Thu, 04 April 2019
The James Michel Blue Economy Research Institute in the University of Seychelles (JMBERI) is amongst the implementing partners for some of the 7 projects which will be benefiting from funding under the second Blue Grants Fund launched in 2018. The seven projects have passed the test of being innovative that will provide valuable data to increase knowledge on Seychelles’ marine biodiversity.
The CEO of the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SEYCCAT) which manages the fund, Angelique Pouponneau says the financial assistance will amount to a total of three hundred and sixty-three thousand (363, 000) dollars. The projects retained are those supporting Marine Protected Areas and sustainable fisheries in Seychelles.
SEYCCAT is a public-private trust fund established as part of the Seychelles debt-swap and the Blue Bonds (initiated by our Founder and Executive Chairman, James Alix Michel when he was President of the Republic of Seychelles). It aims to strategically invest in ocean stakeholders to generate new learning, bold action and sustainable blue prosperity in Seychelles.
Under the grant, JMBERI along with Marine Conservation Society will be carrying out Science based restoration of commercially important spiny lobster habitats to help develop a sustainable fishery.
Spiny lobsters are an important source of income for local fishers in Seychelles, however, declines in abundance prevent consistency in the operation of the commercial fishery. In recent years, many of the fringing reefs in Seychelles, have become dominated by fleshy macro algae and no longer support the same numbers of common and commercially important reef inhabitants, such as lobsters and octopus. The bleaching events and subsequent collapse of coral reefs have triggered this paradigm shift and reduced the availability of potential habitat to these species explains the project initiators.
Supplementation of degraded reefs with artificial habitats has been shown to provide valuable increases in spiny lobster numbers but for this to be a real increase in population, rather than an aggregation of existing stock, the level of recruitment and availability of lobster post-larval phases and juveniles has to be assessed and if necessary managed. Similarly, a clearer knowledge of the juvenile to adult lifecycle habitat requirements is necessary as lobsters undergo multiple moults during which they need security from predators.
Anse Royale and Anse Forbans are both fringing reef structures along the South East Coast of Mahe; over the years there have been marked changes at these sites, in both coral reef and other benthic habitats, most notably sea-grasses. Bel Ombre is on the North West coast and has been surveyed for lobsters by the Seychelles Fishing Authority monitoring programme and would be used as a reference site to assess the effects of artificial habitats on wild lobster population.
JMBERI will be Co-Investigator in another project assessing the effectiveness of Curieuse Marine National Park in the protection of the critical early life stages of sicklefin lemon sharks (Negaprionacutidens). The species is categorized as vulnerable, in part due to its coastal preference and consequent proximity to human activity, and it faces many threats to its continued survival. For effective protection of shark species it is important to gain an understanding of spatial movements and habitat preferences of critical life stages.
The installation of an acoustic receiver array along the north and east coast of Curieuse Island, together with the acoustic tagging of 20 neonates, will enhance our knowledge of itsecology. Furthermore, results from this project will enable MPA practitioners to make informed future recommendations with regards to the protection of this particular species.
SEYCCAT has also launched the third call of proposals for a total amount of seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars (750, 000).