Mon, 23rd October 2017 | Updated Thursday 27 July 2017, 09:18:58    

Press Advisory

Validation workshop for the Seychelles Mercury Initial Assessment Report

Wednesday 20th September 2016 - Victoria: The Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change and the GOS-UNDP-GEF Programme Coordination Unit are organising a validation workshop for the Seychelles Mercury Initial Assessment Report on Tuesday 20th September from 8.30am-11.30am at the Seychelles Fishing Authority Training Room.

The MIA Report is the final output of the UNDP-GEF funded Mercury project. It provides an analysis of mercury releases into the environment in Seychelles, to aid in determining and agreeing upon measures needed to implement the Minamata Convention which promotes global measures for the reduction of mercury emissions. The report also contains a national action plan, estimated costs, and means of disseminating information about Mercury in Seychelles in a clear and concise manner.

The Media is cordially invited to attend the event.

Editor's Note

Seychelles signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury on May 27th, 2014, becoming the 98th signatory to the convention.

The Minamata Convention seeks to address the adverse impacts of mercury on human health and the environment by phase-out of mercury containing products, reduction of mercury supply and trade, limitation of mercury-using processes, and of control mercury emissions and releases. The Convention also addresses interim storage of mercury and its disposal once it becomes waste, sites contaminated by mercury and health issues related to exposure to mercury.

The International Negotiating Committee (INC) for the convention and Global Environmental Facility (GEF) have developed a series of pre-ratification activities, called Minamata Convention Initial Assessments (MIAs). MIAs are designed to prepare countries for treaty ratification and implementation. Further the MIAs assist countries with development of communications tools and strategies to inform governmental agencies, NGOs, and the public on activities related to the Convention.

The MIA has determined that Seychelles imports a number of mercury added products, such as thermometers, CFL light bulbs, dental amalgam and PU foam mattress. The use of these mercury containing products will need to be substituted with their mercury free counterparts by the year 2020.

The disposal of mercury containing waste is the major source of emissions in Seychelles, since there is no local manufacturing involving mercury. The substitution of the mercury containing products with non-mercury containing products would take care of this.

In terms of legislation, the current law requires revision to meet the requirements of the convention. In particular, there is a need to legislate for a phase-out period and develop a list of 'banned' mercury added products. The legislative framework with regards to chemicals is in general requiring attention and at the moment is not compliant with other conventions such as the Stockholm Convention. The approach to resolve the shortcomings under the Stockholm Convention can be used to meet the requirements of the convention on Mercury when it comes into force.

In terms of institutional and technical capacity, there are few staff in Government able to oversee effective implementation of the convention. Presently mercury containing wastes are being deposited into the landfill and are leaching out to contaminate surrounding water bodies, ground water and the ocean.

It is well-reported that there is a significant accumulation of methyl mercury in pelagic fish that are caught in Seychelles waters, notably predatory fish such as swordfish and tuna. Seychelles has been undertaking a Child Development study since the 1980s to evaluate the effects of prenatal methyl mercury exposure among babies born to mothers with high consumption of fish in their diet. Although research is on-going, researchers have no evidence of abnormal or delayed development in children as a result of their mother's consumption of fish during pregnancy. So far the data do not support the hypothesis that there is a neurodevelopmental risk from prenatal methyl mercury exposure resulting solely from ocean fish consumption. However, the Seychellois population consumes mostly demersal fishes, which appear to accumulate lower levels of mercury. As concern grows about the sustainability of the demersal fisheries, and demersal fish become more expensive, people may shift to a higher proportion of swordfish and tuna in their diet, and may thus be exposed to higher levels of mercury.

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