Research in Seychelles' aquaculture potential shows optimistic results
A very successful trial for the grow-out of mangrove snapper has been conducted. (Seychelles Aquaculture/Facebook)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Aquaculture in Seychelles is on the path to becoming a strong sector in the island state's Blue Economy, according to a fisheries official.
Over the past year, several research has been undertaken to highlight constraints, challenges as well as opportunities in the sector.
In 2019, the opening of a broodstock, acclimation and quarantine facility at the Providence Fishing Port on the main island of Mahe marked the official opening of aquaculture as an industry and became the central research facility.
The head of the Aquaculture Department at the Seychelles Fishing Authority, (SFA), Aubrey Lesperance, said research in the aquaculture sector plays a vital role in ensuring that all necessary research work is conducted and reported on to be able to provide insight for investors with necessary information based on their interest in the aquaculture sector.
"We have conducted research on different marine species, mainly the pompano, the mangrove snapper, as well as the spanner and mud crabs. We also undertook several analyses on nutrient and algae cultivation," explained Lesperance.
He added that a very successful trial for the grow-out of mangrove snapper has been conducted and that "the information for this trial has been collated as a journal article. To ensure that the results can easily be applied in a commercial aquaculture setting, a Windows-based application was developed."
|Another species on which research has been carried out is the mud crab. (Seychelles Aquaculture/Facebook) Photo license: All Rights Reserved
According to the research, one of the key species that has been identified as a good candidate for commercial aquaculture in Seychelles is the Golden pompano. In the last year, the aquaculture team captured numerous specimens mainly in the southern part of Mahe.
"A similar growth experiment is being conducted on these to the mangrove snapper trail. The largest batch now weighs an average of 500 g and has grown quickly. The only problem has been that there have been a couple of mortalities, mostly due to fish jumping out of the tanks. This experiment is near completion, and information will be used to produce a model and app that can be distributed to investors to aid in commercialising this species," explained Lesperance.
The research department of the broodstock, acclimation, and quarantine facility has also experimented and started raising sea urchin larvae. But this has led to some challenges with spawning, fertilisation, and feeding. "Water quality seems to be a problem, and during the next experiment, a lower stocking density and water exchanges will be implemented to attempt to grow the larvae for longer."
Lesperance added that one of the developmental areas for aquaculture in Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean – is the production of aquarium fish. "An interesting species in this regard is the Seychelles anemone fish. We collected two pairs of anemone fish, which are currently being conditioned at the facility," he said.
One private investor who has ventured into aquaculture is Christopher Lespoir of Harmony Investments. The company is currently experimenting with the farming of sea cucumbers.
"As a start-up company within the Blue Economy sector, it is commendable the amount of work input by the Seychelles Fishing Authority to prepare for the launch of the industry. Though there is more work ahead to be done, enough has been done to welcome new players like us in Harmony Investment," Lespoir told SNA.
Lespoir believes that is essential to ensure that structures are in place to "prevent external economic sharks to now come in, poach local ideas, local resources and drive the local industry with local companies to a state of assured failure. We remain confident that Seychelles Fishing Authority is aware of such threats and will mitigate accordingly."