The importance of the oceans in the lives of humans and why they need protecting were some of the main points of discussion during a two-day conference in Seychelles.
Titled ‘From Ocean to Health’, the conference sought to create awareness about the ocean and getting people to appreciate the benefits and riches it brings to the world.
Scientists, policymakers, international organisations, regulators, industry partners and community members from Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, came together from November 12-13.
Participants presented scientific papers and discussed the status of the ocean ecosystem, marine biodiversity and threats faced by the ocean from climate change, pollution and fishing pressures.
“The fact that many organisations have come together to put up this conference is also a positive sign of the growing importance given to scientific research and the recognition that science, technology and innovation are one of the main pillars of our national development strategies,” said Vice President Vincent Meriton during the opening.
He added that “as small islands with vast oceanic space, our day-to-day needs and concerns about our future are linked to this resource.”
Vice President Meriton addressing participants at the opening of the two-day conference on Tuesday. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY
On the first day of the conference, it was outlined that on average each Seychellois eats about 75 kg of fish per year. A 30-year study — Seychelles Child Development Study — has found that no clear evidence of abnormal or delayed development in children as a result of their mother’s consumption of fish during pregnancy have been found.
The international research collaboration study was presented during the opening and its focus was to evaluate the development of children in Seychelles, and finding out if low levels of mercury in the fish diet during pregnancy can have an effect on the development of children.
An environmental scientist, Jérôme Harlay, said that a recent study has shown that spending time by the sea helps to reduce stress.
“Stress and other health conditions all impact the health of people, and obesity is a good example of that. We cannot address obesity by just shifting the diet. We can also address the stress of the population through recreational activities at the sea,” he said.
Harlay, who was part of the Seychelles Nekton Deep Ocean Expedition crew, said that during the exploration, the team discovered different species that they did not expect to see there.
“There is the potential for the sea to provide those medicine, those drugs that we need to take care of the population,” he said.
One of the event’s organisers, Conrad Shamlaye, emphasised that “the ocean is a living body that sustains our life. It helps us with oxygen that we breathe and carbon dioxide it removes from the environment. All this contributes to better our health.”
He added that even if there is still a lot of work needed to sensitise a part of the society on the importance of protecting the ocean, the government and not-for-profit organisations are putting in a lot of efforts to campaign towards the protection of the environment. One good example is the fact that Seychelles has designated 30 percent of its maritime space as protected areas.
Over the two days, participants also have the opportunity to see an exhibition on various scientific work, technical services and commercial products taking place around the ocean.
Source: Seychelles News Agency