The Regional Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Underwater Cultural heritage for Sustainable Tourism Development in Eastern Africa and the adjacent Indian Ocean Islands took place in Malindi, Kenya from 11th -12th March 2019. 70 delegates from UNESCO and Eastern African countries (Comores, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania) comprising of Ministers, representatives of Ministers, Officials from Ministries of Culture and UNESCO National Commissions, Museum Directors and underwater archeologists, cultural heritage professionals and universities of UNESCO UNITWIN Underwater Archeology Network attended this conference.
Seychelles was represented by Mr Gabriel Essack, Technical Advisor from the Department of Culture, representing the Designated Minister and Minister for Culture, Mrs Beryl Ondiek, Director for Museum and Mrs Vicky Gendron, the Assistant Secretary General from the Seychelles National Commission for UNESCO.
The Ministerial Conference took place on the 11th March 2019 and was attended by two Ministers and representatives of Ministers. After the presentations and roundtable discussions on the 2001 Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage, the Malindi Ministerial Statement was adopted. The statement basically states that member states will do the necessary to ratify the 2001 Convention, ensure that mechanisms are put in place for its implementation, establish links with all stakeholders at national level and seek partners that can fund the protection of underwater cultural heritage. A technical meeting took place on the 12th March 2019 to build the capacities and raise awareness of technicians on the importance of signing the 2001 Convention. On the 13th March 2019 there was a Technical workshop for Museums in Eastern Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands during which Mrs Beryl Ondiek, Director of Museums made a presentation on her outreach programme with schools.
The four (4) main principles of the 2001 Convention include Firstly the Obligation of member states to preserve underwater cultural heritage according to their capabilities. Secondly the need to ensure in situ preservation of underwater cultural heritage ie in its original location on the seafloor. Thirdly, to prevent the commercial exploitation of underwater cultural heritage. Fourthly to ensure training and information sharing in underwater archeology, while highlighting the importance of scientific research and the potential for sustainable tourism development.