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  • Official Handover of Research Vessel MV Zeeleeuw in Oostende 16/05/2013

    The Embassy of the Republic of Kenya in Brussels witnessed the official handover of research vessel MV Zeeleeuw from the Flemish Government to the Government of the Republic of Kenya on 3 May 2013 in Oostende, Belgium. This marks an important milestone in Kenya-Belgium relations in the field of aquatic sciences.

    In accordance with the UN Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Kenya’s oceanward boundary extends to the 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone limit. A further 150 nautical mile limit has since been applied for the exploitation of bottom ocean bed resources, giving Kenya a total ocean area up to 350 nautical miles, corresponding to a total land area of 582,650 km², with a coastal land area of about 32,447 km² . This vast ocean area coverage makes Kenya a significant maritime country.

    It is to this end that a need was identified, to which the Belgian government offered to donate the MV Zeeleeuw, a deep sea research vessel. The MV Zeeleeuw was built in 1977 and was converted to a research vessel in 2000. It has served Belgian marine scientists for up to 12 years and will surely be useful for research in Kenya.

    The journey begun on 19 October 2012, when the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute (KMFRI) and the Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) of Belgium signed a new Memorandum of Understanding, targeting new priority areas. The agreed areas of bilateral collaboration included:

    • Research projects between (1) KMFRI and its marine and coastal science network in Kenya, and (2) VLIZ and its marine and coastal science network in Flanders, Belgium.
    • Undertaking joint field work, research expeditions, experiments, monitoring and observation programmes.
    • Exchange of expertise and exchange of (1) faculty, research and academic staff, (2) technical experts (ICT specialists, data and information managers, marine technicians, nautical experts, communication specialists, etc.) and (3) students.
    • Capacity building for research, technology development (includes research vessels and navigational and sampling equipment), data management and education.
    • Exchange of data and information.
    • Jointly producing derived products from research, data and information (e.g. joint scientific publications, communication and outreach products like websites, books, posters, multimedia etc.).
    • VLIZ and FLEET (Belgian Maritime Division) to provide training for nautical and technical crew and scientific staff on board of research vessel Simon Stevin.
    • VLIZ to install the MIDAS (Marine Information Data Acquisition System) database on KMFRI research vessel and in the institute for cruise planning registration, data acquisition and analysis and training.
    • Explore opportunities for international networking.

    Kenya and Belgium have collaborated in research since the year 1982 through established institutions. KMFRI and the University of Nairobi (UoN) signed a  Memorandum of Understanding with Belgian institutions, which include the Free University of Brussels (VUB), University of Ghent and the Catholic University of Leuven, on different research and developmental collaborative activities.