With an ocean area almost 3000 times the size of its land area, the ocean is no stranger to the Seychellois people. It has been the centre of the conversation recently as the economy shifts to focus on a sustainable blue economy. But what can be said about the relationship between quality of life and the ocean?
The constitution of the World Health Organisation (WHO) defines the quality of life as ‘A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being not merely the absence of disease…’ Quality of life is clearly a multi-dimensional concept and it may hold a different meaning for different people. For the grantees of SeyCCAT grants, quality of life is exactly that- it is dynamic, it is multidimensional. It is important for personal wellbeing, for economic growth and for food security. The ocean is therefore intricately tied to the quality of life of islanders. However, the way in which it affects our quality of life is entirely based on the actions that we choose to take with respect to our relationship with the ocean.
For the women involved in Women in Action and Solidarity Organisation (WASO) project to produce compost from seaweed that washes up on the shore, the ocean provides not only a source of income but an opportunity for the women to develop their confidence and their entrepreneurial spirit. For Benjamin Vel, WASO’s project coordinator, the project is not just about seaweed. It is comprehensive and holistic. It will touch the minds of women while contributing to national development. This is a thread that runs throughout many SeyCCAT-funded projects. They all recognise that the ocean is not only a source of economic growth, but it affects all of the facets that contribute towards quality of life.
Educational blue economy programmes such as SIDS Youth Aims Hubs’s (SYAH) internship programme and WiseOcean’s marine scholarship programme, provide work and educational opportunities that will allow Seychellois youth to diversify their employment opportunities and to pursue a career that is meaningful. These projects highlight the importance of decent work and the psychological wellbeing that stems from a rewarding career. The ocean lays the pathways for these opportunities to develop.
Quality of life is also impacted by the intangible benefits provided by the ocean. Michele Martin, involved in the citizen’s guide to climate change project, recognised that people re-connected with the ocean over the lockdown period earlier in the year. When social gatherings were banned, people turned to the ocean for stability in the midst of chaos. In a socioeconomic study on the artisanal fisheries, Karine Rassool speaks about the importance of the ocean to Seychellois culture. Fish hold cultural importance to islanders, a good ‘pwason griye’ has the power to bring friends, family and strangers together around a table.
The ocean, the blue economy and quality of life are interconnected concepts. It is evident that the ocean has a significant impact on all aspects of quality of life. It is important to navigate this relationship sustainably to continue to benefit from the services that the ocean provides for life in Seychelles.
Contributed by Upeksha Hettiarachchi