Seychelles: Protecting Marine Areas

Cousin Island special reserve – marine protected area. Photo: IUCN
Cousin Island special reserve – marine protected area. Photo: IUCN

Pioneering regional project to create locally managed marine areas (LMMAs) launched in Seychelles

In September, the national Seychelles component of the new regional IKI project "Enhancing coastal and marine socio-ecological resilience and biodiversity conservation in the Western Indian Ocean,” coordinated by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), has been launched.

The Seychelles component of the project, which also implements activities in Mozambique, Kenya and Tanzania, officially started on 17th September 2019. The ceremony was organised by Nature Seychelles and took place at its Centre for Environment and Education located in Mahe Island, Seychelles’ most populated island and Government seat.

The project is funded by the International Climate Initiative (IKI) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU). Implementation of the initiative will be coordinated by IUCN in partnership with Nature Seychelles in Seychelles, Associação do Meio Ambiente (AMA) in Mozambique and Coastal Oceans Research and Development – Indian Ocean (CORDIO) for regional activities as well as some activities in Kenya and Tanzania.

Speaking at the launch of the project in Seychelles, the German Ambassador to Seychelles, Her Excellency Mrs. Annett Günther said: “Since 2008, IKI has been financing climate and biodiversity projects in developing and newly industrializing countries, as well as in countries in transition. I am pleased to be here today to launch this project which is the first in Seychelles to be funded by IKI.”

Ambassador Gunther congratulated Nature Seychelles, for being the implementing partner of this pioneering initiative in the country. She also appreciated the Seychelles Government, notably the Ministry for Environment, Energy and Climate Change (MEECC) and the Blue Economy Department, for supporting the project.

The chief guest at the launch, Mr. Wallace Cosgrow, Seychelles Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change said: "This is a wonderful opportunity for Seychelles, there's space in the environment sector for us to collaborate. The partnership between Seychelles, the German Government, IUCN and Nature Seychelles is perfect for this project.”

The time is right

Although Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMA) are already well-known elsewhere in the region, including other states such as Madagascar, Kenya and Tanzania to Seychelles the model is rather new.

"Governments and the private sector have begun to appreciate that for resources to benefit people and for growth to be inclusive, approaches have to be participatory. The project will be looking at the critical components of creating an LMMA," said IUCN Regional Programme Coordinator Mr. Charles Oluchina who gave a brief overview of the regional project at the launch.

Dr. Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles' Chief Executive said: “For many years Governments across the world including the Seychelles have protected amazing landscapes for people, leisure, tourism, and protection of biodiversity. The time has come to trust local people to help manage these public goods and services. Nature Seychelles likes to undertake out-of-the-box projects, which end up in ground breaking, long-term outcomes for people and biodiversity. It will be no different for this project because here in Seychelles what we finally see as an LMMA may be unique from those on other islands. This is the fresh, exciting and innovative element that we bring not only to Seychelles but to the region.”

The project will last four years with investment in policy-related activities as well as infrastructure, conservation and restoration actions, training and equipment, public awareness programmes, and introduction of sustainable funding mechanisms.

"As IUCN we are very excited to partner with our long-time member Nature Seychelles for this pioneering project. As Seychelles and the broader region are embarking on increasingly ambitious and much needed efforts to protect our oceans, this initiative is a timely opportunity for us to spearhead some of the thinking and the work in how to make local stakeholders become active stewards of our oceans, participate in local management efforts and also become more resilient in the face of climate change. I think if we are successful, we'll be able to share our own lessons and inspire others in the region and in the world," concluded IUCN’s Regional Technical Coordinator for Coastal and Ocean Resilience, Thomas Sberna.

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