Seychelles had pledged to protect 50 percent of its seagrass in 2025 and 100 percent by 2030. (James Michel Foundation)
Ninety-nine percent of the Seychelles’ seagrass is found in protected areas and this puts the island nation five years in advance in reaching its target of 100 percent protection by 2030, said Flavien Joubert, the Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment.
Joubert was speaking at the Seychelles Pavilion at the United Nations 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) on Friday in an event organised by the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) to launch the island nation’s participation at the COP28.
With the theme of “Blue Carbon Ecosystems for People, Nature and Climate: Leadership in the Western Indian Ocean”, many representatives from other countries attended the presentation.
Seychelles had pledged to protect 50 percent of its seagrass in 2025 and 100 percent by 2030.
“We have already achieved 99 percent in 2023, showing that we are well ahead of our schedule, a number that I still find hard to believe,” Joubert said proudly.
Seychelles has also completely mapped the seagrass species found in the 1.4 million square kilometres of its Exclusive Economic Zone in 2022.
“We are among the first countries in the world to have mapped our seagrass and now Oxford, Pew and Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) are applying the same mapping process,” he added.
The Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) is a regional professional, non-governmental registered in Zanzibar. It aims to promote educational, scientific, and technological development of marine sciences throughout the Western Indian Ocean.
|The event was organised SeyCCAT to launch Seychelles’ participation at the COP28. (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
Joubert said that seagrass is an ocean-wide issue and not only a Seychelles issue and added that seagrass forests have already been recognised as carbon sinks, helping in the emissions problem.
The minister, however, cautioned that this was not the only reason that such species and their habitat must be protected as he highlighted that 40 percent of the world’s commercial fisheries depended on seagrass.
Seychelles has come a long way in its seagrass protection as there are now seagrass defenders in the country who include the protection of the species in their narratives, said Joubert.
When asked by the audience what advice he had for other countries wanting to emulate Seychelles’ success in the field, Joubert said “There should be support from the top to see the issue as one national importance and find good partners to move forward.”
He added that this should include “embedding seagrass protection in programs that you can capacity build on later. We have come a long way from Cancun, where protecting seagrass was just a peripheral and abstract discussion – we are now seeing actions.”