Saturday, 18 April 2015

Interviewing fishermen and testing GIF shark identification guide

As you may know, because of our increasing experience with shark education under a GEF SGP funded project, GIF has recently teamed up with the Fishermen and Boat Owners Association for an activity implemented by the IOC-SmartFish project through its FAO managed components. GIF will assist with the education part of their project to inform both fishermen and children about the effects of shark finning.

Before the shark finning project kicks off, we wanted to know how effective our campaign will be. Therefore we needed to know how people around Seychelles currently perceive sharks and understand their knowledge about shark finning. To achieve this, we developed a shark finning questionnaire targeting either fishermen or children with the hope that we can target as many different people as possible to get a baseline idea of where the gaps in knowledge lie. After the project we will go back to the fishermen and ask them the same questions, seeing if our work has changed the views and opinions and determine if the project can be considered a success!

For the GEF SGP shark education project, we are developing a Seychelles specific shark identification guide with the help of internationally renowned shark artist Marc Dando and local shark expert John Nevil. However, obviously we do not know everything about sharks and fishermen all around the inner islands have a wealth of knowledge that can help our identification booklet become the leading guide on sharks caught in the artisanal fisheries. The second draft is now completed and we wanted to test the guide with fishermen so we can take their valuable feedback and enhance the quality of the guide for the final version.

For both projects, we needed to get in touch with fishermen outside of Mahe and being able to combine the two, the GIF team set out to Praslin and La Digue to find as many ‘victims’ for our ID guide test and interviews as possible during the three days we stayed on the islands. With the assistance of Mr Green and Mrs Sopha from the Praslin Fishermen’s Association as well as Ray Payet from the La Digue Fishermen’s Association we managed to track down many fishermen who were all willing to answer our questions and provided valuable input on the different Kreole names of sharks on the different islands, pointed out regional varieties in the way some shark species look compared to other regions and provided their views on shark finning.
This was again a very informative and enjoyable trip and hopefully we will be able to provide all the helpful people with a free shark identification guide when it’s finished AND we will be able to come back soon to talk more about shark finning.

As always it was a pleasure to talk to the guys close to the action and the first ones to pick up interesting bits and pieces of information on what’s happening in our oceans. A big thank you goes out to all the fishermen who selflessly provided us with their ideas, knowledge and a little gossip here and there! Also, Indian Ocean Lodge was a very comfortable place to stay (we could interview some fishermen right on the beach in front of the hotel!) and we thank you for your support.

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