WASHINGTON, September 29, 2017 – Today, the World Bank approved a package of over $20 million for the Republic of the Seychelles to improve the conservation of its marine resources and expand seafood value chains.
The package consists of a loan of $5 million from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and a grant of $5.29 million from the Global Environment Facility (GEF). In addition, a guarantee of EUR5 million from the IBRD and a credit of $5 million from the GEF’s Non-Grant Instrument Pilot will enable the future issuance of the world’s first Blue Bond by Seychelles. The Blue Bond is expected to mobilize public and private investments to finance the country’s transition to sustainable fisheries.
“Improving the management of fisheries and marine resources will contribute to achieving the Blue Economy strategy of the Seychelles. The overarching goals are to diversify the economy, create high value jobs, ensure food security, while sustainably managing and protecting marine resources,” said Mark Lundell, World Bank Country Director for Seychelles.
It is the first World Bank project in Seychelles in more than 30 years. It is part of the third phase of the South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Governance and Shared Growth Program (SWIOFish) that aims to increase the economic, social, and environmental benefits from sustainable fisheries. It intends to make Seychelles’ fisheries sector investment ready by designing turn-key financial mechanisms.
“Faced with the need to preserve our comparative advantage in natural capital for future generations, we adopted a marine conservation strategy which commits to protects 30 percent of our exclusive economic zone by 2020. We have already initiated a marine spatial planning exercise to expand protected areas and a fisheries management plan for the Mahé Plateau to progressively move from an open-access fishery to a more controlled fishery. SWIOFish3 will support us in achieving these goals,” said Vincent Meriton, Vice-President, Republic of Seychelles.
Seychelles is an archipelago consisting of 115 granite and coral islands with an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of approximately 1.4 million km2, almost 3,000 times the size of its land area. It is one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, with an extremely rich marine and terrestrial biodiversity. Fisheries is the second most important sector after tourism, contributing 20 % to the GDP and employing 17% of the population. Seychelles is also a major seafood processing hub. In 2014, the export of consumable fish and fish products made up 96% of the total value of domestic exports. However, pressures from the fisheries and tourism sectors on coastal and marine natural resources are reaching unsustainable levels. The country is now refocusing its development around a sustainable blue economy.
“Our long-term support to the SWIOFish program has strengthened fisheries management and value chains in the South West Indian Ocean. This third phase will focus on the Seychelles and eventually deliver the world’s first Blue Bond – a significant milestone in our long-standing support for ocean conservation. The GEF is proud to invest in developing national blue economies that will protect our oceans for economic growth, improved livelihoods, jobs and secure healthy ocean ecosystems for future generations,” said Gustavo Fonseca, GEF Director of Programs.