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SPGA, WIOMSA launch WIO-COMPAS |06 May 2023


Delegates in a souvenir photograph after the launch ceremony on Wednesday

The Seychelles Parks and Gardens Authority in partnership with the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association has launched the Western Indian Ocean Certification of Marine Protected Area Professionals (WIO-COMPAS), to evaluate Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

The launch ceremony was held at the Berjaya Beau Vallon Bay Resort on Wednesday morning.

Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment Minister Flavien Joubert said protected areas contribute one way or another to economic opportunities for the population and play a pivotal role in natural heritage conservation.

“It is only through effective protective area management that eco and cultural tourism activities are able to flourish,” explained Minister Joubert.

The minister stated that Seychelles is committed to putting in place the necessary measures for better functioning of protected areas governance.

“It is both an honour and pleasure to officially launch the Western Indian Ocean Certification of Marine Protected Area Professionals (WIO-COMPAS),” he said.

Seychelles Parks and Gardens Authority (SPGA) chief executive, Allen Cedras, explained that the ceremony is of great importance in the conservation and protection of marine protected areas across the Western Indian Ocean.

“This annual certification programme led by the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) is of great importance for small islands states such as Seychelles,” stated Mr Cedras.

“Through such initiative, MPAs professionals are provided a platform to grow their abilities and further build confidence in safeguarding pristine and sensitive areas entrusted. It is imperative we have a robust and dynamic pool of local experts who are well equipped with relevant and effective tools and baggage to propel protected areas while also promoting conservation,” added Mr Cedras.

WIOMSA president, Marie-May Jeremie, said that the WIO-COMPAS programme is essential as a professional certification to increase the capacity of marine and coastal practitioners. More than 600 MPA practitioners – including rangers, wardens and scientists – have benefited from WIOMSA funded MPA training courses.

Former WIOMSA president, Nirmal Shah, spoke extensively about how far Seychelles has come and what it has achieved and its place in WIOMSA. Mr Shah was the longest serving board member.

Jessie McGrath of the Blue Nature Alliance stated that the alliance is geared towards trying to conserve large amounts of ocean conservation areas in a short timeframe.

“The way through this is done by creating new areas and the second is by improving the management of existing areas,” stated Ms McGrath.

The Blue Nature Alliance is also funding the WIO-COMPAS programme.

President of The Western Indian Ocean Marine Protected Areas Management Network (WIOMPAN), Karin Pothin, gave a presentation of the WIOMPAN and explained the role of the network and MPAs.

Through the longstanding partnership with WIOMSA, SPGA and other local agencies have been able to benefit from local technical support such as workshop training and conferences, generating a stage of exchange for best practises, policies and developing standard operating procedures.

Lawrence Sisitka gave an overview of the WIO-COMPAS history and how it runs and operates.

The certification event will welcome MPA professionals from neighbouring Western Indian Ocean nations (South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, Reunion Island and Seychelles). The delegation will consist of eight assessors and 16 participants who have either qualified for level 1 or level 2.

Two Seychellois candidates from SPGA are taking part in the event and they are Anto Suzette, Curieuse marine national park manager, and Demien Mougal, assistant park officer within the Ste Anne marine park.

Meanwhile, three Seychellois professionals ‒ Ronny Renaud, Allen Cedras and Dainise Quatre ‒ have received the WIO-COMPAS MPA pro-certification.

WIO-COMPAS is a programme which evaluates marine protected areas practitioners and ensures that they meet the highest standards in their management. It is a joint initiative of WIOMSA, of which SPGA is a proud member, and the Coastal Resources Centre (CRC) at the University of Rhode Island (URI). Throughout the six-day event, delegates will undergo training courses, professional development seminars, mentoring and networking, with the aim to better foster greater ability and knowledge for effective MPA management.

A boat and beach patrol, a key practical component of the certification, will similarly take place in the Ste Anne marine park today, whereby candidates will be able to witness first-hand the biophysical and socio-economic context of a marine park.


Sunny Esparon

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