One of the most effective means for protecting marine and coastal biodiversity is through the establishment and proper management of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). IUCN defines an MPA as “Any area of intertidal or sub-tidal terrain, together with its overlying water and associated flora, fauna, historical and cultural features, which has been reserved by law or other effective means to protect part or all of the enclosed environment.”
Seychelles is proud and incredibly excited to champion the Action Group on Marine Protected Areas. Seychelles have always made significant progress at the national and regional level in the establishment and management of MPAs; we were the first to establish an MPA in the Western Indian Ocean. Since then, Seychelles has successfully established a networks of MPAs under different management responsibilities ranging from the Seychelles National Parks Authority, the Environment Department under the Ministry responsible for Environment and local NGOs.
With the ongoing Marine Spatial Planning exercise, where Seychelles hopes to set aside 30% of our EEZ as protected areas, Seychelles is increasingly being seen as a ‘champion’ regionally and globally on the subject especially amongst small island developing states. With the existing MPAs Seychelles has shown that sustainable development can happen within MPAs and also establishment of effective partnerships with the private sector, especially in the tourism sector, in the management of MPAs.
Seychelles feels it can share its experience and knowledge with other Commonwealth countries in the domain, continue to progress our knowledge through learning from others’ experiences, and also identify and develop innovative technical and financial approaches for the effective management of MPAs.