St Anne Marine Park is officially 50 years old By Laura Pillay |20 March 2023
The St Anne Marine Park celebrated its golden jubilee yesterday, March 19, 2023.
The park, which attracts a number of locals and visitors, was decreed a protected area on March 19, 1973, and is the oldest marine park in Seychelles and in the Western Indian Ocean region.
To mark the momentous occasion, the Seychelles Parks and Gardens Authority (SPGA) in collaboration with Club Med Seychelles and the National Sports Council (NSC) organised a guided kayak tour experience for staff, school children and invited guests, to enjoy the protected area’s marine life and ecosystem.
The event kicked off with a brief ceremony whereby chief executive of SPGA, Allen Cedras, said he is proud that the marine park has retained its significance and validity, still boasting its outstanding beauty, diversity, and coral habitats despite human impacts.
For his part, Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment (MACCE), Flavien Joubert, thanked the SPGA and Club Med Seychelles for their engagement in maintaining and the upkeep of the protected area.
In particular, Minister Joubert said he appreciates the efforts in national park management, especially considering the changes which have taken place recently, and which saw the establishment of the SPGA, formerly the Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA). He commended CEO Cedras and his team for their work and dedication.
In commemoration of the milestone anniversary, the SPGA gifted to those present a 50th anniversary branded cup, as a souvenir.
The guided tours around the St Anne island and nearby reed was conducted by SPGA rangers and staff, and was a great opportunity for all to appreciate the diversity and beauty of the park’s underwater system.
For fourteen-year-old Louisa Pillay, who is currently in S4 at Mont Fleuri secondary school, her first time on St Anne was truly a memorable one.
“I am really excited to see all that there is and I was looking forward to kayaking, and enjoying the beautiful sights,” she said.
Louisa and a number of other students from S4 and S5 and who are members of the school’s Eco club were invited to partake in the activity since the six islands which constitute the marine park form part of the Mont Fleuri district.
Aside from St Anne itself, Ile Moyenne, Ile Ronde, Ile Longue, Ile Cachée and Ile aux Cerfs all make up the marine park, which is situated some 5 kilometres (km) off the coast of Mahé.
St Anne island was the site of the first French settlement in 1770 and also served as a base for the Royal Marines during the second World War.
Between the period of 1996 to 2001, the headquarters of the Marine Parks Authority was located on the island.
The park covers an area of 14.53 km2 and is a sanctuary for sea turtles and seagrass. In fact, the protected area contains one of the largest areas of seagrass meadows in the granitic islands, a common feeding site for green turtles.
The marine park still boasts a number of attractions which are admired by the many visitors who flock to the park daily. Visitors can spot rays, sea turtles and even dolphins while kayaking, or snorkelling through the park.
Among those present for the activity were principal secretary for environment Denis Matatiken, general manager of Club Med Youssef Tobrouki, SPGA board members Lenny Gabriel and Myra Gill, district administrator for Mont Fleuri Steve Noel and NSC officials.
The accompanying photographs show some highlights of the activities on Ste Anne yesterday.
Photos by Joena Meme