The Seychelles has designated 26% of its territorial waters as marine protection areas, to complete the second phase of the debt for conservation finance deal with The Nature Conservancy.

The announcement was made by Wallace Cosgrow, the Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, in his message for the World Environment Day on June 5.

With the new designation – the product of the Marine Spatial Planning process – Seychelles’ area now makes up 350 915 sq km of the island nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.4 million sq km.

As part of the debt conversion, Seychelles is increasing the marine protection area of its ocean from 0.04% to 30%. These first designations — an area the size of Great Britain — represents just the first half of the 410,000 square kilometres that will be protected by 2022.

In the first phase, the area which is now fully protected and where human activities are restricted, is the Aldabra group.

The second proposal was to expand and re-designate Amirantes to Fortune Bank Area from 136 753 square km to 173 468 sqkm – from 10.1% to 13%.

The marine spatial plan is an on-going process through December 2020 to identify marine zones and allowable activities for all marine waters in Seychelles. The marine zones are gazetted at intervals during the process as per conditions of the debt swap.