Coral reef project "historic opportunity," Ambassador says

On Tuesday October 26, 2010 Nature Seychelles launched an innovative project to restore damaged corals in Seychelles called Reef Rescuers - Restoring Coral Reefs in the Face of Climate Change at its office the Centre for Environment and Education in Roche Caiman in the presence of Seychelles Minister for Investment, Natural Resources & Industry, Peter Sinon, US Ambassador to the Seychelles Mary Jo Wills, partners from government and the civil society, and other guests. Coral reefs are extremely important for Seychelles, providing food, coastal protection, revenue and employment in the fishing and the tourism sectors. However, coral reefs in Seychelles and the Indian Ocean have suffered from climate-induced effects causing them to whiten and die. The project seeks to repair this damage in selected sites.

The project is financially supported by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and is part of the United States strategic global commitments to partner with governments, civil society organizations and other relevant stakeholders to address the impacts of climate change.  

"The United States is actively engaged in the mitigation of climate change. President Obama announced in Copenhagen that the US would provide funds to developing countries to assist them in meeting climate change mitigation goals. The US partnership with Nature Seychelles on coral reef restoration is proof that small island states can access climate change mitigation pledges made by the US, China, the EU and other developed economies at Copenhagen." Ambassador Wills said.

"We believe that both public and private entities must act now to halt continuing degradation in all island countries and coastal regions of the world. We also believe that a historic opportunity is at hand in the Indian ocean, with Nature Seychelles, to make positive and lasting changes in the way we manage, restore and rescue our reef resources including fisheries resources and coral reefs upon which fisheries depend." She added.

Corals of a variety of species will be grown and then planted on selected sites. Whilst growing, they will be protected from predators and other disturbances. The project will also bring in participants from Seychelles and several countries of the region.

“Over the past years people just kept on talking about coral bleaching. We decided to do something about it and use our skills and experience in restoring ecosystems on land and in saving rare birds and do the same under the sea.” Says Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles Chief Executive.

Minister Sinon hailed the project saying there is great and immediate need to seriously consider climate change mitigation and adaptation measures.

"Whilst our reefs continue to act as our first line of defence from rising ocean levels that threaten to erode our shores, they remain the most important habitats and spawning grounds for our main protein and daily diet - our fish supply." He said.

This project also brings back USAID to the Seychelles. USAID has not been involved in the Seychelles since the early 1980s.

"On behalf of the Government and People of Seychelles I express my sincere gratitude to Ambassador Wills and her team for the facilitation of this project." Minister Sinon said.

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