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Ministers’ Message for World Ocean Day

This year’s World Ocean Day is being celebrated under the theme, ‘The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods’. This theme is quite fitting since us, the Seychellois nation and those like us, fully depend on the oceans resources for our bread and butter. Both tourism and fisheries are the pillars of the economy. The ocean is indeed vast and without bounds, such that it is the global heritage of all nations and its health could be impacted by all of our individual actions both on land and at sea.  Moreover, our global interconnectedness and the central role that the ocean plays in our planet’s existence, makes it so that the negative impacts on the ocean would be felt across the four corners of the world. It is therefore only appropriate that we; Governments, private sectors, civil societies, Seychellois citizens and citizens of other nations at large, all take our responsibility. For it is only through combined individual efforts; no matter how small it may seem, and joint actions that we could really make a difference and secure our future.

The World Ocean Day this year is particularly special, as it is the first one to be celebrated during the Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, or the Ocean Decade for short, which calls for coordinated, global actions across societal sectors to facilitate the positive shift in our perspectives of oceans.

For so long, the ocean has been sustaining human existence, from its remarkable role as a core climate regulator to its fundamental role in the facilitation of global trade and other key socio-economic activities. Yet for too long, the ocean and many of its resources have been plagued by the adverse effects of our unsustainable socio-economic exploits, and irresponsible, thoughtless acts of pollution.

Our future is threatened because our oceans are being threatened, which is why in commemoration of this year’s World Ocean Day, the accent is being placed on the call for support of the global movement to protect at least 30% of our ocean or blue planet by 2030 (“30×30”). It is pleasing to note that Seychelles through its Marine Spatial Plan initiative has already designated 30% of its EEZ for protection, a noble gesture that goes a long way in advancing this global target. However, this is not enough; we have to convince others to do the same within state boundaries and also focus our attention on protection of the ocean beyond national jurisdiction, especially the unsustainable and destructive practices that many countries perpetrate on the high seas. The global target for protection applies to our entire ocean, which is one interconnected system. Whatever our interest in the ocean, and wherever we operate we must all do our bit to save our 30%, and to strive to be more environmentally conscious in our daily individual actions and more prudent, clever and innovative in our socio-economic pursuits.

The ocean has been identified as the pathway for our sustainable development for it presents an array of opportunities for our socio-economic progression; so long as we maintain our environmental integrity.

The ocean is our past, present and future; it is up to every one of us to make a change in our daily routine in order to mould the kind of ocean and the kind of future that we want to have.