24.04.18 Seychelles to Assist Mauritius' Rodrigues Island With Sustainable Coral Management

This exchange is possible through a programme where the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) has developed a guide for its member states on how to manage its coastal zones. Rodrigues Island is an autonomous outer island of the Republic of Mauritius.

Allen Cedras, Inter-Island Manager from the National Parks Authority, said this is the first time that such a guide is developed.

The guide -- bonne pratiques de gestion intégrée des zones côtières or good integrated management practices for coastal areas -- is in French and English. It is a result of the coastal zone management project started three years ago.

"The aim of the project is to make the neighbouring islands more aware of the need to manage coastal zones," explained Cedras.

The Indian Ocean Commission, or Commission de l'Océan Indien (COI), is an intergovernmental organisation that was created in 1982 at Port Louis, Mauritius and institutionalized in 1984 by the Victoria Agreement in Seychelles.

The COI is composed of five African Indian Ocean nations: Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Reunion and Seychelles.

The five have different characteristics: Reunion as a French overseas region; Mauritius and Seychelles are Middle-Income Countries, whereas Comoros and Madagascar are among the Least-Developed Countries. But the five island nations share geographic proximity, historical and demographic relationships, natural resources and common development issues.

Cedras said that the islands have compiled their best practices into a guide, which the islands can benefit from.

"For instance, a good practice from Madagascar could actually be good for Seychelles as well. But if we had not done this guide, we would not have known," said Cedras.

Cedras said that what can be shared through the guide does not relate only to the environment but has to do with agriculture as well as eco-tourism but all these are linked to conservation.

"Again Madagascar has a vast forest of mangroves compared to us. Through this project, we have learned how Madagascar is using their mangroves to benefit the community. For example, crabs are grown in these forests and are later sold. This is extracting the mangroves in a sustainable manner," explained the manager.

Cedras said that Seychelles - a group of islands in the western Indian Ocean - also considered a champion in environmental issues, has used its success stories in the field of marine management.

"What Seychelles has shared in the guide is how we are using money raised from the national parks to sustain these protected areas. We have also shared how buoys can help to protect coral reefs," adds Cedras.

The management of its reef is what Seychelles will share with Rodrigues Island. "The team will leave in May and we will show them how in the most sustainable and simple manner they can install these buoys which will stop the corals from being destroyed," said Cedras.

Cedras adds that "the Seychellois will also share their knowledge on how to manage marine parks as we are more advanced and experienced."

Another area which Cedras feels that Seychelles can benefit with this guide has to do with reforestation of areas affected by forest fires.

"We tend to use saplings propagated from our nursery to plant in these areas, but we have seen on the Madagascar island of St Marie, endemics are planted with fertilisers and propagated on these sites," explained Cedras.

Over 100 good practices were submitted for the guide. But only those which were considered could be adapted in all countries of the Indian Ocean Commission were used.

Cedras said that the guide will now be put online so that each focal person in each island member state can create a network and share these good practices with other partners.

The Indian Ocean Commission's principal mission is to strengthen the ties of friendship between the countries and to be a platform of solidarity for the entire population of the African Indian Ocean region.

COI's mission also includes development, through projects related to sustainability for the region, aimed at protecting the region, improving the living conditions of the populations and preserving the various natural resources that the countries depend on.


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