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High Seas Treaty to Save Fisheries in Small Island Nations

High Seas Treaty to Save Fisheries in Small Island Nations

Seychelles has emerged as a global leader in ocean conservation by becoming the first African nation and third country worldwide to ratify the historic High Seas Treaty. The National Assembly of Seychelles overwhelmingly approved the treaty last week, marking a significant step towards safeguarding the country’s fisheries and marine ecosystems.

The High Seas Treaty, adopted by governments in 2023, establishes a crucial legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ). “This is a critical moment for ocean governance,” declared Bernard Georges, Leader of Government Business in Seychelles, while presenting the treaty. He emphasized the treaty’s role in ensuring “better stewardship of the world’s oceans and the health of marine ecosystems for generations to come.”

Protecting a Cornerstone of the Economy

For island nations like Seychelles, where fisheries represent the second pillar of the economy after tourism, healthy fish stocks are essential. Unfortunately, illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing by foreign fleets has severely depleted these vital resources.

“Two-thirds of fish stocks in international waters are being harvested unsustainably,” warned Georges. He painted a stark picture of the consequences of inaction: “Unless we act now, these stocks will collapse, leading to food insecurity for many countries.”

The High Seas Treaty, once it enters into force, will designate 30% of the world’s oceans as protected areas, offering much-needed safeguards for fish populations in ABNJ.

A History of Leading by Example

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Seychelles boasts a long-standing commitment to ocean conservation. In 2017, the nation joined the Fisheries Transparency Initiative to promote responsible fishing practices. More recently, through a debt-for-nature swap with The Nature Conservancy, Seychelles achieved its goal of protecting 30% of its own marine waters, establishing over 154,000 square miles of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

By ratifying the High Seas Treaty, Seychelles hopes to inspire other countries to join the movement for sustainable ocean management. With 57 more ratifications needed for the treaty to take effect, Seychelles’ leadership role will be crucial in ensuring a healthy future for our oceans.

MMJ News Desk
Author: MMJ News Desk

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