Support for Regional Oceans Training Programme
Oceans cover nearly three-quarters of the earth's surface and supply humanity with protein, fibre, metals, minerals, and energy. The importance of the seas is growing. Total fish catch worldwide continues to grow. Offshore drilling provides more than 20 percent of all petrochemicals and natural gas, a proportion that is increasing. Some 15 million of 230 million square kilometres of total ocean area can be tapped for oil and natural gas. International shipping is also expanding rapidly. World merchant fleet tonnage grew from nearly 80 million tons in 1948 to 425 million tons in 1992. This intensive use and the resulting pollution are threatening fragile marine and coastal environments and contributing to global warming, stratospheric ozone layer depletion, and loss of biological diversity. The United Nations Law of the Sea convention, established in 1982, brought nearly a third of the world's oceans under national jurisdiction and created exclusive economic zones and, in some cases, widened them over adjacent continental shelves. Several coastal states - many are developing countries - have acquired access to resources of significant economic value from seabed minerals, petrochemical deposits, and fishing grounds within their exclusive economic zones. The challenge for many developing countries lies in devising integrated management skills and technologies to exploit these marine resources, while protecting the ocean environment for the benefit of future generations. This project reinforced the capacity of developing countries to manage their ocean resources by assisting the International Ocean Institute (IOI) in setting up four new operating centres in developing countries. The centres - in Colombia, India, Fiji, and Senegal - will develop curricula and train scientists and officials from their respective regions. IOI covered institutional expenses and used the GEF grant to enable these centres to meet the needs of policymakers, institutions, and nongovernmental organizations in each region. More specifically, the project worked to (a) define specific plans for each centre and an initial working agreement, (b) improve IOI's management infrastructure to support the new operational centres, and (c) strengthen the network of IOI alumni to facilitate "marketing" of training programs in the new centres and dissemination of IOI's international research. Activities: Creation of an institutional structure for training and research. This component involved establishing self-sustaining operational centres in Colombia, Fiji, India, and Senegal and reinforcing links - through, for example, distance learning and library hook-ups - with academic institutions and others in the IOI network associated with marine affairs. Improving existing and creating new IOI training programs. This component (a) involved revising current and developing new courses and (b) pursued research that was policy-oriented, related to marine affairs, and was interdisciplinary and nonproprietary in nature. Each research program was germane to a particular centre. The new centres focused attention on local and regional issues through research programs and trained personnel to manage their national exclusive economic zones. Establishing the centres allowed IOI to double its annual number of trainees and to improve and expand its transnational training programs. These operational centres have proved both useful and desirable. They have encouraged local participation and ensured continuity. Benefits: The project has built international expertise, particularly in developing countries, to manage and protect ocean ecosystems and marine resources.