Members of the National Working Group (NWG) for Nature Seychelles' Locally Empowered Area Protection (LEAP) project held their first meeting on 5 December 2019 at the Savoy, Beau Vallon, Mahe. The LEAP project aims to establish the first-ever Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) in Seychelles (See previous story).
Members of the NWG in a group photo
The working group is made up of representatives from government, non-government organisations, fishers, tourism, and other interest groups. It will steer the setting up of the LMMA.
Dr Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles Chief Executive, gave an exploratory summary of the project that focused on why Seychelles should set up an LMMA and whether it can actually be done here. He said that best practices documented around the world and in the Western Indian Ocean region suggest that LMMAs are an innovative approach for the management of marine resources. Although new to Seychelles, the country already has examples of co-management in place. Co-management is included in the Seychelles Protected Areas Policy and is enshrined in the new draft National Parks and Reserves Bill. The government's recent Private and Public Partnerships policy also creates an enabling environment. The key, he said, is to partner will all stakeholders.
Thomas Sberna, IUCN-ESARO Regional Technical Coordinator - Coastal and Ocean Resilience, provided a background of the regional project. He contextualized the project around IUCN's Blue Framework that consists of the following: Blue People Increasing ocean and coastal benefits to the people, Blue Nature Securing critical ecosystems integrity and Blue Partnerships Enabling effective conservation for nature and the people. He also outlined the IUCN-led activities in Seychelles which include governance, the Green List, regional cooperation and advocacy.
Thembie Manjengwa, Project Coordinator at Nature Seychelles, outlined the role of the National Working group and the main activities of the LEAP project on site, work plan and work packages.
Sam Ramkalawan, Technical Advocacy manager at Nature Seychelles, presented the site selection criteria for discussion. The NWG then made proposals for possible sites and discussed each in detail.