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Combating marine pollution   |13 December 2023

Combating marine pollution   

(L to r) Dr Payet, Minister Joubert and Minister Ferrari

Seychelles hosts workshop on plastic and waste management in the WIO region


Seychelles is hosting a three-day workshop to explore opportunities for a full cycle management of plastics and their associated chemicals and wastes in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region.

The workshop, which started on Monday at the Savoy Seychelles Resort & Spa in Beau Vallon, was officially opened yesterday.

It has been organised jointly by the Nairobi Convention for the protection, management and development of the Western Indian Ocean and the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions. These are multilateral environmental agreements sharing the common objective of protecting human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals and wastes.

The specific objectives of the meeting are to discuss progress WIO countries have made in combating the challenge of marine pollution from plastics and associated chemicals and wastes.

It is also to discuss progress made in the development of the legally binding global instrument and highlight main issues of relevance to WIO region, explore areas of common interests and formulate potential joint activities with the Nairobi Convention (NC) and the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions.

Another objective is to initiate the process of reviewing the Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter to have a stronger focus on plastics, align it to the NC process and ensure it captures the whole life cycle of plastics.

Addressing delegates during the opening ceremony yesterday, the Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment, Flavien Joubert, stated that marine plastic is today recognised as a major environmental, public health and economic challenges. This problem is not only affecting countries with inadequate waste management systems but because of ocean currents, even those with good waste management systems are struggling to cope.

“Island countries are major recipients of plastic from mainland states in far flung areas,” Minister Joubert stated.

Model results have shown that marine litter are transported across the Indian Ocean to the WIO region via the Somali current, East African coastal current, Mozambique current and Agulhas current.

“Added to this is the movement of locally discharged waste along the coast,” he added.

Seychelles has seen a significant increase in plastic waste in recent years, he said, citing a June 2016 research that revealed that 33 percent of all waste in the country consists of plastic bags.

It should be noted that the cabinet of ministers approved two sets of regulations to combat this crisis, imposing restrictions on importation, manufacturing, distribution, and sale of plastic bags and on plastic utensils and polystyrene boxes. The two statutory instruments came into effect on July 1, 2017.

Further to that, in 2019 a regulation was approved by the cabinet of ministers imposing restrictions on the manufacture, importation and distribution of plastic straws and plastic bags.

Also present at the opening ceremony yesterday were the Minister for Fisheries & the Blue Economy, Jean François Ferrari, and the executive secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, Dr Rolph Payet.

Dr Payet explained that as from January 1, 2025, due to the Electronic Waste Amendment, no countries under the BRS Convention will be allowed to export electronic waste without going through the Prior Inform Consent Procedure. This means that they will have to notify the other countries where they are sending their waste to avoid illegal, unreported or misreported shipments.

He said currently, people do not quite know what to do with electronic waste, and they either burn it or dispose of it in bins or landfill.

“Very small amount is actually recycled,” noted Dr Payet.

In addition, Dr Payet explained, the waste contains very complex and harmful chemicals which means that they cannot be dealt with in a normal factory, they have to go to specialised factories to be recycled.

“The problem is those factories are in very few places around the world, so you need to transport it,” he explained.

The workshop is also co-hosted by the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA), which is currently hosting the WIO Technical Working Group on Marine Litter and Microplastics.


Sunny Esparon


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