Protecting the ocean and marine life is a collective world effort and everyone has a role to play, said the President of Seychelles, Danny Faure, at Ireland's largest maritime festival -- SeaFest -- State House said on Sunday.
At the invitation of the Irish government, Faure delivered his address at the Wild Atlantic theatre in Cork city quay to representatives from other small island states like the Pacific, the Caribbean and Africa, Irish ministers and locals.
"Safeguarding the oceans and marine life from climate change, acidification, overfishing, deep-sea mining, plastic pollution and other threats is a global responsibility. Much of the world's food and half of the oxygen we breathe comes from ocean waters," said Faure.
The head of state of Seychelles added that the ocean is also the largest active carbon sink on earth, absorbing more than 25 percent of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Faure highlighted the actions Seychelles is taking to protect its marine resources through the Blue Economy roadmap. The island nation has committed 30 percent of its waters to marine protection by the end of next year.
To date, Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has designated 26 percent of its territorial waters as marine protection areas under the debt for conservation finance deal with The Nature Conservancy.
However, he said that more is required and that "with the right support and partners, we can do more to sustainably harness the vast ocean resources that surround us to grow our economies, and secure and improve the welfare of our people."
In presentations and a panel discussion, Faure responded to questions such as how Seychelles managed to successfully develop the 'blue bond' model and what level of education is needed to obtain public buy-in on the ocean and marine protection.
Prior to the panel discussions, the President of Seychelles and his delegation made a tour of Cork city quay with the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed. This included visits on several ships including one which is part of the Irish naval force and the projects denoting innovative ways Ireland is trying to harness the ocean's wealth.
Earlier in the day, Faure attended a working lunch hosted by the Irish Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Tánaiste Simon Coveney, in which opportunities for greater collaboration were discussed alongside exchanges of best practices in maritime management and tackling climate change.
On the first day of his visit to Ireland, Faure paid a courtesy call on the Irish President Michael D.Higgins at the Presidential Palace in Dublin. In thanking his Irish counterpart, Faure reiterated his invitation to President Higgins to visit the Seychelles.
A key highlight for the Seychelles' President was a meeting with Seychellois students who are studying at the Shannon College of Hotel Management in Ireland during a reception hosted by the Deputy Secretary General of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Brendan Rogers.
Faure thanked the students for their presence and took the opportunity to highlight the strong ties that exist between Seychelles and Ireland which can be further cemented, for example in the field of education.
Discussions on potential areas for further bilateral cooperation between Seychelles and Ireland continued over a dinner hosted by the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan.