An innovative exchange of sovereign debt for marine conservation could change the way we protect world’s oceans.
Seychelles is to create two huge new marine parks in exchange for a large amount of its national debt to be written off in world-first finance scheme.
This innovative financial engineering aims to throw a lifeline to the country’s marine biodiversity endangered by overfishing and climate change. It could also potentially secure the economic future of the nation which is completely dependent on tourism and fishing.
“The biggest changes are climate change,” says David Rowat, a marine scientist and diving school owner for 30 years, to the Guardian. He adds that some clownfish have never returned since the major bleaching in 1998: “The ‘nemos’ all went.”
Overfishing and the killing of dolphins, sharks and turtles as bycatch in tuna nets is another important threat across Seychelles’ ocean territory. Fishing, however, would be completely banned around biodiversity hotspots, allowing them to be healthier and better able to resist climate change.
“The Seychelles is positioning itself as a world leader in ocean governance,” says environment minister, Didier Dogley. “But we are not doing this because we have such a great ego but because we truly believe these initiatives will create prosperity for our people, conserve critical biodiversity and build resilience against climate change.”
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