Seychelles may be tiny, but the work its residents have done to protect its bustling marine life and gorgeous waters has an enormous impact.
The archipelago of 114 islands, located in the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa, is home to numerous beaches, coral reefs and rare animals.
Thanks to a new initiative, more than 30 percent of the country’s waters are now protected. The government has placed restrictions on environmentally damaging activities, such as certain types of fishing and human interference.
The protected area around Seychelles stretches about 171,000 square miles — a portion of the globe nearly 1,000 times larger than the country’s own landmass.
Danny Faure, the president of Seychelles, said in a speech that meeting this goal means a lot for the country’s current residents, and for all future generations as well.
According to the Associated Press, he made a global plea for stronger protection of the “beating blue heart of our planet.”
“We have a relationship with nature, and we depend on the ocean,” he continued. “And achieving this is a very strong message.”
Only seven percent of the world’s oceans are currently protected. A few countries have pledged to increase those areas by 10 percent, but experts say it’s not enough.
Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, says Seychelles is setting the standard for much larger countries.
“Lots of people are saying, ‘So, what’s our excuse? We’re bigger, we are wealthier. Is it that we lack commitment? And if we lack commitment, how can we change that?'” she told the Associated Press. “But for some people, they’re saying; ‘We don’t lack commitment, we just don’t know how to do it.'”
Leo Barret and his colleagues from the Marine Conservation Society Seychelles have been working to establish coral nurseries to help restore reefs near the country — just one of the many steps Seychelles has taken to restore marine life.
“What do you want your grandchildren to see? Do you want them to see a sea full of plastic pollution, full of bottles?” he told the Associated Press.
“Or [do] you want to be able to show the future generation coral reef, the fish biodiversity, this is something specific from the ocean, specific on the earth? I think we need to preserve that.”
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