Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan (SMSP) Unit

The SMSP Unit is an Interim Governance Structure within the Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment (MACCE). It falls under the Principal Secretary of Environment’s Office. The small team is headed by a Principal Project Coordinator with posts pertaining to legal, protected area, capacity building and outreach portfolios respectively. The key role or function of the SOA is to coordinate the implementation of the Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan (SMSP). This includes but is not limited to oversight, monitoring and evaluation, provision of guidance and education and awareness. The unit is expected to transition to a legally mandated agency in the medium-term future.

Basic background

In 2012, the Government of Seychelles made a bold commitment to protect 30% (over 400,000 km2) of its 1.35 million square kilometer (km2) Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). This commitment was made at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. The declaration for the large expansion of marine protected area from 0.04% to 30% was enabled by a highly innovative debt-for-nature swap agreement.

In order to facilitate and honor commitments made, the Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan (SMSP) Initiative was officially launched in 2014. The SMSP Initiative is a government-led process, with planning and facilitation led by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in partnership with GoS-UNDP-GEF Programme Coordinating Unit (PCU) and Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT).

The purpose of the SMSP is to protect and preserve Seychelles’ biodiversity hotspots while ensuring sustainable economic development in its EEZ. The plan is in accordance with international best practices, as it employs an ecosystem-based approach and a public, transparent and participatory process. Over 150 stakeholders from 12 marine sectors and civil society have participated in the process.

Implementation of this spatial plan and the management of these protection areas will require significant additional effort, investment, and increased capacity to realize their conservation and sustainable use objectives. Thus, a coordinating agency is necessary to enable effective coordination, monitoring and evaluation, adaptive management, and the realization of the SMSP’s strategic objectives.

An Interim Governance Structure, the SMSP unit, was developed to oversee the initial roll out of the SMSP and the coordination between the Ministry of Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment (MACCE), implementing partners, and other relevant stakeholders.

The establishment of the SMSP unit is being facilitated by SeyCCAT via private donor funding from the Blue Nature Alliance (BNA).

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