SDG 14: LIFE BELOW THE WATER
The United Nations has chosen 17 sustainable development goals to transform our world by 2030; these include ending poverty to protecting oceans and rainforests. The reason for such goals is perfectly stated by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with his statement: "there can be no Plan B, because there is no Planet B," so sustainability is not just an aim but a need for our future.
Goal 14 is “Life Below Water,” means the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
The goal fits perfectly with the Seychelles’ ideals and beliefs. Our country is made of 99.9% of ocean, which is filled with healthy underwater ecosystems that we benefit from, as seen in our main economic activities of fishing, tourism and shipping. Goal 14 is seen in all aspects of Seychelles society: economically, legally and socially.
For example, Seychelles’ current Blue Economy plan for the future embodies such a goal, as it aims to “utilise oceanic resources and coastal areas to create economic growth, whilst reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.” Though the economic plan is still at the beginning stage, business activities in line with the plan have increased. Aquaculture is being promoted and planned, and near the implementation stage, as we speak. Eco-friendly businesses such as plastic recycling are on the rise, which reduces marine litter in the long term.
Legally, Seychelles has gone through efforts to protect marine life. For example, it has six national marine parks: Baie Ternay, Curieuse, Ile Coco, Port Launay, Silhouette Island and Sainte Anne Island. However, this is only 1% of Seychelles’ 1.3 million square km EEZ whilst more than 50% terrestrial territory is protected nature reserves, but the government is aiming to increase the percentage of protected marine areas. Furthermore, there are laws in place to protect marine life as well for example, sea turtle and whale sharks, are protected animals in Seychelles territory and it is against the law to injure them.
Moreover, the majority of Seychelles population is environmentally-conscious, which I am fortunate to be part of. From children to adults, there is an unspoken rule of caring for the marine wildlife. Tourists who hope to bring back a live souvenir from their snorkels will be met with kind but firm warnings from the locals. There are frequent education programmes to teach the young generation the need for sustainable use of oceanic resources and protection of marine life, for example the ‘Academy by the Sea’ program by Save Our Seas Foundation. It is almost a rarity for a school to NOT have some sort of environment club. There are frequent events throughout the year in Seychelles that highlights the importance of the ocean like the Seychelles Ocean Festival. However, there is always room for improvement: reducing plastic use to reduce the amount that ends in the oceans – and ultimately in the fish that we consume every day, spreading awareness of the need for marine conservation to others … I will leave that up to you readers to discover and improve.