The archipelago state aims to save its coral reefs in exchange for international debt relief
An ambitious environmental scheme is currently taking shape in the country of the Seychelles, an archipelago nation of 115 islands in the Western Indian Ocean over 2,000 kilometres from Tanzania.
Local authorities, with the help of the environmental foundation founded by a Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio, have developed a plan to protect their marine life in exchange for an alleviation of $22 million of the country’s national debt.
The debt – owed to the UK, France, Belgium and Italy – has been purchased by The Nature Conservancy, a non-governmental organisation supporting environmental activities. DiCaprio’s foundation donated $1 million to the cause.
“The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation led private-sector investments to support the Nature Conservancy in the world’s first debt swap aimed at ocean conservation and climate resiliency,” the foundation said on their website.
“The deal increases protection for the Seychelles’ waters from less than 1 per cent to more than 30 per cent and supports the creation of the second largest Marine Protected Area in the West Indian Ocean, an area equal to 400,000 square kilometres,” the foundation explains.
— DiCaprio Foundation (@dicapriofdn) February 21, 2018
“Half of this area will be designated as ‘no-take’ zones to protect fish breeding sites and scientifically identified priority biodiversity areas.”
The state, famous for being a tropical paradise and an ideal place for a honeymoon, is facing issues linked to its two main industries – tuna fishing and tourism – that negatively affect local marine life and the state of coral reefs.
“Warmer ocean temperatures are diminishing ﬁsh stocks; and increasing ocean acidity from rising carbon levels are destroying coral reefs that not only buffer the force of storms but also provide vital nurseries for numerous marine species,” said the DiCaprio Foundation.