Seychelles sports fishing and WWF plan conservation of really big fish
Team members of Island Star with a 212kg marlin at Eden island marina January 2014 (Stefan Houareau)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Sports fishing enthusiasts in Seychelles are taking steps to ensure that their much loved passion is kept alive by joining conservation efforts.
The Seychelles Sports Fishing Club (SSFC) has sought the support of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to undertake the tagging and release of all billfish, such as blue marlins, sailfish and swordfish caught in selected future fishing tournaments. WWF is one of the world's leading wildlife conservation organisations with 5 millions supporters worldwide working to protect endangered species.
In a press statement, SSFC said it has taken one year to develop this partnership with WWF, with the aim of ensuring the conservation of the Seychelles’ billfish stock while promoting the Indian Ocean island nation as one of the best fishing destinations in the world.
“SSFC was successful in introducing catch and release categories in two of its 2013 tournaments and it was met with some resistance at first. However, SSFC pressed on with its plans and introduced trophy based awards for the release of billfish as well as the use of video technology in such tournaments,” said the SSFC statement.
“The local anglers quickly adapted to the new techniques and today it has become the norm to release billfish instead of killing these magnificent pelagics.”
The first competition which will see the ‘tagging and release’ of all bill fish caught is the Heineken Slam Tournament scheduled for June 28.
“We are making tremendous progress in changing the mindset of our local sports fishermen in regards to the release of fish,” said SSFC’s Chairman Tarak Patel.
“The SSFC/WWF relationship will further emphasize that catch and release needs to become an integral part of the sports fishing culture in Seychelles in order for us to protect the valuable resource that brings tourists to Seychelles.” he added.
The objective set by WWF is to stop the degradation of our planet's natural environment, and build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature.
“Recreational anglers can play an important role in adding to the scientific knowledge of fish species through effective tagging programs,” said Dr. Wetjens Dimmlich, the organization’s Representative based in Seychelles.
Sports fishing is becoming an increasingly popular activity which sees spectacular fishes of different types being caught. In January, one of the faithful Seychelles sports fishing team, Island Star, caught a 212 kg Blue Marlin to win the first competition of the year, the Marlin slam.
The same Island Star, went on to win the Seychelles National Fishing Tournament two weeks ago, which saw over 5 tons of fish being caught.
Will Island Star’s winning streak continue in the next planned competition, the Heineken Slam at the end of June?
While that remains to be seen SSFC’s Grant Heyer who was the driving force behind obtaining WWF support for the tagging and release of billfish project is dreaming big about seeing the sports fishermen embrace the conservation spirit.
“Our club is very proud of the gigantic steps that we have made so far in educating our local angling enthusiasts about the need to release billfish and we will continue to strive for 100 percent release in all our future tournaments” said Heyer.