Friday, 21 October 2016

Green Islands Foundation kicks off threatened fish species project!

Yesterday, Green Islands Foundation had the pleasure of starting a new fisheries project entitled: THE DEVELOPMENT OF A CO-MANAGEMENT PLAN, DESIGNED BY FISHERS, TO MINIMISE THE IMPACT OF THE SEYCHELLES ARTISANAL FISHERY ON THREATENED SPECIES with an inception workshop for Mahe fishermen at the SFA Training room in Victoria.

With this new project Green Islands Foundation wants to investigate and propose ways to reduce the Seychelles artisanal fishery’s impact on globally threatened species. Using a new approach, GIF will do this by facilitating artisanal fishers to formulate solutions to this issue themselves. The workshop marked the official start of this 2.5 year project funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Conservation International Japan under the GEF Satoyama initiative. During the workshop the project goals and expected outcomes were presented to fisher communities on Mahe and to the project partners such as the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA).

What will we be doing?

Arjan de Groene explained how GIF, with help from the fishing community, will try and get an idea of how common threatened fish species were in the past. Species of interest to the project are the ones that are currently on the IUCN red-list, which is an indicator that these species are globally threatened, but in some cases still occur in reasonable numbers on the Mahe Plateau. The project will also include species of interest proposed by the fishing community, focusing on fish that are not on the IUCN red-list, but are of concern to the people catching them. Then, a full year of surveying the market place and various fish landing sites across Mahe will be done to show what the current status of these species is. We will call upon fishermen, fish sellers, traders and anyone who sees any of the species we are interested in to report them to us. We will have a team ready to come over to photograph and measure any interesting fish that get reported to us!

After gathering all this information on past and present status of our species of interest, this information will then be shared with fishermen across Seychelles and through continuous discussion with as many representatives of the fishing community as possible, the project will try to get agreement on threatened species management measures which will be proposed to SFA for formulation under the 2014 Fisheries Act, in close collaboration with all partners. This bottom-up approach to fisheries management is new to Seychelles and GIF hopes that through successful implementation of this project, fishermen will be able to show that fisher-led management of threatened species fish stocks can be done.

What do we want to achieve?
The project fits in the country's Blue Economy strategy to reduce fishing pressure and promote sustainable management of artisanal fisheries. It will eventually result in improved site-level conservation status of various threatened species and contribute to a more diverse, resilient and productive marine ecosystem on the Mahé plateau.

Resilience indicators
Ms Veronique Bonnelame explained to the group that we wanted to do an assessment of how threatened species are managed now by asking the group to give us a score for several indicator questions relating to ecosystem protection, biodiversity, livelihoods and other topics that tell us how well threatened species are managed. We will do this assessment again later during the project to see if the scores have gone up, which means the situation has improved since the inception workshop. So a big thank you to Veronique for helping us with this!
Thank you to our sponsors!
Before the workshop a symbolic handover was done of a vehicle which was partly donated to the Green Islands Foundation by the project funders GEF Satoyama and partly by several local businesses namely SACOSCable and Wireless and Sun Motors Ltd showcasing their support to the project and marine conservation in Seychelles. This vehicle will be used by GIF for daily implementation of the project such as fisher interviews and catch monitoring all over Mahe throughout the project duration. So keep an eye out for the GIF van in the upcoming years and know that they’re trying to help make fisheries in Seychelles more sustainable!

How can you help?
We will provide regular updates on project progress on our website and facebook page. And for anyone who ever buys a fish in Seychelles, we will put up posters at the landing sites and a list of fish species on our website. Give us a call if you see anything interesting!

An overview of the GEF Satoyama project can be found on

Some example species that we will be looking at in our project:

Lare dore or Ornate Eagle Ray (Aetomylaeus vespertilio)
Filanbaz or Green Humphead Parrotfish (Bolbometopon muricatum)
Marto Rouz or Scalloped Hammerhead (Sphyrna lewini)

Welcoming remarks and resilience indicator workshop: Ms Veronique Bonnelame
Project presentation: Mr Arjan de Groene
Species and monitoring presentation: Mr John Nevill
Project staff: Ms Jennifer Appoo and Mr Frank Volcere


  1. Bit of an underestimate. There are 26 species of bony fishes that have been positively identified in Seychelles waters plus 29 species of Sharks. OK, some of the Sharks are very deep water but it is a pity you did not present the full picture.

    1. Dear Anonymous,

      I am unsure what you mean. What is an underestimate? I assume you are referring to the number of species in Seychelles waters that are considered threatened as per IUCN? If that is what you mean, I also assume that you are referring to the three species we posted as an example in our blog. Please rest assured that those are just example species. We will obviously investigate more species under our project. We have identified 19 species that occur on the Mahe Plateau that are considered threatened according to IUCN. However, the IUCN list is not always representative of the situation in Seychelles. Therefore we are currently going through the process of identifying additional species that are of concern to artisanal fishermen themselves. At the moment the 'additional species of interest'-list stands at another 10 species, but this is work in progress and we are liaising with the various fisher groups on which species we should include as well.

      Another point that I would like to emphasize is that our project focuses only on demersal species occurring on the Mahe Plateau and are part of the artisanal fish catch and are not included in the Mahe Plateau management plan which focuses on commercial species. That means the pelagic species that are considered threatened are excluded from our project.

      Unfortunately in our blog posts we cannot explain the whole project in detail, because it would become a long and specific article which would only be interesting to the few specialists on the topic. But I hope my clarification above clarifies the point you raised. If not, please contact us directly, because it is of paramount importance that there are no misunderstandings about what we are trying to achieve and we are always available for discussion and suggestions.

  2. This might help your approach?

    1. Dear Anonymous,
      thank you for sending this link. Would you by any chance have a digital copy available? Or perhaps a location where we could download this paper? Unfortunately we do not have access to scientific journals at the moment.