Seychelles' Denis Island presents marine sustainable management plan for public comment 

Tourism |Author: Alisa Uzice Edited by: Betymie Bonnelame | May 10, 2024, Friday @ 12:03| 2825 views

Denis Island falls under Zone 2 with five others. (Gerard Larose)

(Seychelles News Agency) - The owners of Denis Island in Seychelles and conservationists are finalising the consultation phase of its Marine Sustainable Use Area Management plan and members of the public are invited to make comments until May 12.  

The island has a luxury eco-retreat called Denis Private Island, owned by the Seychellois Mason family.

The general manager of Green Island Foundation (GIF), a not-for-profit organisation, Wilna Accouche, told SNA that this is part of the Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan Initiative.

The SMSP is an initiative approved in October 2020 focused on planning for and managing the sustainable and long-term use and health of the Seychelles' ocean. It covers the  1.4 million square kilometres of Seychelles Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)  and is expected to support the island nation's  Blue Economy.

The SMSP also includes the demarcation of more than 410,000 square kilometres which amounts to 30 percent of Seychelles' ocean as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). There are 13 MPAs divided into Zone 1 - High Biodiversity Protection Areas where almost no extractive human activities are allowed.

Zone 2 is Medium Biodiversity Protection and Sustainable Use Areas designed to conserve natural ecosystems while allowing some economic activities, including fishing, tourism charters, renewable energy, and others. Significant new conditions will regulate businesses operating in these areas.

Denis Island falls under Zone 2 with five others, the Amirantes group to Fortune Bank, the Cosmoledo as Astove atolls, the Farquhar group, and Desroches and Poivre atolls.  

The Denis Island Sustainable Use Area is approximately 29 square kilometres and encompasses a distance of 2 km long around the island 

Accouche said, "These zones consist of 15 percent of Seychelles EEZ and Territorial Sea and have been chosen for medium marine conservation and biodiversity goals, for representative habitats and species they harbour. These areas are also suitable for some level of extraction and seabed alteration, with appropriate management direction, depending on the objective of each designated area."

She added that GIF has worked with Bee Ecological Consulting, the University of Seychelles and Denis Private Island Company to conduct baseline work necessary; for the drafting of a management plan for the sustainable use area with financial support from Seychelles Conservation and Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT).

The Denis Island Sustainable Use Area is approximately 29 square kilometres and encompasses a distance of 2 km long around the island up to the high-water mark and Acclouche said, "This area is rich in marine biodiversity with perhaps the most important green turtle population in inner Seychelles. There are also fishing activities that are conducted within this zone."

The plan will guide the managers, stakeholders, and users on allowable activities, management strategies and actions to protect and conserve its identified values. It will provide reasonable opportunities to access and use the area for economic growth, education, recreation and scientific purposes.

"The implementation of this plan is to be undertaken per other national policies, laws and obligations of international conventions. It does not supersede any existing legal framework in place and should be amended accordingly as and when necessary to follow newly enacted laws," added Accouche.

The activities to be carried out within the area will be regulated under the new Nature Reserves and Conservancy Act, of 2022.

Accouche said that before the public review process, Bee Ecological Consulting and GIF consulted other stakeholders and users of the Denis Sustainable Use Area.

"This included artisanal fishers, sea cucumber fishers, sports fishers, the owners and management of Denis Island, the Fishing Authority, the Ministry for Environment, and the Marine Spatial Planning team. Feedback from these partners has been incorporated. It is now the turn of the general public to view and give their feedback on the plan."

"So concerned individuals are invited to send their input through an online form. Simultaneous to this process, selected parties have been asked to send their comments. These comments will be compiled at the close of the public review window set on the 12th of May," she added.


Tags: Denis Private Island, marine protected areas, Green Island Foundation, Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan Initiative

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