The Indian Ocean nation came up with a novel idea to reduce the county's debt by swapping the debt for pieces of nature to conservationist investors.
The Seychelles is a island nation in the Indian Ocean. The country has created a huge protection area in the ocean by accepting an offer by conservationists to pay for nature conservation areas. The deal was made between the Seychellois government and US-based environmental foundation ‘The Nature Conservancy’ as well as various other investors.
The conservation and protection area will be the size of Great Britain and is part of a plan to protect more than 30% of its ocean area by 2021 to then span an area the size of Germany. Previously only about 0.04% of the country’s water had been protected whilst half the land area is already under protection.
The plan will set up two protected areas the first around the Aldabra Islands and the second around the main islands. The plan limits tourism and economic activities in the protected areas as well as overuse by the fishing industry and exploitation by oil companies.
This will lead to increased fishing yields for the local small scale fishing industry as marine life can recover better in the protected areas, acting as breeding grounds for many species.
“Long ago you would fish for just a few hours and not far out to sea and get a good catch of well-sized fish. But these days what you used to get in just one hour takes you a whole day.” (Graham Green, Seychellois fisherman)
The Seychelles are an archipelago of 115 islands and a population of roughly 100,000. Find Seychelles Facts for kids here.
Combatting global warming
Protecting these areas is important as overfishing can be prevented and larger mammals such as turtles or the endangered dugongs can be protected. Additionally coral reefs can be better preserved, which can limit the impact heavy storms have on the nation. This is essential as the Seychelles are low lying islands that will be one of the hardest hit by global warming.