Seychelles anglers to contribute on improving available data on billfish – SSFC organising first IGFA Great Marlin Race
(Seychelles News Agency) - Sports fishing enthusiasts in Seychelles will be combining the excitement of setting out in search of the majestic marlin with scientific research in November, as the Seychelles Sports Fishing Club (SSFC) organises the first ever Seychelles IGFA Great Marlin Race.
The November 29 event is being organised in conjunction with SSFC’s last tournament for this year, the Big Game Classic fishing tournament which will be a trolling event starting at 3.00am local time with a deadline for anglers to be back at 5.00pm the same day.
The IGFA Great Marlin Race (IGMR) is a partnership between the International Game Fishing Association (IGFA) and California’s Stanford University. It is aimed at getting anglers to combine recreational fishing with science particularly to learn about the basic biology of marlin and how they utilize the open ocean habitat.
In June this year, SSFC organised the first Seychelles Billfish Release Challenge in collaboration with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The tagging and release of billfish was also done in another tournament in August, which was also supported by the Billfish Foundation.
According to a press statement issued by SSFC, as the anglers are becoming used to the tag and release system, having a Great Marlin Race is a natural progression.
The association says it has taken almost two year to add Seychelles to the list of countries participating in the IGFA Great Marlin Race, which it says will “positively impact various sectors of Seychelles and also contribute to worldwide knowledge of billfish.”
“We noticed that there is a lack of data within the Indian Ocean region Great Marlin Race results and that makes Seychelles an ideal location since Seychelles is surrounded by water in all directions,” said SSFC’s Secretary Grant Heyer, in the statement.
“It is a proud moment to see that SSFC will be participating in gathering scientific and educational data that will be shared internationally and locally with Seychelles Fishing Authority and with students in the Marine and Fisheries Science study program at the University of Seychelles to get more of our youth interested in the Seychelles marine environment.”
The University of Seychelles, the archipelago’s only university set up in September 2009 is also anticipating the benefits of this collaboration in terms of data that will be made available to students following its environment science programmes.
The programme was introduced in 2012 and the first group of students who enrolled will earn their degree in 2015. Out of fifteen year 3 students, four of them are specializing in Marine and Fisheries Science.
“The University of Seychelles is excited at the prospect of accessing the valuable data. It is hoped that this data will allow for innovative research and collaboration to take place going forward and that this initiative will allow for further advancement of students and research in Seychelles,” read a statement issued by the University’s Environment Science Programme.
Data collected through Seychelles’ participation in the first IGFA Great Marlin Race is also expected to be shared with scientists, conservation groups and policy makers working to prepare the Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan.
The Seychelles Ministry of Environment and Energy is in the process of drawing up a Marine Spatial Plan (MSP) with the technical support of ‘The Nature Conservancy' (TNC ) which will clearly demarcate areas designated for fishing, recreation, oil exploration and tapping as well as harnessing of renewable energy sources.
Several partners are involved in the process including the SSFC that forms part of the Seychelles Marine Spatial Planning Socioeconomic and Marine Ecology technical working group.
The Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean are known to have one of the richest big game fishing grounds in the world.
By joining the IGFA Great Marlin Race, Seychelles joins other sport fishing countries that partner with the international organisation to contribute towards scientific research on the billfish.
The other countries include Bahamas, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Polynesia, Guatemala, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and USA.
“Seychelles is known as a tourist destination lead by its legendary beauty but SSFC is actively involved in promoting Seychelles as an amazing sports fishing destination for all anglers. The addition of this event to SSFC’s tournament calendar should attract more anglers to our shores,” said the SSFC Chairman Tarak Patel in the statement.
“We don’t know what the data will tell us from this event but we are all excited to see where billfish in Seychelles waters travel.”
During the November 29 race, which will be during the prime marlin season, anglers will be encouraged to tag and release marlin fish caught using what is known as pop up satellite archival tags that will be monitored after the fish is released.
According the IGFA website the tag travels the farthest from its point of deployment will win the race for that event. The tag from either of the participating countries that travels farthest of all in the 2014-2015 race year will be crowned the overall winner for the year when the result is announced in October 2015.