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Fish aggregating devices are objects placed on the ocean surface to attract tuna to make it easier for fishermen to fish. The Fish Guard Initiative interviewed Keith André to find out how it's harming the traditional Seychelles fishing industry.

(Seychelles News Agency) - An area around the main harbour of Seychelles’ Praslin island, the nation's second-most populated island, has been demarcated as a voluntary fisheries closure zone in a bid to help maintain the fish stock.

The project, an initiative of the Praslin Fishing Association, aims to conserve part of the Baie St Anne by limiting fishing activities from taking place in that area for a period of time. The government has welcomed the voluntary project.

Three yellow buoys labelled ‘Fisheries Closure’ are indicators of the closure zones, which went into operation on November 1. All vessels are requested to keep a safe distance and to navigate with extreme precaution when approaching the demarcated areas.

The initiative aims to help maintain the fish stock in that area and give ample time for the stock to grow. The closure will remain in force until April 30, 2020.

"We as fishermen have noticed that the size of fish is decreasing and so is the amount. We have taken examples of similar projects that have been carried out in other places and have had interesting results,” said Darrel Green, the chairperson of the Praslin Fishers Association.

He said that they were inspired by a similar project carried out in Rodrigues, an autonomous island of Mauritius, where a fisheries closure has been placed on octopus.

Fishermen on Rodrigues noticed that over time, there was a significant reduction in their catch because of unsustainable fishing practices and the effect of climate change on the reefs. The community started a voluntary closure of the octopus’ fishery for two months of the year. As a result, there has been an increase in the catch during the past four years.

Green said that the voluntary closure being carried out on Praslin “is not a project through which you will see the result in six months.”

He added that the association wants the closure to be something annual.

The project is mainly targeting artisanal fishermen who make a living off species living on the reef. During the months the bay will be closed, these fishermen will have to fish elsewhere.

“This is the initiative of a group of people and I think that fishermen in the Baie St Anne area need to realise that this is an idea coming from the community and everyone needs to accept and respect the initiative,” said Green.

Another aspect of the project is to serve as an educational model for the fishermen community on Praslin.

“We don’t need the government to always come and tell us to protect our own resources. As fisherman we need to put our heads together to realise this project and conserve what we have for the future generation,” said Green.

Fisheries is the second top contributor to the Seychelles economy.

The Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture has welcomed the project. The principal secretary of the fisheries department, Jude Talma, said in a previous interview that this is a good initiative.

“For many years now, we have been talking about sustainable fishing and it is finally getting through to the fishermen. This sector really depends on them and the action they take. I would like to congratulate them for taking this step,” said Talma.

Over the years, Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has put a lot of emphasis on sustainable fishing. One of the initiatives is a marine spatial planning exercise to expand protected areas and a fisheries management plan for the Mahe Plateau to progressively move from an open-access fishery to a more controlled fishery.

(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles’ experiences, challenges, achievements and upcoming plans for advancing the Blue Economy were highlighted by the island nation’s Vice President Vincent Meriton at the 32nd summit of the African Union.

Seychelles News Agency: A new campaign is to be launched in Seychelles to better inform the public on the world’s first sovereign blue bond, a financial instrument designed to support sustainable marine and fisheries projects.

Two months ago, a Malagasy association signed a 10-year, $2.7 billion fishing deal with a group of Chinese companies to send 330 fishing vessels to Madagascar. The Agence Malagasy de Développement économique et de Promotion d’entreprises (AMDP) made the deal, which it says was designed to promote the country’s “blue economy.” It did so without consulting the fisheries ministry, the national environment office, civil society groups, or local fishers, who are already struggling with foreign competition for Madagascar’s dwindling marine stocks. Many of these are now calling for the deal to be scrapped. The critics say the AMDP failed to set up an open bidding process and did not conduct an environmental impact assessment or any public consultation. No draft of the deal has been made public.
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