Seychelles Fishing Authority seeks views on mariculture project
Seychellois fishermen at Beau Vallon beach pulling in their fishing nets. The island nation's demand and consumption of fish from the artisanal fishing industry is around 4,900 tonnes per year, and through the aquaculture project, which will be mostly for export, the target is to produce between 20,000 and 50,000 tonnes of fish annually. (Gerard Larose, Seychelles Tourism Board)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) is holding consultative meetings on a proposed mariculture project due for implementation next year.
Since June, SFA has sought views on one of the components of the mariculture master plan -- the aquaculture pilot project. Mariculture is a specialized branch of aquaculture involving the cultivation of marine life for food and other products.
Speaking to SNA, SFA’s principal aquaculture officer, Aubrey Lesperance, said the pilot project is expected to start late next year, and the authority wants to address any queries and concerns by those who would be directly affected by the project.
“The pilot project is an important one that will provide concrete evidence on the feasibility of aquaculture in Seychelles’ waters, and it is important that all stakeholders take part so that we can have a comprehensive document before its implementation.”
Last week, SFA met with organisations and individuals from the tourism and fisheries sectors to give their comments on the pilot project’s Environment and Social Impact Assessment, prepared by Golder Associates Africa.
Issues such as the quality of fish, the treatment of waste and the locations of the cages were raised.
One of the concerns was the pilot project that will run close to shore at Providence, on the east coast of Mahe, the main island.
Diver and owner of Eden Aquarium, Charles Savy, said although he was in favour of aquaculture, “Seychelles needs to take considerable care that the development of aquaculture does not impinge on the tourism industry and that the environment is not negatively touched by such industry.”
He expressed concern over the chosen site close to shore at Providence, on the east coast of Mahe, the main island.
“I would suggest that the pilot project is run as a smaller project, but in the same arena as the larger one, hence offshore,” he said.
|An example of a fish farming activity. (Wikimedia Commons) Photo License: (CC BY-SA 4.0)
The mariculture master plan is part of the government’s plan to diversify the economy of Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean. It will help reduce pressure on the fisheries sector.
Mariculture is the farming of aquatic plants and animals in seawater in the open ocean, enclosed parts of the ocean, or other places which are filled with sea water.
“Our research shows that fish stock is depleting while demand for fish continues to grow especially with the increase in our population and visitors’ arrival,” said Lesperance.
He added that although Seychelles has a vast ocean, the species that are more in demand has a fragile stock as they take longer to reproduce.
“Aquaculture is the alternative as it is done in a controlled manner, where we can decide which species to farm and closely follow their growth till they are ready for consumption,” explained Lesperance.
The four species identified for the pilot project are brown-marbled grouper, red emperor snapper, mangrove snapper and snubnose pompano from the finfish category.
Seychelles' demand and consumption of fish from the artisanal fishing industry is around 4,900 tonnes per year, and through the aquaculture project, which Lesperance said, will be mostly for export, the target is to produce between 20,000 and 50,000 tonnes of fish annually.
Lesperance explained that SFA had identified sixteen locations for the aquaculture project but in the end, only four will be chosen.
He said SFA will try to incorporate all the comments into the draft document before it is finalised in November. The document will be presented to the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change where the public can view and give their comments until February.
The construction of infrastructures for the pilot project is expected to start during the second half of next year.