime will all be covered at the Ministerial Conference.

According to Le Matinal, the Ministerial Conference aims to mobilise, maintain and strengthen both regional and international efforts to improve the appropriation of outcome-oriented and cost-effective solutions.

The senior officials have gathered to deliberate and make recommendations to ministers on the vital issues of maritime security and safety and ocean governance.