Seychelles Becomes First African Nation to Ratify High Seas Treaty

Seychelles Becomes First African Nation to Ratify High Seas Treaty

In a significant stride towards global ocean conservation, Seychelles has emerged as the pioneer African nation and the third globally to ratify the groundbreaking High Seas Treaty. The ratification was achieved through a majority vote at Seychelles’ National Assembly last week, propelling the momentum for the treaty’s implementation. For the treaty to take effect, another 57 countries must also sign and ratify it.

Bernard Georges, the Leader of Government Business, elucidated the treaty’s primary objective while presenting it to the legislature. He emphasized the necessity to assume stewardship of the world’s oceans, safeguard marine environments, and preserve the integrity of undersea ecosystems and biodiversity.

As a legally binding instrument under the United Nations, the High Seas Treaty is poised to designate 30 percent of the globe’s oceans as protected areas, thereby safeguarding marine resources beyond national jurisdiction. Following its formal adoption by governments in June the previous year, the treaty was made available for state signatures on September 20.

Seychelles, as a small island developing nation situated in the Indian Ocean, anticipates substantial benefits from the treaty’s enforcement. With fisheries representing a crucial economic sector, second only to tourism, the country grapples with the detrimental impacts of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, primarily by foreign commercial fleets. Bernard Georges highlighted the urgency of addressing unsustainable fishing practices, which jeopardize fish stocks and exacerbate food insecurity risks, particularly in Seychelles, where over 90 percent of the territory comprises ocean.

In a proactive stance against maritime threats, Seychelles had previously joined the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FTI) in 2017, aiming to enhance transparency and inclusivity in fisheries management. Ratifying the High Seas Treaty is anticipated to fortify Seychelles’ defense against illicit maritime activities.

Seychelles has garnered acclaim as a stalwart advocate for ocean conservation, evidenced by its proactive measures. In 2020, the nation fulfilled its commitment to protect 30 percent of its marine waters, surpassing global standards. This achievement was realized through a debt-for-nature swap facilitated by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), leading to the designation of over 154,000 square miles as marine protected areas (MPAs), an expanse twice the size of Great Britain.

Source Maritime Executive

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