Dhaka is set to hold the ‘3rd IORA Ministerial Conference on Blue Economy’ on Thursday to promote smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and employment opportunities in the blue economy activities along the Indian Ocean belt.

Ministers and state ministers of more than 10 IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association) member states have confirmed their participation at the ministerial level meeting.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina is likely to inaugurate the conference at Hotel InterContinental Dhaka on Thursday morning, foreign ministry official sources said.

Australia, Iran, Sri Lanka, Seychelles, and Comoros foreign ministers, Kenyan minister for agriculture and fisheries, Mauritius minister for ocean economy, Madagascar minister for agriculture and livestock, Maldives minister for marine resources, Somalian state minister for foreign affairs, Thai deputy minister for foreign affairs South African deputy minister for environment and forest will attend the conference with other foreign dignitaries.

The inter-governmental organisation IORA was established in 1997 with 21 countries bordering the Indian Ocean – Australia, Bangladesh, Comoros, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kenya, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Singapore, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

Japan, Germany, China, the UK, the US, France, and Egypt are the dialogue partners of IORA.

The ministerial conference will adopt the Dhaka Declaration and other outcome documents aimed to illustrate the commitment of IORA Member States to further strengthen and deepen cooperation on Blue Economy priority areas in the years ahead, according the IORA official website.

It aims at mapping the works that already have been done and also further works that need to be undertaken to secure inclusive and balanced promotion, protection and conservation of the marine resources in the Indian Ocean, it added.

“This is the time to further nurture various areas of blue economy such as aquaculture, marine tourism, private sector’s involvement in infrastructure, port network, financial inclusion, the sustainable exploration and exploitation of various living and non-living resources from the seas and tackling the menace of marine pollution and plastic debris,” IORA note said.

Prior to the conference, a working session will be held on Wednesday to discuss the means and ways to strengthen blue economy implementation.

The working session will include several discussion sessions including like ‘sustainable fisheries and aquaculture’, ‘harvesting sustainably blue opportunities and ocean governance’, ‘exploiting untapped potential resources of blue economy in the Indian Ocean Rim’, ‘connecting to the gateway of blue economy’ and ‘turning to the ocean for value’.