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Marine Debris – Eyesore for Seychelles Outer Islands

Marine Debris – Eyesore for Seychelles Outer Islands

A major beach clean-up operation underway on eight of Seychelles outer islands produces shocking amount of marine litter, especially plastics being washed on shore.

Some 40 volunteers, most of them, members of local NGO The Ocean Project Seychelles, have been dispatched on the eight islands to pick up, sort out and classify the debris that are lining kilometres of pristine beaches and creating eye sores.  The initiative is being supported fully by state Enterprise, The Island Development Company (IDC) which manages these islands. The IDC is providing logistical support in the form of air transportation, transport, accommodation and food for the volunteers.

The IDC fully supports this initiative which is a first for the outer islands commented the Chairperson of its Board of Directors, Mr. Patrick Berlouis who was among the volunteers on the Island of Coetivy which lies some  290 kilometres south of Victoria, the capital. “Whilst we are happy to have collected the rubbish but it is saddening to note that people in some parts of the world are just using the ocean as a dust bin. This is not on and totally unacceptable”. This exercise is just a small step which will hopefully go a long way in educating people about the ocean and the need to protect it.  This ties in well with the objectives of The Ocean Project which was established in November 2016 in response to the global issue of marine plastic pollution affecting the Seychelles; with a mission to tackle the problem through education, action and research.

This clean up operation is also part of a survey by the NGO to learn more about the impact of marine pollution in Seychelles.

So far almost 2 tons of debris have been collected on Coetivy island in just four days. The volunteers are joined by some 20 inmates who are purging their sentences on the island as part of their rehabilitation programme. Flip flops, pet and glass bottles, cigarette lighters, tube light and styrofoams boxes are topping the list of debris collected. Some are already in very advanced breaking down stage and will soon become micro plastics. The trend is similar on all the islands.

Large number of Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD), ropes, bouys and nets from fishing vessels are also making it to the shores.

It is to be noted that the James Michel Foundation is against the use of FADS as they have negative impact on fish stocks as they are indiscriminate of the species and sizes of seafood they attract, and which are eventually caught in the nets. As recently as last November, Our Executive Chairman called on operators in the fishing business gathered in Hong Kong for the World Ocean Summit to adopt sustainable fishing methods which are more selective. 

It is very sad to see that almost all of the rubbish on the outer islands do not originate from Seychelles but rather from other Indian Ocean islands which do not have proper waste management systems, and as far away as Malaysia and Indonesia commented a young volunteer.

The clean-up operation which started on 18th March will go till the end of the month. 

It is running parallel to another major clean up exercise on the atoll of Aldabra which is a UNESCO world heritage site. The atoll is managed by the  Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF).

The debris collected will be shipped to Mahe, the main island for proper disposal.

The James Michel Foundation commends and congratulates the IDC, The Ocean project Seychelles, the SIF for the initiative which it hopes will continue.

Well done to all the volunteers, some of whom have taken leave from their studies and  work to be part of this historic operation. You make Seychelles proud. 

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