Seychelles designates huge new marine reserve

February 22, 2018
A vast area of ocean around the Seychelles will be off-limits to trawlers under the landmark deal

A vast new marine protected area has been created in the Indian Ocean around the Seychelle islands, the government announced Thursday.

The 210,000-square-kilometre (81,000-square-mile) zone—an area equivalent to nearly half of the Black Sea—is intended to protect both the sea and the archipelago's economy, which relies on fishing and tourism.

"Our large ocean brings development opportunities but also responsibility," said Environment Minister Didier Dogley. "Our ocean is central to our development and for the future of generations to come."

Dogley described the initiative as "a paradigm shift on how we manage and use our coastal and ocean resources."

It is the result of a ground-breaking financial deal, brokered in 2016 by American NGO the Nature Conservancy.

Under it, $21 million (17 million euros) of government debt was swapped for conservation funding to protect the low-lying, ocean-dependent nation against the effects of climate change, including warming, rising and acidifying seas.

The deal, which covers roughly 15 percent of Seychelles' exclusive economic zone, was partly funded by a foundation chaired by Hollywood actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio.

"This effort will help the people of Seychelles protect their ocean for future generations, and will serve as a model for future marine conservation projects worldwide," said DiCaprio.

"These protections mean that all species living in these waters or migrating through them are now far better shielded from overfishing, pollution, and climate change."

Almost one-third of the new reserve will be off-limits to all fishing. The remaining area will allow small-scale, local fishing but ban trawlers from the country's $300 million fishing industry.

The new protected areas include the remote Aldabra atolls, home to nesting seabirds, hawksbill turtles, giant tortoises and the dugong, or sea cow.

Dogley said that by 2020 close to a third of Seychelles waters will be protected with a new "spatial plan" for ocean use to prevent unregulated and illegal fishing as well as oil and gas exploration, deep-sea mining and dredging.

The Nature Conservancy's president, Mark Tercek, said the Seychelles would be a model for the rest of the world.

"What you see today in Seychelles is what we expect to introduce in the Caribbean and other regions facing the threats of ," he said.

Explore further: Regulators vote to protect more corals in Atlantic Ocean

Related Stories

Study finds strong support for ocean protection

January 10, 2018

The public widely believes that the marine environment is under threat from human activities, and supports actions to protect the marine environment in their region, according to a new study to be published in the February ...

Recommended for you

Space-inspired speed breeding for crop improvement

November 16, 2018

Technology first used by NASA to grow plants extra-terrestrially is fast tracking improvements in a range of crops. Scientists at John Innes Centre and the University of Queensland have improved the technique, known as speed ...

Cells decide when to divide based on their internal clocks

November 16, 2018

Cells replicate by dividing, but scientists still don't know exactly how they decide when to split. Deciding the right time and the right size to divide is critical for cells – if something goes wrong it can have a big ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.