Working towards a common understanding of the marine spatial planning initiative (Seychelles)

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]ome 50 delegates from various ministries and environment-related organisations have attended the second workshop on 19 May 2014, on the Seychelles Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) Initiative.

The workshop was organised by the Ministry of Environment and Energy in close collaboration with the Nature Conservancy.

Seven delegates from the non-profit environmental organisations, the Nature Conservancy and Fabiana Issler from Global Environment Facility (GEF) and regional technical adviser at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) were also present at the workshop which was officially opened by environment and energy principal secretary Wills Agricole.

 The purpose of this workshop was for all stakeholders to have a common understanding of the Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) initiative, to characterise and analyse the current socio-economic and ecological conditions and to determine planning features like habitats and species, fishing and recreational areas and discuss potential targets for desired future conditions.
Mr. Wills Agricole, Principal Secretary for Environment and Energy in his opening speech remarked that “The sustainable development of small islands states like Seychelles is intrinsically related to the sustainable use of oceans, seas and coastal areas. Generations after generations of islanders have depended on the coast and marine environment for basic resources to sustain livelihood on islands. While the ocean and the sea have always been there to meet our needs, we have not always understood the need to have a healthy, productive and resilient marine environment.  Unfortunately for some, the sea represents a vast area with infinite resources where we can plunder as we please without thinking about tomorrow. Recent reports from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) show a collapsing fish stocks in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It makes us wonder if the Indian Ocean will not be next.”
This initiative has three components: the potential swapping of existing debt with the Paris Club members for the proposed replenishment zone; the creation of a Trust Fund, and finally the Marine Spatial plan that is currently being worked on. This plan is an important tool that will help Seychelles optimise economic opportunities with due regard to conservation efforts”. The results of the consultative process which involves the participation of a very wide array of stakeholders and based on the best available scientific information will provide a clear guidance to policy makers.
During the workshop, a stakeholder from the Nature Conservancy of Seychelles gave an introduction of the Seychelles Marine Spatial Planning initiative and a participant from the Nature Conservancy Belize and also responsible for the initiative in Seychelles gave an overview of the Seychelles Initiative goals, scope and timeline.

Other topics of discussion during the two days included the governance framework as well as an update on the revised protected area legislation and relationship to marine spatial planning. Technical working groups were set up to refine and prioritise the list of features for inclusion in the draft of Smart Marine Spatial Planning objectives and small group work reviewed the existing and derived data sets. Finally there was a general discussion to fill the existing data gaps.



Source:            Seychelles Nation newspaper, 19 may 2014

                        (This article has been edited)

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