The Seychelles Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) Initiative is a process focused on planning for and management of the sustainable and long-term use and health of the Seychelles Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The EEZ encompasses 1,374,000 km2 of ocean and 115 islands. The MSP Initiative is a Government-led process, with planning and facilitation managed by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and TNC Canada in partnership with Government of Seychelles – UNDP GEF Programme Coordinating Unit (PCU). Funding for the Initiative is being provided through a number of grants to Government of Seychelles and an Oceans 5 grant awarded to TNC. The MSP Initiative is an integrated, multi-sector approach to address climate change adaptation, marine protection and support the Blue Economy and other national strategies. The process includes input from all major sectors of the Seychelles including commercial fishing, tourism and marine charters, biodiversity conservation, renewable energy, port authority, maritime safety, and no-renewable resources in order to develop a comprehensive marine plan with stakeholder input.
Why Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) for the Seychelles?
In 2010, the Government of Seychelles set a goal for protected area expansion: 50% of all terrestrial areas and 30% of the Exclusive Economic Zone including 15% in ‘no take’ areas. Currently, more than 47% of the land is protected and 0.04% of the ocean. The MSP Initiative uses an ecosystem-based approach to propose new marine protected areas in conjuction with improved management for uses and activities in the 1.37 million square kilometers of ocean. The MSP Initiative uses global best practices, scientific data, local expert knowledge and stakeholder input to create maps showing how we use the ocean and what we know about its ecology. Funding to support implementation of the MSP will come in part from the Seychelles Conservation & Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT), created as a result of the debt-for-adaptation swap in 2015.
Marine spatial planning is a public process of analysing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic and social objectives, usually specified through a political process (UNESCO 2009). The Seychelles’ EEZ is among the top 25 largest in the world and is a global biodiversity hotspot with two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Biodiversity is one of the country’s most important assets and it supports several major economic sectors, including fisheries and tourism. Geological studies indicate that there may be valuable petroleum reservoirs in Seychelles and renewable energy potentials exist near the coast and offshore. Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is a practical, transparent and participatory way to plan for the sustainable use of the Seychelles’ marine space and to balance demands for development with the need to protect the environment.
Article 38 of the Seychelles Constitution declares that: “The State recognises the right of every person to live in and enjoy a clean, healthy and ecologically balanced environment and with a view to ensuring the effective realisation of this right the State undertakes to ensure a sustainable socio-economic development of Seychelles by a judicious use and management of the resources of Seychelles”. This Article and the guiding principles of the Seychelles Sustainable Development Strategy (SSDS) provide an overall goal for the MSP Initiative: develop and implement an integrated marine plan to optimise the sustainable use and effective management of the Seychelles marine environment while ensuring and improving the social, cultural and economic wellbeing of its people. This multi-use plan will guide the strategies and decisions of the Seychelles Conservation & Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) established as part of the Debt-for-Climate-Change-Adaptation swap.
What is the overall goal of the MSP Initiative?
The MSP Initiative will develop a Marine Spatial Plan for Phase 1 outputs before the end of 2017, and complete the final Marine Spatial plan before the end of 2020. Outputs include an MSP Atlas, containing maps and information on biodiversity and human uses, and a spatial data catalogue and decision-support tools to support decision making now and in the future. Once completed, the Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan will be the second largest in the world, and the first in the Western Indian Ocean.
Updated: 24 May 2017