Countries from the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) have agreed to a stronger collaborative effort on maritime security, economic growth and sustainable development across the region at the IORA's meeting in Perth, Western Australia, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop confirmed in a statement on Monday.
Australia assumes the role of the annual Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) meeting's chair for a two-year term, taking over from India during the meetings from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1, 2013.
Bishop has highlighted the increasing importance of the Indian Ocean region as Australia assumes the chair for the first time.
According to the statement, the meeting adopted the "Perth Principles Declaration" which affirms a shared commitment to peaceful, productive and sustainable use of the Indian Ocean and its resources.
And Julie Bishop confirmed that Australia will provide almost 1. 2 million AU dollars (almost 1.13 million US dollars) in 2014 for IORA initiatives to address the risk of disasters, water safety, seasonal climate forecasting, the sustainability of fisheries, and to monitor oil spills.
The Indian Ocean region is home to more than a quarter of the world's population. The ocean carries half of the world's cargo ships and two-thirds of the world's oil shipments, she emphasized.
"This diverse group of nations which span from Asia to Africa and the Middle East are linked by common challenges; the need to keep shipping lanes open, to keep fishery stocks viable, to prepare for disasters such as the Indian Ocean tsunami, and a desire to promote trade, education, the empowerment of women and girls and tourism and cultural links across the region," Bishop added.