The Seychelles islands are located east of Kenya, near the equator. Its beautiful beaches, virgin jungles, thriving coral reefs, and UNESCO-listed nature reserves are among the many attractions of the archipelago’s 115 islands. The larger inner islands are quite developed for tourists, studded with many luxurious five-star resorts. The natural wonders of the Seychelles are clearly its prime asset.
Given this, the Seychelles have now established 154,000 square miles of marine protected areas, fulfilling a pledge to protect nearly a third of its vast territorial waters. This is an area twice the size of Great Britain.
About half of the newly protected areas will be “no-take zones” in which economic activity such as fishing and mining will be prohibited. Only limited economic activities will be permitted in the other half of the protected areas.
The President of the Seychelles signed the decree establishing the marine reserve in mid-March. The reserve will help protect the nation’s fisheries resources and safeguard a host of species including endangered sea turtles, sharks, and the Indian Ocean’s last remaining population of dugongs, which are marine mammals similar to manatees.
The funding for managing and protecting the new marine reserves will come from what is termed a debt-for-nature deal. It is an agreement that was worked out with the help of The Nature Conservancy that allows the country to restructure nearly $22 million in foreign debt in exchange for protecting marine resources and enacting climate adaptation measures.
This major expansion of the Seychelles’ marine protected area is a major step in the conservation of the archipelago’s biodiversity. The success of that conservation will ultimately depend upon enforcement, public-private partnerships, and innovative management.
Photo, posted October 22, 2017, courtesy of Falco Ermet via Flickr.