Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Learning about sharks with Praslin fishermen and schoolchildren

Group photo with the children from
Grand Anse Praslin primary
Shark education by Green Islands Foundation is not only limited to the main island Mahe, but to everyone in Seychelles. That is why last weekend we went to Praslin to meet with a group of fishermen and school children to raise awareness on sharks. The workshops were organized as part of the "Shark Fin Soup" project being implemented by the Fishermen and Boat Owner's Association (FBOA) in collaboration of the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) and GIF.

SFA representative Elisa Socrate presenting
 shark catch in Seychelles
A group of 17 fishermen from the Praslin Fishermen Association (PFA) attended the workshop held on Friday 1st July 2016. The aim of the workshop was to address the issue of declining shark populations and initiate discussions on how ways to achieve sustainable shark fishery in Seychelles. Presentations were given on the project itself by Bertille Bonne from FBOA detailing the project objectives and activities that have been implemented. Elisa Socrate from SFA presented the history of shark fishing and catch trends in Seychelles. Arjan de Groene from GIF talked about the importance of sharks and initiated discussions on how to eradicate the practice of shark finning and promote sustainable fishing practices.

Arjan de Groene from GIF presenting
the Importance of Sharks
There were various comments and valuable suggestions from the fishermen themselves showing that they are already thinking of ways to preserve shark populations in Seychelles. Fishermen from PFA were strongly against shark finning and support the need for stricter regulations and controls towards this practice. PFA’s suggestions, concerns and ideas will be shared with SFA in the hope that this will initiate discussions about how fishermen and SFA can work together to reduce fishing pressure on the shark as top predator. At the end of the workshop, the fishermen each received a project tshirt, a copy of the educational comic book developed under the project and GIF's shark identification guide for artisanal fishery.

The fishermen from Praslin sharing their views

The group of children playing the Shark and Rays game
The following day, we reached out to a group of school children from Grand Anse Praslin Primary. Through educational games and activities the children learnt about different shark species found in Seychelles, the role of sharks in the ocean and the threats they face such as overfishing, finning and climate change. After receiving their copy of the Shark Fin Soup comic book the children immediately started reading about the adventures of Zak with the sharks.

Reading their new comic book The Shark Fin Soup
These workshops were another chance for GIF to both teach and learn about sharks in Seychelles!

The Shark Fin Soup project is funded by the Indian Ocean Commission SmartFish Programme, a regional fisheries programme funded by the European Union and co-implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The project is planned to continue until September 2016 whereby another fishermen workshop will be organized with fishermen on Mahe as well as a wide distribution of the comic book.

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