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Blue Economy: Keeping Seychelles “Paradise on Earth” Sustainably

Seychelles is home to an array of wildlife, including giant tortoises and sea turtles. Much of the land is protected as part of nature reserves. Climate change adaptation, including through strengthened disaster preparedness systems and enhanced coastal management, is  key to development in the country.

In Seychelles, key opportunities include high-value tourism; greater value addition in fisheries through nontraditional shrimp production, seaweed cultivation, and processing for regional and global markets, all supporting a sustainable blue economy; and efficient financial services and information and communication technology. Strong FDI inflows, especially in hospitality, also boost the economy.

Tourism has roared back at a record pace setting successive records in 2006 and again in 2007 for number of visitors. The increased availability of flights to and from the archipelago due in part to new entrants Emirates and Qatar airlines is also beginning to show. New 5 star properties and the devaluation of the currency by nearly 33% by the Seychelles Government is having a positive influence on the tourism sector as well.

There are 29 coral islands in the Amirantes group, west of the granitics: Desroches, Poivre Atoll (comprising 3 islands : Poivre, Florentin and South Island), Alphonse, D’Arros, St. Joseph Atoll (comprising 14 islands: St. Joseph Ile aux Fouquets, Ressource, Petit Carcassaye, Grand Carcassaye, Benjamin, Bancs Ferrari, Chiens, Pélicans, Vars, Ile Paul, Banc de Sable, Banc aux Cocos and Ile aux Poules), Marie Louise, Desnoeufs, African Banks (comprising 2 islands: African Banks and South Island), Rémire, St. François, Boudeuse, Etoile, Bijoutier.

Also, there are 13 coral islands in the Farquhar Group, south-south west of the Amirantes: Farquhar Atoll (comprising 10 islands: Bancs de Sable Déposés Ile aux Goëlettes Lapins Ile du Milieu North Manaha South Manaha Middle Manaha North Island and South Island), Providence Atoll (comprising two islands: Providence and Bancs Providence) and St Pierre.

Seychelles Economic Statistics

There are 67 raised coral islands in the Aldabra Group, west of the Farquhar Group: Aldabra Atoll (comprising 46 islands: Grande Terre, Picard, Polymnie, Malabar, Ile Michel, Ile Esprit, Ile aux Moustiques, Ilot Parc, Ilot Emile, Ilot Yangue, Ilot Magnan, Ile Lanier, Champignon des Os, Euphrate, Grand Mentor, Grand Ilot, Gros Ilot Gionnet, Gros Ilot Sésame, Heron Rock, Hide Island, Ile aux Aigrettes, Ile aux Cèdres, Iles Chalands, Ile Fangame, Ile Héron, Ile Michel, Ile Squacco, Ile Sylvestre, Ile Verte, Ilot Déder, Ilot du Sud, Ilot du Milieu, Ilot du Nord, Ilot Dubois, Ilot Macoa, Ilot Marquoix, Ilots Niçois, Ilot Salade, Middle Row Island, Noddy Rock, North Row Island, Petit Mentor, Petit Mentor Endans, Petits Ilots, Pink Rock and Table Ronde), Assumption, Astove and Cosmoledo Atoll (comprising 19 islands: Menai, Ile du Nord (West North), Ile Nord-Est (East North), Ile du Trou, Goëlettes, Grand Polyte, Petit Polyte, Grand Ile (Wizard), Pagode, Ile du Sud-Ouest (South), Ile aux Moustiques, Ile Baleine, Ile aux Chauve-Souris, Ile aux Macaques, Ile aux Rats, Ile du Nord-Ouest, Ile Observation, Ile Sud-Est and Ilot la Croix).

The granitic islands of Seychelles are home to about 75 endemic plant species, with a further 25 or so species in the Aldabra group. Particularly well-known is the Coco de mer, a species of palm that grows only on the islands of Praslin and neighbouring Curieuse. Sometimes nicknamed the ‘love nut’ because of its suggestive shape, the coco-de-mer is the world’s largest seed. The jellyfish tree is to be found in only a few locations today. This strange and ancient plant has resisted all efforts to propagate it. Other unique plant species include the Wrights Gardenia found only on Aride Island Special Reserve.

The giant tortoises from Aldabra now populate many of the islands of the Seychelles. The Aldabra population is the largest in the world. These unique reptiles can be found even in captive herds. It has been reported that the granitic islands of Seychelles supported distinct species of Seychelles giant tortoises, the status of the different populations is currently unclear.

Seychelles hosts some of the largest seabird colonies in the world. Islands such as Bird, Aride Island, Cousin, Aldabra and Cosmoledo host many species of seabirds including the sooty tern, fairy tern, white-tailed tropicbird, noddies and frigatebirds. Aride Island has more species of seabird and greater numbers than the other 40 granite islands combined including the world’s largest colony of Audubon’s Shearwater and Lesser Noddy.

The marine life around the islands, especially the more remote coral islands, can be spectacular. More than 1000 species of fish have been recorded. Since the use of spearguns and dynamite for fishing was banned through efforts of local conservationists in the 1960s, the wildlife is unafraid of snorkelers and divers. Coral bleaching in 1998 has unfortunately damaged most reefs, but some reefs show healthy recovery (for instance, Silhouette Island). The reefs comprise a vast selection of soft corals and hard corals alike. There is great diving and snorkeling opportunity. The taking of marine turtles was completely stopped in 1994, turtle populations are now recovering on several protected islands, most notably Cousin Island, Aride Island, Silhouette Island and Aldabra. However, they continue to decline at unprotected sites. The use of gill nets for shark fishing as well as the practice of shark finning are now banned.

Beginning at the turn of the millennium the Seychelles Petroleum Company (SEPEC) started to develop the first fleet of modern Petroleum double-hull tankers (five vessels), which was completed by late 2007/early 2008 with the possibility to build more in the near future. The Seychelles government claims that this has opened the door to a new industry for his country and encouraged economic growth by further removing over-reliance on traditional trades like fisheries and tourism which is now falling rapidly as the country’s main income but nevertheless, has experienced significant growth in recent years.

The country’s lack of land as well as its physical remoteness will continue to constrain Seychelles’ growth prospects. New offshore hydrocarbon discoveries and installation of floating solar panels are likely to reduce Seychelles’ dependence on energy imports and boost its economic diversification.

To date, has designated 26 percent of its territorial waters as marine protection areas under the debt for conservation finance deal with The Nature Conservancy. Meanwhile, the government has offered exploration tenders for offshore deep-water blocks along the Seychelles-Mascarene Ridge Basin, containing an estimated 797 million barrels of oil, and has signed production agreements with two oil companies, PetroQuest International and East African Exploration. Exploration will likely be tightly regulated.

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