The government of Seychelles has recently announced the creation of new Marine Protected Areas, after a three year long public consultation within the framework of its Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) Initiative.
On the 21st February 2018, Didier Dogley, Seychelles’ Minister of the Environment, Energy, and Climate Change announced the establishment of two new Marine Protected Areas on a large Indian Ocean zone, including the Aldabra Islands, the Amirante Islands, and the Mahe Island.
The western Indian Ocean archipelago of Seychelles, extending between 4 and 10 degrees South of the equator, includes 125 islands. These occupy a land area of 451 km2, with an Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.3 million km2, or almost 3’000 times the size of the land area. The country’s approximately 87,400 inhabitants live mostly on the islands’ coasts and are highly dependent on the surrounding ocean.
The establishment of the new 210,000 km2 wide MPAs is aimed at protecting the marine ecosystems and people from climate change risks and uncertainties. As a Small Island Developing State (SIDS), the country’s population is especially vulnerable to climate-related stresses or hazards, such as projected sea level rise, ocean acidification or fish stock depletion, but also exposed to extreme weather events such as surge storms or tsunamis, threatening fragile coastal infrastructures.
In order to address these pressing challenges, Seychelles, under its Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) Initiative launched in 2014 and set to be completed by 2020, envisions the safeguarding of 30% of the archipelago’s ocean, along with the development of its Blue Economy, while addressing climate change adaptation. The completion of these objectives would improve people’s well-being and livelihoods, and represent a big step towards Sustainable Development Goal 14, through “the conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources”.
The initial creation of a Marine Spatial Plan, which facilitated the allocation of often conflicting human activities in Seychelles’ marine areas, has been essential for achieving the creation of the two latest Marine Protected Areas.
Photo: Peter Prokosch