Seychelles and Cuba are expected to develop a cooperation programme on environment conservation, natural resource management and sustainable fishing following the visit of a Cuban delegation last week.
The delegation, which included the director of The Ocean Foundation for the Caribbean Region, Fernando Bretos, the director of the Cuban Protected Area System, Carlos Díaz, met with local partners in the areas identified for cooperation.
The Principal Secretary for Environment, Alain Decommarmond, told reporters on Friday that “environmental conservation, particularly in reference to protected areas, is a key concern for both countries and solutions could better be found when countries facing the same challenges sit down to talk.”
Decommarmond said both countries as small islands states surrounded by waters believe in protecting their marine resources and designated protected areas to ensure sustainability.
Both countries, he said, can further learn from each other by sharing knowledge on how to further protect the marine resources.

Decommarmond addressing reporters in the press conference on Friday. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY 
Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, is seen as a champion of the Blue Economy. The island nation has designated 26 percent of its territorial waters as marine protection areas to complete the second phase of the debt-for-conservation finance deal with The Nature Conservancy.
The director of the Caribbean region, Fenando Brefes, said, “This is a brilliant concept that Seychelles has adopted and has the knowledge in. The concept is all about protecting the ocean and the marine resources and Cuba is all for that and is ready to learn from Seychelles on to build the foundation.”  
Brefes said that Cuba, like Seychelles, relies heavily on its coastal and marine resources as a source of income.
“Recreational fishers from the Caribbean region return to Cuba year after year to fish the island’s rich waters. The question is how to find solutions to maintain a balance to ensure that everything is being done in a sustainable manner. Seychelles Is doing great so far in protecting its marine resources and we are very keen to learn from that,” he said.
Another potential area of cooperation between the two countries is sustainable tourism.
“The two countries rely heavily on tourism. One key aspect that lures visitors to the two destinations is the environment. This is another thematic area where the two countries can work together to advance further,” said Decommarmond.
Tourism is the top contributor to the Seychelles’ economy.
A draft for the Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries is expected to be finalised by the end of this year and signed next year when a Seychelles delegation travel to Cuba in a follow-up visit.
The visit of the Cuban delegation took place from September 1-6 and the members met with officers of the environment and tourism departments, the Seychelles National Parks Authority and the Seychelles Fisheries Authority among others. 
Source: Seychelles News Agency