Protection of marine and coastal areas |19 July 2021
Seychelles surpasses commitments under sustainable development goals
Seychelles has made significant progress towards increasing the total coverage of its marine protected areas as the country has declared marine and coastal areas as protected, representing 26.4% of its exclusive economic zone.
This is according to the new marine protected areas outlook by UNEP-Nairobi Convention and the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) Marine Science Association.
The establishment of these marine protected areas, or MPAs, mean that Seychelles has exceeded its 10% protection of its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) by the 2020 commitment under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14.5, and illustrates the country’s momentum as it prepares to achieve future targets under the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.
The marine protected areas outlook, released on Friday July 16, indicates that these MPAs span a breadth of 353,663 square kilometres, and documents how they have increased the resilience of its crucial fisheries and tourism sectors and preserved the country’s natural beauty for the enjoyment and use by its citizens.
Moreover, they have created safe havens for more than 2,600 documented species, some of which are endangered.
Although the ocean provides us with resources essential for survival ‒ like food, employment, and even oxygen ‒ humanity is damaging and depleting it faster than ever. This continued degradation will compromise the ocean’s potential in supporting key sectors – including fisheries and tourism – critical for Seychelles socio-economic development.
Marine protected areas offer one of the best options to reverse these trends. “A well-managed MPA can bring significant economic, social, and environmental benefits to a country,” said Allen Cedras, chief executive of the Seychelles National Parks Authority.
“They can increase food security by preventing the over-exploitation of fish stocks, create and protect jobs in the tourism and fisheries sectors, build resilience to climate change and protect species and habitats, just to name a few benefits.”
The Western Indian Ocean Marine Protected Areas Outlook: Towards achievement of the Global Biodiversity Framework targets examines the current and future status of MPAs at a regional level. It documents the progress made by nine countries in the WIO region in increasing MPA coverage, highlights best practices and challenges faced by governments in managing MPAs, and provides recommendations for how to make the impact of MPAs even greater.
Key recommendations from the outlook include the need for dedicated budgets for MPA management, adopting proactive law enforcement and compliance strategies to ensure MPA rules are being respected, incorporating research and monitoring programmes on biodiversity and ecosystems into decision-making in MPAs, and more.
“Seychelles has a lot of lessons to share about declaring and managing MPAs,” noted Nanette Laure, focal point of Seychelles to the Nairobi Convention. “We are also looking forward to learning from the region at large about their approaches to MPA management from the MPA Outlook.”
Although Seychelles has made significant strides in protecting its marine and coastal areas, there are several opportunities to build on this progress and ensure that people, the economy, and nature reap even more benefits from the country’s MPAs.
By seizing on the opportunities presented in the MPA Outlook, Seychelles and other countries in the region can capitalise on this momentum of expanding and improving MPA management ‒ thereby safeguarding the WIO’s immense natural beauty and resources for generations to come.
This Outlook was developed under the implementation of the strategic action programme for the protection of the Western Indian Ocean from land-based sources and activities project of the Nairobi Convention, funded by the Global Environment Facility.
The Nairobi Convention, signed by Comoros, France, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, and Tanzania, aims to promote a prosperous Western Indian Ocean region with healthy rivers, coasts, and oceans. It provides a platform for governments, civil society, and the private sector to work together for the sustainable management and use of the marine and coastal environment.
The UN Environment Programme is the leading global voice on the environment. It provides leadership and encourages partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.
The Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association is a non-profit, membership organisation dedicated to promoting the educational, scientific and technological development of all aspects of marine sciences throughout the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) region, with a view toward sustaining the use and conservation of its marine resources.