Seychelles designate one third of its EEZ as Marine Protected Areas

Seychelles designate one third of its EEZ as Marine Protected Areas

On March 26th 2020, the world witnessed a historical event where Seychelles completed a six year long initiative and designated 30% of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) as marine protection areas, a target reached 10 years ahead of the global target to have 30% ocean protection by 2030.

Mr Wallace Cosgrow, the Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change signed the legal instrument in the presence of Mr Danny Faure, President of the Republic of Seychelles, high government officials and TNC representative.

Gazetting of the legal instruments will result in the declaration of 13 new protected areas.  These include the designation of high biodiversity waters surrounding the Aldabra group, marine areas in the Amirantes including D’Arros to Poivre, and the South of Amirantes and Bird Island where no human activity other than sustainable tourism will be permitted.  It also includes the medium biodiversity areas that fall within the Amirantes to Fortune Bank which will be designated for sustainable use where activities vital to Seychelles’ economy will continue to operate under new sustainability regulations.

‘The initiative is the result of extensive consultations with all the major sectors using or valuing the ocean in Seychelles’.  Said the President in his inaugural speech.

‘It has taken over 6 years to plan and finalise, with 200 consultations, marking the final milestone in developing a Marine Spatial Plan for the whole EEZ’ he further added.

The Marine Spatial Plan is a way of tackling the sustainable development of the ocean for today and future generations. Seychelles is one of the first Small Island Developing State, to develop a comprehensive, large-scale Marine Spatial Plan in the Western Indian Ocean.

The Marine Protection Areas form part of a whole-ocean Marine Spatial Plan that will cover all of Seychelles’ ocean, addressing increased management of all marine resources, regulatory attention, and unified government coordination to support the country’s Blue Economy.

Designating 30% of its marine area as protected, supports the Government’s commitment to the Blue Economy Agenda and the UN Sustainable Development Goal SDG-14 on Life under Water. It also means Seychelles has already tripled the UN Convention of Biological Diversity Target 11 for 10% marine protection by 2020.

The initiative was led by Government of Seychelles as part of the award-winning debt-for-nature swap supported by The Nature Conservancy.

The President speech is available here