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Helena Sims – the project manager of the plan – told Seychelles News Agency (SNA) last week that the decision is in support of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity to improve marine protection worldwide.
Sims explained that the government recognised that more effort is needed to conserve marine resources to ensure a healthy and well sustained marine ecosystem for present and future generations. The change will also support the fisheries, tourism and other key sectors contributing to the Blue Economy in Seychelles.
Sims added that “the move to designate more protected areas also arises from the signing of a debt-for-climate-change-adaptation swap in 2016 that converted some of Seychelles’ foreign debt to target conservation and climate change adaptation in the country.” This resulted in the setup of the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust, an independent, private trust.
Sims said that the new designation is important because, at present, 47% of Seychelles’ land is protected to conserve the islands’ unique and important terrestrial ecosystems, but only 0.04 percent of Seychelles’ ocean territory is protected.
“These new areas would bring the total area under marine protection from the current less than 0.1 percent protection to 15.6 percent or from 595 square kilometres to more than 210,000 square kilometres.”
The Aldabra Group which covers 74,400 square kilometres is being nominated for ‘Marine National Park’ category under the existing National Parks and Nature Conservancy Act of 1969. This area is described by the Marine Spatial Plan as a High Biodiversity Protection.
The second area — Amirantes to Fortune Bank — is 136,750 square kilometres and is being nominated as an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ category, under the same Act.
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