The Republic of Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands within a rich tropical marine ecosystem in the Western Indian Ocean. The Seychelles’ Exclusive Economic Zone and Territorial Sea are 1.37 million square km, with a land area of only 455 squar km. The island ecosystems have high rates of species endemism and their global importance for marine biodiversity is highlighted by UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Aldabra Atoll UNESCO World Heritage Site. The marine waters support thousands of species of fish as well as regionally significant populations of seabirds and marine mammals.  The cold water water upwelling to the Mahe Plateau supports a rich ecosystem of sharks, pelagic fish, cetaceans and invertebrates.

Tourism and tuna fisheries are both vitally important to the economy, and Seychelles is a valuable partner in regional and global trade through shipping and international port facilities in Victoria on Mahe Island. The dropoff habitats leading from the Mahe Plateau are excellent for the local sport fishing and marine charter operators, and are also important for the semi-industrial longline and artisanal fisheries.  Seychelles and foreign owned tuna fishing vessels harvest four species of tuna in Seychelles’ waters using purse seine and longline vessels.  The unique geology of Seychelles is of interest to the petroleum sector, and seismic surveys have been undertaken to explore oil & gas potential.

Like other small island developing states (SIDS), Seychelles is concerned about the effects that increased storm frequency and rising sea levels may have on coastal areas.  In addition, coral bleaching from warm ocean temperatures dating back to the late 1980s threatens the beautiful coral reefs that provide valuable ecosystem services for people and their livelihoods, including artisanal fisheries and tourism.  The Blue Economy is an important roadmap for Seychelles to support its sustainable development goals, diversity its economy, and address climate change adaptation and ocean management.

Seychelles has committed to up to 30% marine protection of its waters and to develop a comprehensive marine spatial plan to ensure representative species and habitats have long-term protection, to improve resiliency of coastal ecosystems with a changing climate, and ensure economic opportunities for fisheries, tourism and other uses.

TNC’s Role

  • Financing
  • Process design and faciliation
  • Science and technical expertise
  • Stakeholder engagement

TNC completed the world’s first marine debt converstion aimed at ocean conservation and climate change adaptation with the Government of Seychelles and its Paris Club creditors in 2016.  TNC manages the MSP process that is a condition of this debt restruciuring, facilitates meetings with stakeholders and government officials, and manages communication materials including websites, information packets, and stakeholder comment logs. TNC also supports geospatial data management, analysis and cartographic outputs for the MSP process.

Project Partners

Lead Organization: Government of Seychelles

Other Partners: Government of Seychelles – UNDP GEF Programme Coordinating Unit


The Seychelles MSP Initiative is completing Phase 1, which began in February 2014.  The Phase 1 Seychelles Marine Spatial plan includes two new areas for marine protection, one that is a high biodiversity protected area and the other a medium biodiversity-sustainable use area. Together these new Marine Protected Areas cover more than 210,000 sq km, or 81,000 sq miles.

Phase 2 will begin in 2018 and continue until 2020. Phase 2 will identify the remaining waters to complete the 30% marine protection goal, and it will also include a completed marine spatial plan to for conservation and management of the full 1.37 million square km of ocean in Seychelles’ territory.

Fact Sheets and Project Links

Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan Initiative website

Photo credit: © Thomas P. Peschak/National Geographic Creative

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