The Seychelles have extended the protection of their marine area, reaching 400 thousand square kilometers.
The waters of the Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands located in the Indian Ocean, are an extraordinary biodiversity hotspot and home to a large number of endemic species. The vast oceanic territory of the Seychelles extends for 1.3 million square kilometers and includes varied marine habitats, from coral reefs to underwater seaweed forests, to the pelagic environment. This priceless naturalistic wealth is now a little safer.
The president of the republic of the African country, Danny Faure, has in fact announced the extension of the Seychelles protected marine area. Thanks to the approval of thirteen new protection areas, a huge marine area covering a total of 410 thousand square kilometers – about a third of the ocean territory of the Seychelles an area larger than Germany – will be protected.
This is a result of the debt-nature exchange signed in 2012 by the Seychelles government and the Nature Conservancy association. The island nation had committed itself to bartering part of its huge public debt with the implementation of measures to conserve its waters and adapt to climate change. Nature Conservancy had granted the Seychelles a $ 21.4 million loan, with the aim of providing a monetary flow to finance the protection of the coral reef, fishing and adaptation of ecosystems to climate change, as well as to improve the financial health.
About half of the new marine protected areas, those defined as “high biodiversity”, will have protections similar to those of marine national parks, therefore economic activities such as fishing, extraction or drilling will not be allowed. In the remaining “medium biodiversity” areas, certain economic activities subject to regulation will be allowed.
The marine biodiversity of the Seychelles is threatened by overfishing, by pollutants that are released into the sea from the mainland and by the degradation of habitats due to offshore exploration and oil extraction, as well as the increase in water temperature.
The goal of the new protected areas is precisely to safeguard these delicate ecosystems that host threatened species, such as green turtles (Chelonia mydas), hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) and one of the last dugong populations (Dugong dugon) of the Indian ocean.