Seychelles Moves to Protect its Seas For a Sustainable Future
The Seychelles as a nation is an amazing tourist destination for the rich and famous and newlywed. Home to some of the most beautiful waters and marine life the world has to offer, these 115 islands off the coast of East Africa have arguably huge natural significance.
The islands are one of the few places on Earth where you can see Hawksbill Turtles come ashore to lay eggs in the light of day. In addition, some of the planet’s rarest greenery lives here in the luscious forests of the islands, which cover nearly 90% of land in the nation. You can also find amazingly, 275 species of bird here.
So, it seems a no-brainer to protect the Seychelles as an area of massive environmental significance. With 42% of the country already protected, what is the new move about?
Protecting Marine Life and the Oceans in the Seychelles
A one of a kind deal has been made with a US charitable organization. This deal involves $21 million (£15 million) of the countries national debt being paid off. In exchange for this two giant marine parks will be created in the oceans around the Seychelles. These parks will have a primary focus; to protect and preserve the marine life contain within them.
This means that by 2021, 30% of the nation’s marine territory will be protected by these areas. The first marine park will be 51,700 square miles in size, close to the main island of Mahé. This area is focused on limiting fishing activity, banning some of the more controversial fishing techniques using large nets. It will also encourage more sustainable tourism activities in the nation.
The second smaller park will be 28,600 square miles big. This part looks at the protection of the Aldabra Islands. This group of islands hosts the second largest coral atoll in the World. The atoll is already a UNESCO World Heritage site and is considered as one of the most biodiverse, undisturbed reefs on Earth. So, a place that is well worth protecting.
How Will the Deal Work?
Under the terms of the deal, the charity will take on the portion of national debt as a “debt swap”. The country will then make repayments on this debt in the future to a new trust, the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT). This is something that has been in the making for around two years now, the original agreement being made in 2016.
The trust ensures that repayments are made at a lower interest rate. This is a great result for the nation as it can make substantial savings on it’s devt. Any savings the country makes, as a result, will go to fund special projects with the goal of protecting marine life and preventing the effects of climate change.
The deal is a first, and as a result, has attracted huge global attention. In fact, one of the investors was a fund set up by Oscar Winning Actor Leonardo Di Caprio.
As for how the marine areas will be protected and enforced, this still leaves questions. With an area larger than the size of Great Britain now to look after, it will be a challenge to monitor the boat traffic through these waters, and make sure the rules are being followed. You can read more about the commitment here.
With the Caribbean next on the list for the charity, we may see more debt swap deals leading to a healthier planet in the future.
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