THE ROAD AHEAD 3
MANAGING OUR MARITIME RESOURCES
When Navin Ramgoolam and his team successfully negotiated and transformed a small land republic of roughly 2,200 km2 into a vast 2,300,000 km2 maritime republic only ignoramuses could say, “Ki pou fer ar sa? Ramas gomon?” Let’s leave them alone wallowing in their heap of devil’s dung and think of the future of our kids (children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren).
Blinkered idiots are instinctively thinking of harvesting the sea and reaping material wealth forgetting that in the third millennium we have to be not only seafarers or sea-farmers but also SEA-CARERS, the stewards of the ocean, for the sea is not only the cradle of life but also the regulator of Earth’s temperature and climate. It is not to be treated as humanity’s dumping ground or Mammon’s gold mine.
Besides careful use of sea resources, we must develop a new way of life, a new culture based on our dependence on the sea for our survival. In short, we must move from a land-based to a sea-based culture.
FANTASY? OR REALITY AND NECESSITY?
According to experts, between now and 2050, there will be a heavy rise in sea level as a result of global warming and several Indian Ocean islands will simply disappear while the rest will experience an important reduction in land area and a completely transformed coastline. Accordingly, we must start thinking of new development plans, of forging a maritime culture, of a new way forward. What does this mean in concrete terms?
1. Swimming must become as natural as walking and running. Do we know that almost 50% of the population cannot swim? And worse, a high percentage of fishers constantly run the risk of drowning. Would you believe it? And yet, the sea is a vital element of their environment!
2. Knowledge of the sea must enter the classroom. Marine biology and maritime engineering should have an important place in the curriculum.
3. All around Mauritius and Rodrigues, we must build small harbours for fishing and ferry vessels powered by photovoltaic panels functioning as ‘sails’ while generating electricity. Inland travel and transport will have to rely on public vehicles powered by photovoltaic panels. All duty-freewalas must by now hate my guts and start nitpicking.
4. Land, sacred land, must be used to grow food and build shelters for one and all. It must not be commodified to Alvaronise our ‘Mother’ and allow our ‘NATIONAL DHOBI’ launder international drug, arms, racket and prostitution black money.
5. Mauritius and Rodrigues must become city-states made up of several self-sufficient municipalities, democratically-run and which offer administrative, agricultural, industrial, social and cultural activities and amenities so that within one municipality muscle energy may be used to travel. Pedale Babou, pedale!
SHORT-TERM PROFIT AND LONG-TERM BENEFITS
Short-term profit motive of heartless, selfish, Trumplike cupidity has no place in our world. We must think creatively of ways and means to build a civilization based NOT on having BUT on being; NOT on ‘Me, My, Mine’ BUT on love, care and sharing. We have no choice. If we do not change, it will be the end of everything. Let us start NOW.