A novel solution to international debt is being tried by the Indian Ocean island nation of Seychelles. This so-called tropical paradise, which is perilously close to defaulting on some major international banking loans, is building two immense saltwater parks and in return they are negotiating to have a good portion of their national debt forgiven. This amazing environmental finance plan is the first of its kind the world. A sort of financial legerdemain, the country will be swapping IOU’s for a stable and protected sanctuary for endangered tropical fish and other sea creatures — including, but not limited to, turtles, tuna, starfish, seahorses, corals, and sea slugs and cucumbers. Only one fish will be definitely excluded from the two proposed marine parks — sharks.
The economic leaders of the Seychelles are hoping that the massive influx of tourists visiting the country each year will enthusiastically get behind the project and help restructure the country’s debt with increased entry fees and donations — which, for most citizens of First World countries, will be considered a tax write-off.
Protected areas around Aldabra Island, already designated an Ecological Landmark by the United Nations Marine Commission, will total more than one hundred square miles, and when completed, the marine parks will include nearly fifteen percent of the total area of the country itself.
The original idea for the parks for debts swap came from The Nature Conservancy, which has already gotten banks and other lenders to shave off five billion dollars from the Seychelles’ national debt.