On February 21, 2018, the Seychelles announced the designation of two new Marine Protected Areas, covering an area of roughly 81,000 square miles. The first MPA covers 29,000 square miles around the Aldabra island group which is home to the dugong (the most endangered animal in the Western Indian Ocean) as well as about 100,000 giant tortoises. The second MPA covers the deep waters between the Amirantes Group and Fortune Bank, an area important to tourism and local fishing.
The MPAs were part of a debt conversion program agreed to in 2015 between the Seychelles and key stakeholders, designed by the Nature Conservancy. The Seychelles paid off $21 million of sovereign debt and increased its protected marine areas from .04 percent to 30 percent through the program.
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