Seychelles: Environmental Law Context Report

JUDICIAL ENVIRONMENTAL LAW TRAINING

AUGUST 2019

 

Country Context Report

Seychelles

 

A series of extracts and resources compiled by Tariro Kamuti, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Global Risk Governance Programme, University of Cape Town, with supervision from Amy Sinclair, Managing Editor of the African Legal Information Institute (AfricanLII).

9 September 2019

Contents

1       Sources of environmental law in Seychelles. 2

A      Domestic constitution and legislation. 2

B       Domestic executive decision-making. 3

2       Environmental law topics in Seychelles. 4

A      Energy, minerals and extractives. 5

B       Coastal, marine and fisheries. 7

C       Agriculture, plants and forestry. 8

D      Climate change, natural disasters and air quality. 10

E       Wildlife. 11

F       Protected areas. 12

G      African customary law and rights of indigenous peoples. 13

 

 

1     Sources of environmental law in Seychelles

A      Domestic constitution and legislation

This is a non-exhaustive list of the most important legislation affecting environmental law issues in Seychelles.

Legislation title and URL

Constitution of the Republic of Seychelles adopted June 18, 1993; amended 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000.

Article 38 of the Constitution of the Republic of Seychelles says:

The State recognises the right of every person to live in and enjoy a clean, healthy and

ecologically balanced environment and with a view to ensuring the effective realisation

of this right the State undertakes -

a. to take measures to promote the protection, preservation and improvement of the

environment;

b. to ensure a sustainable socio-economic development of Seychelles by a judicious use

and management of the resources of Seychelles;

c. to promote public awareness of the need to protect, preserve and improve the environment.

Article 40 of the Constitution of the Republic of Seychelles provides for fundamental duties one of which is article 40(e) that is “to protect, preserve and improve the environment”.


Animal and Plant Biosecurity Act, 2014

Environment Protection Act, 1995

National Parks and Nature Conservancy Act, 1969

Export of Fishery Products Act, 1996 

Pesticides Control Act, 1996

Wild Animals and Birds Protection Act, 1961

Plant Protection Act, 1996

Removal of Sand and Gravel Act, 1982

Dumping at Sea Act 1974 (Overseas Territories) Order 1975

Fisheries Act, 2014 

Petroleum Mining Act, 1976

Minerals Act, 1962

Petroleum Mining (Pollution and Control) Act

Beach Control Act, 1971

State Land and River Reserves Act, 1903

Lighting of Fires (Restriction) Act, 1940

Maritime Zones Act, 1999

Coast Reserves and Foreshore Leases Act, 1907

Merchant Shipping (Oil Pollution) (Seychelles) Order 1975

B      Domestic executive decision-making

Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change[1]

Minister

Principal Secretary: The Environment Department 

Principal Secretary: The Energy and Climate Change Department, also responsible for the Project Coordination Unit

Director General: Climate Change Division

Director General: Public Education and Community Outreach Division

Director General: Biodiversity Conservation and Management Division

Director: Waste Enforcement and Permit Division

Project Coordinator: United Nations Development Programme – Global Environmental Fund

Principal Policy Analyst: Energy Division

Chief Executive Officer: Seychelles National Park Authority

Chief Executive Officer: Public Utilities Cooperation

Chief Executive Officer: Land Waste Management and Agency

Chief Executive Officer: Seychelles Energy Commission

Chief Executive Officer: National Botanical Garden Foundation

Chief Executive Officer: Seychelles Meteorological Authority

 

Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries[2]

Minister

Principal Secretary

Chief Executive Officer: Seychelles Agricultural Agency

Chief Executive Officer: Seychelles Fishing Authority

 

Ministry of Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports & Marine[3]

Minister

Principal Secretary

2     Environmental law topics in Seychelles

Seychelles’ Basic Country Information

The country of Seychelles “is an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, off East Africa. It's home to numerous beaches, coral reefs and nature reserves, as well as rare animals such as giant Aldabra tortoises. Mahé, a hub for visiting the other islands, is home to capital Victoria. It also has the mountain rainforests of Morne Seychellois National Park and beaches, including Beau Vallon and Anse Takamaka. The granite Inner Islands include Praslin, with the renowned Anse Georgette beach, studded with sculpted rock formations. Seychelles Black Parrots are found in the Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve. On laid-back La Digue, bicycles are the main mode of transport, and rare birds inhabit the Veuve Nature Reserve. The remote and largely uninhabited Outer Islands are coral atolls and sand cays, such as Alphonse and Desroches, accessed by light plane or boat.”[4]

The country “has been endowed with a very unique and rich biodiversity and diverse land and seascapes of outstanding beauty, which as we develop needs to be protected and conserve.  Our marine and green spaces provide the country with ecological services, i.e. a mild climate, water, natural resources and limited occurrence of disasters; all vital for our survival as a viable state. With the onslaught of climate change Seychelles like many island states has to prepare itself by building resilience against the impact of climate change. Water and Energy for all has been one of the key policies of the government for many years.  Our challenge for the future is to accelerate the absorption of renewable energy and introduce nationwide energy efficiency measures including the regulation of the standard of electric appliances entering the country. The work of the Ministry [of Environment, Energy and Climate Change] is governed by the Seychelles Sustainable Development Strategy 2012-2020, the National Waste Strategy,[5] the National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan, the Climate Change Strategy, the National Energy Policy, the Water Master Plan and other policy documents.”[6] The Seychelles are cumulative land mass of islands of covering 455.3 km² which are spread across 1,400,000 km² of sea with approximately 212.39 km² of land area being protected in addition to about 307 km2 of the ocean.[7]

A      Energy, minerals and extractives

Energy Policy for the Republic of Seychelles 2010-2030[8]

“The Seychelles Energy Policy for 2010-2030 was formally approved by the Cabinet and adopted as official government policy in 2010. It recommends a sustainable development of the energy sector focusing on energy efficiency, renewable energy and reducing the dependence on oil to improve energy security. With an aim to diversify the energy supply, a 5% and 15% share of renewable energy is targeted for 2020 and 2030 respectively. The Energy Policy includes significant analysis of historical, existing and projected energy demand and supply, and proposes key changes to the institutional and regulatory framework for energy in the country, including strengthening the Seychelles Energy Commission, the creation of an independent energy regulator, and clearly defined IPP regulations to promote renewable energy development. The Energy Policy also represents the first formal recognition by the Government of Seychelles of the importance of renewable energy production. On the other hand, the Energy Policy is not a traditional policy or planning document and does not provide detailed targets, methods, or timeframes for instituting changes to energy management in the country. Four renewable energy technologies are identified that may be appropriate in the country: solar PV, wind, micro-hydro, and biomass/municipal solid waste. The Energy Policy includes significant analysis of historical, existing and projected energy demand and supply, and proposes key changes to the institutional and regulatory framework for energy in the country, including strengthening the Seychelles Energy Commission, the creation of an independent energy regulator, and clearly defined IPP regulations to promote renewable energy development.” The country committed to limit fuel imports, increase the proportion of renewable energy to 15% by the 2030.[9] In that regard, as of 2014 wind energy contributed 2.2% of the country’s energy consumption.[10] Trough funding from Government of the United Arab Emirates, they set up a wind farm plant made up of 8 wind turbines with an output of 6 megawatts adequate to power about 2 200 homes.[11] In 2014, Seychelles also received co-funding from the United Nations Development Programme - Global Environment Facility (UNDP-GEF) to install a solar energy plant with a capacity of 750 kilowatts.[12]

Through its Seychelles Waste Management Policy, Seychelles has planned to build a waste management plant that will retrieve energy from solid waste while simultaneously curtail the need for landfill sites.[13] Through the implementation of the Seychelles Sustainable Development Strategy, renewable energy and waste treatment are pivotal in stimulating recycling and lowering waste.[14]

Mineral extraction and mining are controlled under the Mineral Act of 1962 while mining of beach sand is governed by Removal of Sand and Gravel Act of 1982.[15] The Petroleum Mining Act of 1976, the Seychelles Petroleum (Taxation) Act of 2008 and the Seychelles Petroleum (Taxation) (Amendment) Act of 2013, are the laws used to regulate the petroleum sector.[16] The country mainly produces “clay for bricks, crushed stone, granite dimension stone, salt, and sand.”[17]

B      Coastal, marine and fisheries

The country has rich marine ecosystems, “with over 1000 species of fish of which 400 are confined to reef, 55 species of sea anemones, 300 Scleractinian corals, 150 species of echinoderms and 350 species of sponges.”[18] The country’s coastal areas are important in shielding the country against natural forces like “storm-surges, tsunamis, strong winds and other unannounced adverse weather patterns”, while they are susceptible to human and natural caused that disturb the sand dunes and harm to wildlife.[19] The Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change assists to “protect those natural barriers of the coastline by promoting awareness and the implementation of effective storm water management, flood control, and coastal zone management practices. It enforces legislations, engage stakeholders and undertake specific actions through projects to ensure that vulnerable coastlines and beach fronts are managed and used in a sustainable manner.”[20]

Seychelles is participating in a project overseen by the Nairobi Convention Secretariat called the Strategic Action Programme for the protection of the Western Indian Ocean from land-based sources and activities (WIO-SAP).[21] This project aims to, “to reduce impacts from land-based sources and activities and sustainably manage critical coastal-riverine ecosystems through the implementation of the WIO-SAP priorities with the support of partnerships at national and regional levels”.[22] As part of SADC, Seychelles is also bound by the SADC Protocol on Transboundary Water Resources which seeks to harmonise national water use policies and also mediate transboundary water issues.[23] In the efforts to control pollution of its water and marine resources, Seychelles has 1995 developed Solid Waste Master Plan (SWMP) which is now part of its Seychelles Waste Management Policy.[24] Seychelles has registered innovative achievements in marine protection through opening frontiers of marine protection equivalent to 16 per cent (210,000 square kilometres) of the country’s ocean since February 2018. This is part of the Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan which is only second to Norway but the first such kind of a plan in the Indian Ocean.[25]

C      Agriculture, plants and forestry

The Seychelles became the second country to accede to and being a party to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1992.[26] An important development is that “the Government of Seychelles has thus far, designated 47% of its land territory as nature reserves with several marine protected areas as its contribution to fulfill its obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to ensure conservation of the archipelago’s biodiversity for the well-being of present and future Seychellois generations and visitors to the islands.”[27] The country’s flora is made up of 250 indigenous plant species, with 85% of them found in national parks and 750 exotic plant species.[28] Seychelles has a combination of forests and commercial plantations that cover more than 80% of its terrestrial ecosystems[29] with a coverage of 40,600 ha.[30]

Wetlands made up of mangroves, marshes and rivers on the three major islands of Mahé, Praslin and La Digue are vital ecosystems of Seychelles.[31] The country crafted the National Wetland Conservation and Management policy which is aimed to “regulate the developments in and around the wetland areas and support EIA [Environmental Impact Assessment] process through its classification system.”[32] In the same vein, “since 2004 the Seychelles has become member of the International Ramsar convention on Wetlands and so far has declared three Ramsar sites of wetlands of international importance from Seychelles. Port Launay – Port Glaud coastal wetland areas, Mare Aux Cochons high altitude wetland areas, and Aldabra Atoll – a UNESCO World Heritage site as the third one. Protection of those sites are of international significance.”[33] The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Forestry was agreed on in 2002, though it came into effect in 2009, but as of May 2017, Seychelles had not ratified the protocol.[34] Seychelles has put in place mechanisms to take care of biosecurity and Invasive Alien Species (IAS) on its territory and there is a detailed report on biosecurity protocols.[35] The textbox below is a snapshot of some of the policies and legislation to that effect.[36] There is an observation by the Food and Agricultural Organisation that Seychelles does not have an “explicit forest policy”, though responsible government departments are said to “have been following an implied policy of cautious forest utilization and afforestation of all barren areas whenever the resources allow.”[37] This policy is argued to have resulted in sustainable, though not financially viable in public forests but government controls 23 commercial species in privately owned forest with a plan to extend the list and create another one that caters for indigenous trees species.[38] The country had a Plant Conservation Research Agenda for the period 2008-2015 to drive “plant research into a more structured and comprehensive system”.[39]

 

National policies and legislation related to biosecurity and Invasive Alien Species[40]

D      Climate change, natural disasters and air quality

As part of the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) which are more susceptible to climate change, Seychelles has a National Climate Change Strategy which was crafted in 2009 in conjunction with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (NFCCC), that sought to ensure a well-coordinated intervention to climate change.[41] This has been out of a realisation that, “climate change impact on coral reefs and fisheries, through warming of the ocean and ocean acidification are threats that would undermine food security and livelihood in SIDS.”[42] Seychelles is running an ecosystem-based climate change adaptation project to mitigate its susceptibility to climate change, by mainly focusing on drought and flooding.[43]

E      Wildlife

The fauna that is endemic to the country include 12 bird species that face a global threat, “4 endemic bat species, 7 endemic caecilians, 5 endemic frog species, 2 freshwater fish, 2 sub species of terrapins with more than 20 lizards of which 14 species and subspecies are endemics.  The arthropods are equally diverse represented by a diversity of insects, scorpions, spiders and fruits flies, many of which are endemic.”[44] Seychelles is part of the Bonn Convention on the conservation of migratory species of wild animals.[45] Seychelles is also part of the 1999 SADC Protocol on Wildlife Conservation and Law Enforcement which seeks to, “to establish a common framework for conservation and sustainable use of wildlife in the region.”[46] Wildlife conservation is carried in conjunction with the Seychelles’ Protected Areas Policy which is built on earlier institutional interventions that led to the promulgation of many national parks.[47] Seychelles possesses a diverse range of unique wildlife species which makes it a biodiversity hot-spot and a zone of global significance.[48] Nature conservation entities blend nature conservation with ecotourism in order to support ecosystem rehabilitation efforts.[49]

Due to high levels of endemism[50] the country has a long list of endangered species found on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List that are faced with external factors such as climate change coupled with human-induced factors including invasive species.[51] The following extract shows these high levels of endemism and some of the critically endangered species:

The granitic islands of Seychelles have around 75 endemic plant species, with Silhouette island a particular centre of diversity, and around 25 more endemic species are found in the Aldabra group.  More species are continually being discovered, and these are generally very rare. Critically endangered plant species include the jellyfish tree Medusagynae oppositifolia, the Seychelles balsam Impatiens gordinii, and Wright’s gardenia Rothmannia annae, which is found only on Aride island. Endangered species include the orchid Hederorkis seychellensis. The well-known Coco de Mer, incorrectly named Lodoicea maldivica but which actually grows only on the islands of Praslin and Curieuse, as considered Vulnerable, due mainly to poaching activities (the giant nuts are valuable in producing kernel (which is considered an aphrodisiac in oriental medicine) and the dried nuts are sold to tourists as a curiosity. Endemic bird species at risk include the Seychelles black parrot – found only on Praslin and Curieuse and recently recognised as a distinct species – Seychelles magpie robin, Seychelles paradise flycatcher, Seychelles fody, Seychelles scops owl, Seychelles white-eye, Seychelles swiftlet, Seychelles kestrel and Seychelles blue pigeon.  The Seychelles parakeet unfortunately became extinct in the late 1800s.  Many of these endemic birds have been translocated between islands to build up numbers and guard against local critical events. There are only four endemic land mammals in Seychelles, all of them bats, of which the Seychelles sheath-tail bat Coleura seychellensis is Critically endangered and known in persist only in 3 roosts on Mahe and Silhouette.[52]

It is critical therefore to stress that stringent mechanisms have been put in place conserve these precious wildlife species.[53]

F      Protected areas

Protected Areas in the Seychelles started around the 1970s with the major aim of protecting biodiversity in cases where it is plentiful or in danger including taking care of the land and seas, such that about 47% of the country’s land area is under formal protection.[54] Seychelles’ Protected Areas Policy was developed with the idea of incorporating the country’s international commitments, hence it was crafted under the auspices of the United Nations Development Programme – Global Environment Facility (UNDP-GEF) Project of bolstering its protected area system through incorporating non-governmental framework.[55] The policy sought to “provide a national policy framework for the elaboration of legislation and associated guidelines for the establishment, coordination, guidance and management of PAs in Seychelles.”[56] This is underpinned by the following vision:

To have a Protected Areas System on land and in the sea that protects and conserves high quality, comprehensive and ecologically representative examples of the Seychelles’ natural diversity and cultural heritage and that provides ample opportunities for the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the sustainable use of these resources[57]

This vision saw the President of the Republic of Seychelles making a declaration in 2010 to have over 50% of the country’s land area to be under biodiversity conservation, protecting over 30% of the country’s marine zones with 50% of these zones left to naturally flourish without harvesting from them.[58] The targets would “exceed the CBD Aichi targets (Strategic goal C, target 11), which state that by 2020 at least 17% of terrestrial and inland water and 10% of coastal and marine areas are effectively conserved.”[59] The National Land Use Plan (NLUP) which started around 1988 has demarcated development areas from the non-development areas that are have been put into the following zones as a mechanism to craft appropriate approaches to sustainable development and utilisation:[60]

·    Natural Special Reserves (strict protection)

·    National Parks (protection)

·    Marine National Parks (protection against pollution or degradation)

·    Potable Water Resources (strict protection)

·    Main Catchment Areas (occasional carefully planned development)

·    Forest Areas (sustainable utilisation)

·    Agricultural Areas (sustainable utilisation)

·    Mangroves and Swamps (protection)

·    Beaches (occasional carefully planned development)

G      African customary law and rights of indigenous peoples

There is an argument that Seychelles does not have indigenous peoples as Seychellois descended from various population groups constituted by “French settlers and African slaves brought to the islands in the 18th century; of Chinese who arrived as traders in the 19th century; and of Indians who settled in the early 20th century”.[61]  However, it is acknowledged that “the population of the Seychelles is more strongly African than in Mauritius or Réunion, but the Seychellois remain a mosaic of French, African, Indian, Chinese and Arab heritage. Creole culture, itself a melting pot of influences, reigns supreme, whereas distinct Indian and Chinese communities make up only a tiny proportion of the ethnic mix. As for the grands blancs (white landowners), most were dispossessed in the wake of the 1977 coup.”[62] The country’s “judicial system derives from English common law and the French Napoleonic Code, and also includes elements of customary law.”[63] Seychelles ratified the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage on 15 February 2005 and acceded to the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions on 20 June 2008.[64] The country also accepted the Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage on 9 April 1980.[65] Seychelles has around 250 to 500 plant species that with curative characteristics and the older section of the country’s population practices traditional medicine.[66]


[4] Extracted from, ‘Seychelles: Country East of Africa’ available at https://www.google.com/destination?q=seychelles accessed on 28 August 2019.

[5] See “Seychelles Waste Management Policy 2014 – 2018” available at http://www.meecc.gov.sc/index.php/mdocs-posts/seychelles-waste-managemen... accessed on 28 August 2019

[7] See “Protected Area Policy 2013 – 2022” available at

http://www.meecc.gov.sc/index.php/mdocs-posts/protected-area-policy/ accessed on 28 August 2019, page 5

[8] See “Energy Policy for the Republic of Seychelles 2010-2030” available at https://www.iea.org/policiesandmeasures/pams/seychelles/name-37155-en.php accessed on 1 September 2019

[9] John R. Matzko (2014). The Mineral Industry of Seychelles, available at https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/prd-wret/assets/palladium/production/... accessed on 1 September 2019

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] See “Seychelles Waste Management Policy 2014 – 2018” available at http://www.meecc.gov.sc/index.php/mdocs-posts/seychelles-waste-managemen... accessed on 28 August 2019

[14] Ibid

[15] John R. Matzko (2014). The Mineral Industry of Seychelles, available at https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/prd-wret/assets/palladium/production/... accessed on 1 September 2019

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid, page 41.1

[18] See “Protected Area Policy 2013 – 2022” available at

http://www.meecc.gov.sc/index.php/mdocs-posts/protected-area-policy/ accessed on 28 August 2019, page 5

[20] Ibid.

[22] Ibid.

[24] See “Seychelles Waste Management Policy 2014 – 2018” available at http://www.meecc.gov.sc/index.php/mdocs-posts/seychelles-waste-managemen... accessed on 28 August 2019

[25] See “In Seychelles, an innovative approach to marine protection” available at https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/seychelles-innovati... accessed on 29 August 2019

[26] See, “Seychelles National Biodiversity and Action Plan 2015-2020” available at

http://www.meecc.gov.sc/index.php/mdocs-posts/seychelles-national-biodiv... accessed on 28 August 2019

[27] See “Protected Area Policy 2013 – 2022” available at http://www.meecc.gov.sc/index.php/mdocs-posts/protected-area-policy/ accessed on 28 August 2019, page 5.

[29] Ibid.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Ibid.

[34] See “SADC reviews forestry protocol implementation” available at https://www.sardc.net/en/southern-african-news-features/sadc-reviews-for... accessed on 29 August 2019.

[35] Gérard Rocamora (2015). Biosecurity protocols for the transportation of vessels, cargo and people between islands, with special reference to protected areas and islands of high biodiversity value. Contribution to the project Mainstreaming Prevention and Control Measures for IAS into Trade, Transport and Travel across the Production Landscape, Government of Seychelles-UNDP-GEF.

[36] Ibid, page 11.

[38] Ibid.

[39] See “Seychelles Plant Conservation Agenda 2008 – 2015” available at

http://www.meecc.gov.sc/index.php/mdocs-posts/seychelles-plant-conservat... accessed on 28 August 2019, page 2.

[40] Gérard Rocamora (2015). Biosecurity protocols for the transportation of vessels, cargo and people between islands, with special reference to protected areas and islands of high biodiversity value. Contribution to the project Mainstreaming Prevention and Control Measures for IAS into Trade, Transport and Travel across the Production Landscape, Government of Seychelles-UNDP-GEF.

[41] See “Seychelles Climate Change Strategy 2009” available at http://www.meecc.gov.sc/index.php/mdocs-posts/seychelles-climate-change-... accessed on 28 August 2019

[42] Ibid, page 8.

[43] See “Ecosystem Based Adaptation to Climate Change in Seychelles”, available at https://www.adaptation-fund.org/project/ecosystem-based-adaptation-to-cl... accessed on 31 August 2019

[47] See “Protected Area Policy 2013 – 2022” available at

http://www.meecc.gov.sc/index.php/mdocs-posts/protected-area-policy/ accessed on 28 August 2019

[49] Ibid.

[52] One can check the source to explore all the identified endemic and endangered species

[53] See the list of the 8 rare species under high protection in Seychelles http://www.seychellesnewsagency.com/articles/5338/+fascinating+but+rare+...

[54] See “Protected Area Policy 2013 – 2022” available at

http://www.meecc.gov.sc/index.php/mdocs-posts/protected-area-policy/ accessed on 28 August 2019

[55] Ibid.

[56] Ibid, page 3.

[57] Ibid, page 4.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Ibid, page 5.

[61] Jessica Kerr, (2015). “Finding the Law in Seychelles” available on https://www.nyulawglobal.org/globalex/Seychelles.html accessed on 31 August 2019

[65] Ibid.

 

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