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Seychelles Protects Sea to Pay Debts

Victoria, Seychelles —(Map)

Seychelles, a small island nation near Africa, has found a new way to pay the money it owes. It will protect the sea.

Like many countries, Seychelles owes a lot of money. It has borrowed money in the past and now it needs to pay it back. Money that is owed is called “debt”.

Groups that want to protect the sea worked with Seychelles to make a plan. Seychelles agreed to protect some large areas of the sea, and it will not have to pay almost $22 million of its debt.

View of the Aldabra Atoll from the air.
The Aldabra Atoll is at the heart of one of the new marine parks.
(Source: Simisa, via Wikimedia Commons.)

To protect the sea, Seychelles has made two large protected areas, called marine parks. Together, these marine parks are bigger than 80,000 square miles. This area is bigger than some countries. In one of the parks it will be against the law to take anything out. That means no fishing and no drilling for oil. In the other park, they will try to protect the sea by limiting fishing and other activities.

Seychelles is famous for its beautiful oceans, which have many different species (kinds of animals and plants). But people fished too much there. They caught too many fish and also trapped other animals, like turtles and dolphins, by accident. People hope that protecting these areas will help fish and other ocean life.

A spinner dolphin jumps from the water.
Spinner Dolphins will be protected by the new marine parks.
(Source: Bennet Gevers, via Wikimedia Commons.)

Seychelles is a group of 115 islands, so most of its area is ocean. The most important businesses in Seychelles are fishing and people visiting the islands (tourism). This deal will protect about 15% of its ocean. If the plan continues, Seychelles will double that area by 2020. This will mean that 30% of Seychelle’s seas will be protected.

The group The Nature Conservancy (TNC), which works to protect nature, helped make the deal. They got people to donate (give) money to help pay off some of the debt that Seychelles owed. The actor, Leonardo DiCaprio, for example, gave $1 million. Mr. DiCaprio said that the marine parks “… mean that all species living in these waters…are now far better shielded (protected) from overfishing, pollution, and climate change.”

Blacktip reef sharks in water in front of small boat.
These Blacktip reef sharks will be protected by the new deal. Not all fishermen believe the idea will work.
(Source: Ron Van Oers, via Wikimedia Commons.)

If the plan works, it should make Seychelles a more beautiful place for tourists to visit. It will also mean that there are more fish available for people who fish for a living. Many other countries are watching. They hope that their countries might be able to pay some of their debts the same way.

But not everyone is sure the idea will work. Some local fishermen are worried that they will lose their way of earning money. Other people are afraid that the Seychelles government will change their minds and let companies drill oil in the reserves (marine parks).


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