Ocean literacy has been historically defined as “the understanding of human influence on the Ocean and the Ocean’s influence on people.” It is not only about increasing awareness on the state of the ocean, but it is also, about providing tools and approaches to transform ocean knowledge into actions that promote ocean sustainability.” (UN Decade on Ocean Science Strategy).  Ocean literacy includes providing both formal and informal education led by range of stakeholders and benefit a wide variety of beneficiaries, in particular marginalized communities, including women, youth and people with disabilities. Ocean literacy can be included in other education frameworks.

The Seychelles’ Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT) capitalized by the proceeds of the debt-for-nature swap and the Seychelles’ sovereign blue bond provides grants financing to increase ocean literacy in the Seychelles.

The Government of Seychelles, through the Ministry responsible of Environment and that responsible for Education, started a programme to produce the next generation of “Eco-Warriors” whereby schools set up sustainability initiatives within their schools and children and youth taught to defend their environmental inheritance, regardless of the cultural practices of the past. To strengthen these efforts, non-governmental organisations, communicators and educators have sought financing from SeyCCAT to increase ocean literacy with innovative, effective and meaningful ways of increasing ocean literacy to different sections of the society in the Seychelles.

SeyCCAT has funded 12 projects seeking to increase ocean literacy through both formal and informal education. These initiatives are led by non-governmental organizations, educators, communicators and one scientist and are and will directly benefit approximately, 20000 people.

Tools and Educational Resources

Formal and informal educational resources have been developed through the Blue Grant. In terms of formal educational tools, Ms Nathalie Duval, a 29-year-old teacher, is developing a Blue Economy workbook for her peers to build their capacity when teaching about the ocean and the opportunities that the blue economy present. In terms of informal education, other tools have been developed such as the Seatizens website by John Nevill which raises awareness about the various fish species that occupy the waters of the Seychelles, a citizens’ guide to climate change developed by Sustainability for Seychelles, and 12 episodes of documentaries on various topics linked to the ocean, including one specifically on the importance of mangrove habitats. These tools are also, available to the general public.

Revolutionizing career guidance

Many children and youth in the Seychelles are dependent on the limited career guidance that is provided in their schools. Two initiatives revolutionize career guidance by providing youth with the opportunities to gain valuable work experience before selecting their future path. SYAH-Seychelles’ Blue Economy Internship Programme and WiseOceans’ Marine Scholarship Programme will see 40 youth in 2020 benefit from this valuable work experience and networking opportunity.

Moving the business community

Two new SeyCCAT-funded projects seek to change the mindset of the business community by creating ocean literate entrepreneurs who become conscious of the impact of their business on the environment and how to best use their corporate social responsibility towards ocean sustainability. Enterprise Seychelles Agency and The Guy Morel Institute seek to build the capacity of aspiring and existing entrepreneurs to access blue finance by providing capacity building and international opportunities for greater exposure.

Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Citizen Science

The Green Island Foundation’s project was guided by the traditional ecological knowledge of artisanal fishers on Mahe whereby they identified “species of local concern.”  The artisanal fishers had identified 13 species that they felt were depleted on the Mahe Plateau. They partnered with a non-governmental organization, GIF, to collect data over a 12-month period to confirm or dispel their stories from the sea. Following the collection of data, the information was presented to the fishers and they were requested to propose management measures that they would be willing to put in place and adhere to. Such initiatives engages local fishing communities and increases their understanding of ocean health and provides them with an opportunity to take action to enhance sustainability.