Department of Environmental Affairs in partnership with the South African Embassy host SA Agulhas II Open Day in Comoros

02 July 2018


The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in partnership with the South African Embassy in Comoros, hosted an open day aboard its research and polar vessel the SA Agulhas II, on the 2 July 2018 in Comoros.

The Open Day gave dignitaries, school learners and teachers from Ngazidja, students from University of the Comoros and Research Institute, and members of the media an opportunity to explore the ship and the Department’s work in the ocean and coastal environment.

Visitors enjoyed guided tours of the vessel, from its state of the art science laboratories to the lounge area which is dedicated to the late South African music icon Miriam Makeba. The vessel was dedicated to the icon in recognition of her role in the struggle towards South Africa’s democracy.

During his keynote address Ambassador of the Comoros, His Excellency Mbulelo Bungane, took the opportunity to highlight the centenary celebrations for former president Nelson Mandela and struggle heroin Albertina Sisulu. “2018 is an important year for South Africa. We are celebrating the centenary of two of our leaders, President Nelson Mandela and Mama Albertina Sisulu, however, the focus this month is on President Mandela, as you may know his birthday is 18 July. In collaboration with our colleagues from the Department of Environmental Affairs, we decided to use the occasion of the presence in the Comoros of this magnificent vessel, the SA Agulhas II, to kick-start our celebrations of President Mandela’s Centenary,” he said.

Guests also had an opportunity to engage and learn about South Africa’s second training and capacity building voyage for the Second International Indian Ocean Expedition II (IIOE2). The IIOE2 is a multi-national programme of the United Nations Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) which emphasises the need to research the Indian Ocean and its influence on the climate and its marine ecosystem. The IOC recognised that there was a persistent lack of basic long-term environmental information in the Indian Ocean, particularly for developing countries surrounding the Indian Ocean. On-board were DEA research staff and trainee-participants from Tanzania, Comoros, Kenya, Madagascar, Congo, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

“The exposure that the scientists of the Comoros have had in the past few days on this vessel as well as the visit by the young students, is a way by South Africa to say to the people of Comoros especially its children that we care about your future and the development of your country. Let us use education as a tool as described by Nelson Mandela,” said Ambassador Bungane.

The gathering of basic long-term environmental data and information on this cruise will place developing countries of the Indian Ocean, in a better position to conserve the integrity of its ocean, find ways to unlock their respective potential Ocean Economies to improve the lives of their citizens; and to better detect and adapt to ocean related threats to coastal communities and infrastructure.

“The Comoros has immense wealth potential in its ocean which can only be accessed through science and technology. Today South Africa is inviting the Comoros through its scientists and the schools for a partnership that will be mutually beneficial to our countries and peoples. Let the scientific work and demonstrations that have started on this vessel be a foundation for future cooperation in the areas of marine science, biodiversity, and conversation of the ocean environment. Indeed in the whole Ocean Economy sector, and turn this potential into an engine for growth and development,” added Ambassador Bungane.

The IIOE2 voyage aboard the SA Agulhas II commenced on 10 June 2018 and will be concluded on 13 July 2018. A total of 46 stations will be completed at the end of the research cruise, having covered Tanzanian and Comoros waters.

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