New step towards regional strategy to save biodiversity


24-November-2011

Mrs D’Offay (right) addressing the delegates at yesterday’s conference

They did so in a workshop launched at the Seychelles Fishing Authority by technical adviser in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jeanette D’Offay, who is also the liaison officer for the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC).

The day-long session was organised by the National Parks Authority (NPA), the IOC, and the World Wide Fund office in Madagascar.

NPA chief executive Denis Matatiken told Nation the western Indian Ocean island marine eco-region is one of the most biologically diverse regions.

“It consists of diverse tropical marine habitats which support a wealth of floral and faunal diversity of global importance,” he said.

Mr Matatiken said the region is recognised as a global hotspot for coral reef fish and is home to some of the healthiest populations of whales, marine turtles amongst other flag ship species.  It also consists of the largest sea grass bed in the world. 

“The marine region is at risk from threats like unsustainable fisheries, unplanned development, pollution and the spread of non-indigenous and potentially invasive species.

The pressures on the marine and coastal resources are intensifying and these threats are made worse by climate change,” he said.

He said sustainable use is not the same as prohibiting the use of a resource, giving the example of sharks, which he said can be caught but not just for fins, as the rest of the body should be landed and the meat put to good use

Three years ago, marine protected area managers from the Comoros, Mauritius, Madagascar, Seychelles and Reunion – during a meeting in Antananarivo – highlighted the need for a regional strategy given that the issues are common in the region.

The IOC with financial help from the Fonds Français pour l’Environnement Mondial (FFEM) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) initiated consultations with different stakeholders in the different countries to identify priority actions required to protect and use marine resources sustainably.

The regional strategy identified sites and priority areas for protection of biodiversity. It also proposes seven regional initiatives to tackle some of the toughest and most important challenges the region faces.

Conserving biodiversity and managing marine resources sustainably is everyone's business

The experts yesterday said good progress in each of these seven areas over the next five years will do much to stabilise degrading ecosystems, fisheries, economies, and socio-economic and cultural instabilities.

Mrs D’Offay reminded the delegates that the draft has been put together through a lengthy process which involved broad consultations with various actors throughout the region to find practical solutions and actions to manage the eco-region.

“We must remember that government cannot do it alone. Therefore the civil society, private sector, scientists and members of the community need to work together with government to contribute not only to the development but also the implementation of the strategy,” she said.

“We need to ensure that we find the balance between sustainable resource use and the conservation of biodiversity.” 

She expressed hope that the group would manage to get all the countries in the eco-region to work together towards the same aim.

“Each country shall adopt the document to complement national programmes and strategies. In doing so, it will enable the island community to speak with one voice to the rest of the world about their desired balance for the health of their seas and use of marine resources.”
 
She told the delegates their contribution is crucial: “We need your full support to improve the strategy. We should not see this workshop as an end to itself but the beginning for joint and concerted national efforts between the different national stakeholders. Where we lack capacities, we should make use of regional expertise. In this way, we will be in a better position to share views and to accomplish specific task.”

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