Implementation of Seychelles’ Marine Protected Areas to begin in 2022, official says
The implementation phase of the Marine Protected Areas in Seychelles is expected to start in 2022, said the project manager of the Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan initiative.
Seychelles reached its target of 30 percent ocean protection around some of its outer islands after 13 new areas were gazetted in March last year.
The establishment of these Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) means that Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has exceeded its 10 percent protection of its Exclusive Economic Zone by 2020 commitment under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14.5.
While these new MPAs have been officially gazetted and the zoning phase completed, the implementation phase has not yet begun, Helena Sims told SNA.
“With the pandemic, we have had delays in the implementation of these MPAs. We still need to formalise the regulations and management plan, but we are hoping to begin phased implementation during the year 2022,” said Sims.
The implementation phases will involve all partners in the marine sector for coordination, monitoring, enforcement and compliance. The process will include a wide range of activities such as review of regulations, management plans, frameworks, capacity building as well as costing and financing.
She said that there is also the need to have discussions with the partners and that also has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“These discussions include various authorities concerned with MPA’s as well as members of the public,” said Sims.
The 30 percent or 410,000 squares kilometres of the island nation Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.4 million squares kilometres will now be fully safeguarded to encourage sustainable development and to adapt to the effects of climate change.
The Seychelles’ achievement was highlighted by UNEP and the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) in its outlook on marine protected areas released in July.
The marine protected areas outlook indicates that these MPAs document 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.
Allen Cedras, CEO of the Seychelles National Parks Authority, said that “a well-managed MPA can bring significant economic, social, and environmental benefits to a country. They can increase food security by preventing the overexploitation 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 outlook documents the progress made by nine countries in the Western Indian Ocean region in increasing MPA coverage. It 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 programs on biodiversity and ecosystems into decision-making in MPAs, and more.