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Saturday, February 12, 2011

MFF Artisanal Shark Fishery Project Enters Final Stages

The third week of December 2010 saw representatives of the Mangroves For the Future initiative (MFF) visit Seychelles to assess progress of the national projects under their purview. On the 17th of December GIF made a presentation on the Artisanal Shark Fishery Project to the MFF representatives and then later that day met with them to go over the project budget and disbursement to date. After that the MFF reps had the opportunity to meet with some of the Artisanal Shark Fishermen (ASF) based at Anse Etoile on Mahe. The MFF personnel expressed their satisfaction with the project implementation to date.

The 3rd of February saw another major landmark in the project namely the first Annual General Meeting of the Artisanal Shark Fishers’ Association (ASFA) - the development and registration of which was enabled by this project. GIF facilitated the meeting and representatives of the Seychelles Fishing Authority, MFF and the National Media were also in attendance. The AGM went well and succeeded in making the Association operational through its: endorsement of the Articles of Association, election of a Board of Directors, elaboration of a priority action plan and establishment of a Management Committee to oversee day-to-day activities.

The meeting also provided the opportunity for the handover of equipment purchased under the project. The equipment in question (three digital cameras and water-proof housings, measuring tapes and waterproof notebooks) is to enable the fishers to gather data on their catch. The format for data gathering has also been developed under this project. Lack of data on coastal shark populations in Seychelles is one of the key obstacles to informed management of the fishery and ASFA has identified the collection of data as one of its priority activities.

So the operationalisation of ASFA - one of the key objectives of the GIF project – has been attained and should enable the Fishers to fulfil their role under the Seychelles National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks.
A couple of other activities remain to be completed namely the production of educational posters on coastal sharks and the artisanal shark fishery in Seychelles respectively and the formulation and submission of the terminal report to MFF. Check back for further updates in the coming weeks (Contributed by John Nevill).

Friday, January 7, 2011

GIF assists in establishment of Artisanal Shark Fishers Association

GIF’s founding mandate is to mainstream sustainable development, in particular by forming partnerships with the private sector. In Seychelles the primary economic sectors with environmental impact are tourism, fisheries and production landscapes and so these have formed the focus of much of GIF’s work to date.

Previous posts on this blog (see posts of 21 & 29 June and July 18 & 31 2009) have described the GIF/MFF project with Seychelles artisanal shark fisherman to build their capacity to better manage their fishery and fulfil their roles under the National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (NPOA). This project is now coming to an end and one of the key outcomes was attained at the beginning of December namely the establishment and legal registration of a new Association under the Registrar of Associations Act.

The “Artisanal Shark Fishers’ Association” (ASFA) or “Lasosyasyon Peser Reken” received its certificate of registration and hence became a legal entity on the 1st December 2010. The Articles of Association include, amongst other things, the Mission Statement and Objectives of the association and these are reproduced below:

Mission Statement:
“To secure a sustainable artisanal shark fishery and the livelihoods of its practitioners”.
• To promote and protect the artisanal shark fishery and the rights of the fishers therein.
• To promote sound development practices which foster a sustainable artisanal shark fishery and an improved standard of living for fishers.
• Represent shark fishers’ concerns and interests, and protect their rights in appropriate committees and fora.
• Seek to develop new markets and outlets for artisanal shark fishery produce.
• Add value to artisanal shark fishery produce and activities through innovation and capacity building.
• Promote optimal usage of sharks caught.
• To generate, raise or access funds and develop strategic partnerships to advance the objectives above.

The Association will be holding its first AGM early in the New Year where the full articles will be endorsed (and if necessary amended) by members and the Board of Directors for the first two year cycle elected. GIF will continue to supply some basic secretarial support to ASFA in its formative stages until such time as the association has sufficient capacity to operate independently.

The formation of ASFA is a fundamental step in empowering artisanal shark fishers to: protect their rights and livelihoods in a changing legislative and management environment and better manage the fishery for a sustainable future. We wish them all the best in their future endeavours (Contributed by John Nevill).

Friday, November 19, 2010

Green Islands Foundation launches new logo

The Green Islands Foundation is a Seychelles registered NGO dedicated to the mainstreaming of sustainable development. Established on 11th April 2006, GIF aims to establish equilibrium and potential synergies of development and environment at the core of its operations and seeks, as its main activity, to bridge the gap between the private sector and national environmental programmes. It also functions as coordinator for environmental initiatives on and relating to Denis Island as well as initiating coastal zone management projects on Grand-Anse Praslin and North Island.

The logo designed by Mr. Aubrey Adeline depicts GIF’s modus operandi: mainstreaming sustainable development, which can be in all aspects, from life itself in the form of a green leaf captured in the logo, to island management as well as to the marine (blue colour) and terrestrial ecosystems (green colour).

For more information on the projects and activities of GIF, feel free to check out its blogs on the following addresses: www.greenislandsfoundation.blogspot.com or www.denisisland.blogspot.com

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What have GIF been up to?

It’s been a while since you’ve last read a post on our blog- rest assured that we have been putting ideas together while finalizing various contracts and project documents. Now, we can spare few minutes to provide a brief of our adventures!

GIF have now finalized and signed contracts for two projects- the large project under the MFF initiative entitled “Coastal development and ecosystem Modelling as a tool to enable improved local and national policy decision-making processes” is a joint submission by both GIF and Marine Conservation Society of Seychelles (MCSS) and a small grant as part of the GEF SGP programme for a project entitled “Increasing public awareness and educating the local communities in understanding the behavioural ecology of sharks in order to reduce conflicts between fishermen and dive operators in Seychelles.”(See photos in side bar)

MFF Large project: This project was ranked the highest among all regional submissions and is the only one for the Seychelles. Dr. David Rowat from MCSS signed the contract on behalf of both organizations. This is a 24month project, involving various partners (government and private) and will develop a baseline, parameters and technical tools to provide a platform for enhanced coastal zone management. Four sites (Denis and North Islands, Beau Vallon and Intendance) representative of the diversity of coastal development scenarios in Seychelles have been selected for the implementation of pilot projects. Each site will be surveyed and assessed for the environmental services they provide and the biodiversity assemblages and economic activities they support. These baselines will be used to develop environmental parameters and technical tools to inform planning and development decision-making processes in particular the scoping, undertaking and assessment of EIAs. The projects will also be used to develop public information packs on coastal development and management to promote and empower the involvement of local communities in the decision-making process. The project’s objective is to strengthen the technical and scientific basis of, and empower local community involvement in, coastal management decision making-processes.

SGP: Working with local communities forms an integral part of GIF’s list of activities and these communities are of various age groups and field of expertise. GIF’s project will assist in the successful implementation of some of the work programmes of the national plan of action for the conservation and management of sharks (Shark NPOA).

This proposal which will be targeting the conservation of biodiversity will tie in well with GIF’s main goal of mainstreaming sustainable development. Shark meat is a major food and income sources for various local and global communities. On the local scale, sharks as an apex predator have crucial roles in the food web as well as on the ecosystem. It is also an excellent protein source for locals since the first human settlement. However, sharks have been fished for decades and with increased long-line fisheries and improved technology, have led to its declining population. There is the crucial need to sustainably manage the existing stock and educate the local communities with high reliance on this resource, not only for conservation purposes but also to ensure that the sharks’ ecological roles are maintained. Nevertheless, there are a lot of unknowns about the sharks, especially in terms of the population structure and phylogeny. There is also increased conflicts between the fishers and the diving industry due to the high shark fishing activity occurring on sites with large numbers of sharks This proposal aims to increase the local ecological knowledge of the local communities from all walks of life (researchers, fishermen, and other biodiversity users) on the importance of understanding the biological aspects of key species that are crucial to their livelihoods, on the socio-economic and ecological levels. Once this has been identified, with increased public awareness, local communities can better manage this resource which is vital to their livelihood and at the same time, further enhance biodiversity conservation for future generations.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Gathering Artisanal Shark Fishery Catch Data

The current information on the nature of the artisanal shark catch is highly deficient. Some information is gathered on an ad-hoc basis at the main fish market in Victoria – but by this stage the vast majority of sharks have been dressed – i.e. head, tail and fins removed – leaving just a trunk which is often limiting to correct species identification. Monitoring at the landing grounds is also difficult as the time when the boats return to each of their respective stations, varies with weather, workload and location of fishing activity. Furthermore the fishers will often dress the shark while at sea as it: serves to prevent spoiling of the meat, provides for more space and reduces the load in the small boats as they return to shore.

Good catch information is the best means for understanding the status and spatiotemporal distribution of the various species of shark that go to make the shark stocks on the Mahe plateau. Only with such data can informed and adaptive management decisions be made for the benefit of the sustainability of the stocks and the artisanal fishers who depend on them.

So what is required is a simple and pragmatic method of gathering useful data on the catch by the fishermen themselves. Furthermore, this information gathered by the fishers and derived from a catch gained by the application of their own skill, knowledge and effort is in effect their information/property and should be managed and utilised accordingly.

This project therefore seeks to develop a data gathering method that fits in with the practicalities of the fishers’ demanding work and yet still provides useful information. To realize this objective there are several factors to be considered. Central to this is to ensure the standardisation of information collected. The nomenclature for sharks in Seychelles Creole is complicated: the name for some species of shark varies from one region to the next – the bull shark for example has 4 commonly used Creole names. Likewise several species can be grouped together under one name by local fishermen who do not distinguish between physically similar sharks – this is the case for the shark known locally as “nene pwent” which in fact covers at least 4 species. Research undertaken in 2005 served to clarify somewhat this diversity of terminology but further verification is required. To enable this, the project is developing in tandem with the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) a shark identification key which brings together all the known Creole names for the sharks, this will be tested and no doubt corrected over time by the fishermen themselves. In addition a simple shark data sheet will be developed that can be transferred to waterproof note books and enable the ready recording of data. Information required will be restricted to the date, species and simple size classification for each specimen.

Finally it is proposed, under the GIF/MFF project to purchase 3 digital cameras with waterproof dive casings to enable the fishermen to photograph any unusual sharks or specimens they are unsure of the identity of. They can then dress the shark and its species identity can still be investigated from the images captured.

The first draft of a data sheet has been developed in consultation with Mr. Vincent Lucas of SFA and will next be discussed with the fishers to get their feedback on the practicality of the format proposed. This is a key first step in empowering the fishers to take charge of their own data collection and thereby fulfill one of their key obligations under the National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (Contributed by John Nevill).

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Artisanal Shark Fishermen

In the Seychelles context Artisanal Shark Fishermen (ASF) are loosely defined as artisanal fishermen who actively target shark and generate approximately 30% or more of their annual income from that fishery.

The use of shark nets was banned in 1998 (Prohibition of net fishing of sharks Reg. 16c 1st August 1998) due to concern regarding by-catch of turtles, marine mammals and non-target whale sharks. Following this the method known locally as “drag” – an anchored long line up to 400 metres in length with anything from 40-120 baited hooks on drop lines – has been developed and utilised in the fishery.

The ASF operate out of small open boats with outboard engines and their range is in general restricted to within 15 miles of their home anchorage. Each boat is typically able to set up to four drag per trip. The fishermen utilise their specialised knowledge of the Seychelles plateau, often passed down within family units, and set their lines in the evening to drift over prime areas and catch the shark as they mobilize in the evening and night time. The lines are retrieved in early morning. The method is largely non-selective, though variations in depth of hook, bait and habitat fished can be utilised to target certain species.

The fishery is typified by the diverse and full use of shark products for the local market. Fresh shark meat is sold each day at the fish market, the meat is also salted and sundried for sale. The especially thick skin of the head of the shark and for some species the entire skin is often flayed and salted for separate sale as a local delicacy “lapo latet reken”. The stomachs are likewise sometimes salted for use, whilst the teeth, spines and jaws of some species are used to make jewelry or for sale as trophies. The fins are of course cut and dried for export to the Asian market.

What is important to note is that this constitutes a wise use of the resource – landing and using the whole animal – as opposed to the wasteful and unsustainable practice of simply fining sharks and discarding the carcass at sea. Furthermore this fishery supplies an important source of cheap, quality protein to the local population. The economic difficulties that Seychelles has passed through over the last 2 years have underlined its importance as local demand for shark meat has increased considerably due to its value-for-money pricing relative to many other fish species.

The GIF project is still in the process of identifying all the ASF on the three main islands and attempting to bring them together so that they can cooperate to better manage their fishery and also properly defend their rights to their traditional livelihood. The site visit to Praslin early this month (2nd to 4th July) was successful with 5 ASF identified there and interviewed. The next step is to bring the ASF together so that they can identify and discuss their common concerns and deliberate on how they can best cooperate.

It is important that all ASF are identified because the National Plan of Action for sharks will seek at some point to license the fishery and close it to newcomers as part of the process of improving management of shark stocks on the plateau – a complete listing is therefore required to protect the rights of these fishers to accessing their means of livelihood(Contributed By John Nevill).

Friday, July 16, 2010

Integrated coastal zone management workshop on Grand Anse Praslin

The coastal zone project on the other pilot site obtained national media attention for various reasons. First and foremost, it brought Praslin into the limelight, showcasing a national focus of an active local community taking the necessary steps to assist in conserving what they have now, not only for their benefits but also for those yet to come. Furthermore, this is a novel project in the Seychelles and hence deserved a wider audience.

To our surprise which turned out to be a good one, we had quite a good stakeholder turnout, which surpassed my expectation. It was a good chance for us to learn how we can assist a dynamic community where coastal zone issues are primordial to their livelihoods The main aim of the workshop was to increase awareness of the stakeholders to the project, identify & prioritize the coastal issues on the Grand Anse-Amitie coast of Praslin and seek preliminary feedback on potential solutions, propose/approve key indicators identified to establish the necessary baselines and establish a steering committee for the Praslin site.

Please click on the link below to read the full Nation’s article: www.nation.sc/index.php/index.php?art=19699

To view the media coverage for the workshop, click on either links below:

You tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohhWrr50sPY

Daily motion: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xe1cki_iczm-workshop-on-grand-anse-praslin_tech -
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