The existing architecture to ensure sustainable development in the high seas in the Indian Ocean exhibits numerous shortcomings. This policy brief addresses the most pressing gaps and proposes a set of policy recommendations, including specific first steps that ought to be taken in the near future.

These policy recommendations include Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as part of spatial management of fisheries, the possibilities of creating new or expanding existing governance instruments, and enhancing enforcement measures that are required to make a multilateral, comprehensive governance instrument for the Indian Ocean effective.

The policy brief argues that more advanced forms of governance of regional seas need to be established that will support better cooperation and communication between governments and wider stakeholder communities. Furthermore, sustainable development in the Indian Ocean requires a well-functioning framework that is geographically inclusive and covers a wide range of species.

Developing countries should be given assistance in this process and the private sector, the scientific community as well as local communities should be fully involved. Monitoring, control, and surveillance of any areas covered in existing and future treaties (including MPAs) will also depend on countries and the private sector working together.

Uniform standards for fisheries are dependent on effective data collection and reporting, requiring a commitment from all parties involved to gather and share this information. Together, these recommendations aim to create an inclusive and cooperative governance structure for the Indian Ocean in the service of blue growth.

This policy brief draws on The Hague Institute’s work on the Global Governance Reform Initiative (GGRI) project, which is a collaborative effort between The Hague Institute, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, and the Observer Research Foundation (New Delhi).