In the absence or by the denial of master plans and framework law, the coastline and beaches are subject to disrespectful exploitation, even over-exploitation insofar as they form the main resource of Mauritius on several levels.
For its 1,300,000 inhabitants over 1,865 km², the coastline represents:
– a food resource through fishing,
– the main leisure areas,
– a cultural identity,
– the main resource of the tourism industry.
The Mauritian lagoon generates income for hundreds of families living directly or indirectly from artisanal fishing. With acidification, direct pollution by effluents, warming of the sea, traffic in pleasure boats and overfishing among others, the quality of the lagoons is very degraded, leading to the bleaching and asphyxiation of coral species and consequently of the whole of the fauna as of the marine flora.
Friendly leisure spaces
Mauritius has relatively very few natural leisure spaces accessible to the general public. With only two official national parks totalling 7,000 hectares, to which are added the mountain ridges often difficult to access and the narrow river reserves, this problem is however found at the coast and especially public beaches. For good reason, the 322 linear Kms of the Mauritian coast are distributed as follows:
– 90 Kms are occupied by hotels or developments with tourist vocation,
– 60 Kms occupied by residences or, failing that, are privatized.
– Only 48 km, or around 14% of the total, are officially accessible to the public under the status of “public beaches”, in which the “beach” aspect has yet to be demonstrated.
Mauritius also has 49 islets of which 11 are privatized, 7 are nature reserves and 8 are national parks.
It should be noted that the vast majority of coastal properties are state land leased under the categorization of “Pas Geometriques”.
The sea and its limit is the cultural element shared by all Mauritians by the fact that apart from those who settled there in the era of aviation, the ancestors of all Mauritians had to, willingly or by force, cross the dreaded ocean space. In addition, when abolished, the ex-slaves settled on the coast, which became for them and their descendants a symbol of freedom if only by a quasi-food autonomy. They were followed by the colonists to whom the rulers offered concessions (in the form of leases) in order to introduce an embryo of socio-economic chain. Nowadays, the beach is the main free leisure element for a growing population.
This is today the main and quantifiable importance and value of the Mauritian coast. With a promotional speech almost exclusively focused on “Sea Sand & Sun”, Mauritius plays its full game on the beauty of its coastal landscapes. The numbers speak for themselves.
– 1,400,000 annual arrivals (around 2018 – 2019).
– 1,550,000,000 € of income
– 6 % of GDP
– 114 hotels, 95 of which are directly on the seafront. An additional ten are planned or under construction.
– Add to this private villas and bungalows to the tune of a thousand (approximately) as well as an increasing amount of 2 to 3-storey apartment complexes for rental.