Saya de Malha Banks – Establishment of a High Seas MPA
Africa/Madagascar > West Indian Ocean > Madagascar
The Saya de Malha Banks is part of the Mascarene Plateau which constitutes an underwater ridge connecting Seychelles and Mauritius. The Saya de Malha Banks have been identified as an ecologically and biologically significant area of global outstanding importance and therefore a potential high seas marine protected area (MPA).
This project aims to facilitate the development of an agreement between the concerned parties. In order to achieve this, a clear understanding of the potential high seas MPA needs to be promoted and a feasibility study is proposed as a means to identify the most appropriate legal and management regime.
The Saya de Malha Banks is part of the Mascarene Plateau, an underwater ridge connecting the Seychelles and Mauritius in the Western Indian Ocean.
It has been identified as an ecologically and biologically significant area of global outstanding interest by scientific experts and therefore is potentially a high seas MPA. The Saya de Malha have a high productivity fuelled by deep nutrients forced to the surface by an upwelling system bringing deep, cold and nutrient rich waters. The Banks represent one the largest shallow tropical marine ecosystems and contain the most extensive seagrass area in the world covering 40,000 km² area of the Banks, which provides feeding habitat for the green turtle. The Saya de Malha Banks deep surrounding water provides also breeding grounds for blue whales.
The high secondary production of the Saya de Malha Banks has led to the diversity of fish communities which are subject to an intensive commercial hook and line fishery. Furthermore, the area may also play a role in the maintenance of the straddling fish stocks that supply much of the catch in neighbouring waters of Seychelles and Mauritius.
In order to push forward the establishment of the Saya de Malha Banks high seas MPA, WWF’s intervention aims to facilitate the development of an agreement between the concerned parties. Saya de Malha Banks is part of the Western Indian Ocean Marine Ecoregion (WIOMER), one of the WWF 35 global priority places and many of its associated species (including marine invertebrates, reptiles, mammals and fish) are included on WWF’s list of priority species. The potential risk outside WWF's control is the consent of relevant states, which might be politically problematic.
By 2012, agreement on the establishment of a high seas marine protected area is secured and an action plan is approved by all concerned parties.
For the establishment of the Saya de Malha high seas MPA, the development of an agreement between the concerned parties is facilitated. In order to achieve this, clear understanding of the potential high seas MPA is promoted and a feasibility study proposed to identify the most appropriate legal and management regime.