Most member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) are maritime states bordering the Atlantic coast of North-West Africa, the Southern and Eastern coasts of the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, North Arabian Sea including the Gulf and parts of South East Asia seas.
Under the United Nations convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) of 1982, the marine jurisdiction of these nations have been extended to about 10 Million square kilometres Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) over which these countries have sovereign rights on its resources. Most of these oceanic areas represent some of the most productive regions of the word oceans, with rich fisheries, and mineral, oil and gas resources.
Sustainable economic exploitation of ocean space and its resources is beset with numerous scientific and technological problems in most of these countries that necessitate adequate training of indigenous manpower and acquisition of relevant maritime technologies. It is therefore imperative on member countries to face these challenges by strengthening their institutional mechanisms and broadening collaborative and networking efforts. A sustained effort of this magnitude is only possible if there is a clear appreciation of the historical perspective, the positive perception of contemporary issues and a vision of the desired future.
Pooling of resources and the evolution of common strategy can be greatly facilitated if adequate mechanisms for technology transfer and exchange of information are put in place in the OIC member countries. The Inter-Islamic Network on Oceanography will hopefully be able to provide the necessary forum and the mechanisms in order to translate the “Science” into tangible benefits and products for national and regional development.