New coral reef policy in Seychelles seeks to minimise threats, improve awareness on vulnerability
In the effort to address threats that coral reefs in the waters of Seychelles face, the government has developed a national policy and strategic action plan for coral conservation and management.
One of the plan’s objectives is to establish an effective, transparent and equitable governance structure for coral and coral reef protection, conservation, sustainable use and adaptive management.
The proposed plan presents a series of 13 policy statements along with their associated actions under five priority work programmes.
The director general of the biodiversity conservation and management division of the environment ministry, Marie-May Muzungaile, told SNA that “the policy statements provide a structured approach to the management of Seychelles’ coral reefs and the reduction of the cumulative impacts of different natural and anthropogenic stressors.”
“As you know coral reefs are important ecosystems that sustain over 25 percent of life and biodiversity in oceans. Here in Seychelles, coral reefs cover an expanse of 1,690 square kilometres, and 17 percent of this is under threat from a number of natural and anthropogenic factors such as overfishing and climate change,” said Muzungaile.
Coral reefs support the economic pillars of the country, whilst at the same time supporting the livelihood and culture of the people of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. The threats being posed to corals and the rapid rate of degradation of corals and coral reefs, therefore, has a direct impact on the country’s economy and people.
“As such, the government has found it necessary to put in place this specific policy to ensure that an appropriate level of attention and action is veered towards this critical habitat. The policies consider actions to minimize the threats, enhance monitoring and research, build on financing, improve awareness on the value, importance and vulnerability of coral reef ecosystems,” said Muzungaile.
She added that with the establishment of the right governance structure, corals and coral reefs will be protected, sustainably used and managed efficiently.
“The actions are necessary to ensure that Seychelles’ coral reefs and associated ecosystems are conserved and adaptively managed to improve resilience and allow for the sustainable provision of key ecosystem, economic and social services,” said Muzungaile.
Developed in consultation with local partners, the policy and action plan will be implemented over five years, thereafter reviewed through an adaptive management approach. The policies are also supported by a Strategic Action Plan (SAP) that identifies and prioritises actions that contribute to the overall vision of the National Coral Reef Policy.