Grants :: Small Grant Facilities :: Building the capacity of artisanal shark fishers to participate fully and effectively in the Seychelles National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks
Telling the shark species without the body , Seychelles © MFF Seychelles, 2011
This Green Islands Foundation (GIF) project aimed to support implementation of the National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (NPOA) by building the capacity of Artisanal Shark Fishers (ASF) to fulfil their role under the plan, thereby safeguarding their livelihoods and ensuring a healthy and productive coastal ecosystem for the broader artisanal fishery industry, local dive operators and other stakeholders. The project also sought to enlist the cooperation of ASF in gathering shark catch data, and to promote public awareness of the ecological importance of sharks and wise use of marine resources.
A healthy shark population in the 32,000 km² expanse of the Seychelles mid-oceanic plateau is central to maintaining a balanced and productive coastal ecosystem that benefits all stakeholders, both consumptive and non-consumptive. To this end, the government of the Seychelles launched the NPOA in 2007 to ensure sustainable fishing practices. The NPOA recognises that ASF play a key role in the shark catch, but that their lack of capacity poses an obstacle to implementing the plan successfully. This project was launched to remedy this deficiency and engage the ASF in achieving the NPOA’s goals.
Artisanal Shark Fishers (ASF), the Artisanal Shark Fishers’ Association (ASFA), and the NPOA steering committee.
The ASF are now equipped to collect catch data essential for informed shark stock management, and have a formal presence in the NPOA enabling them to voice their opinions and concerns.
Over time, trust was built between the project and ASF, who played a role themselves in developing the project. This collaborative approach reassured them that their interests would be represented and that they would be an integral part of any marine resources management plan.
The main challenge was the resignation of the GIF’s general manager to take up a full-time post with an international agency. He later agreed to resume his GIF work voluntarily.
Another challenge was that the creole shark identification key could not be completed within the project period. In some cases, fishers from different areas use different names for the same shark species, and it takes time to catalogue and reconcile these local variations.
An active blog (http://greenislandsfoundation.blogspot.com) published news of the project’s progress. The Nation newspaper and national television in the Seychelles also covered the initiative. Educational posters focusing on sustainable shark management and shark facts were produced.
The ASF are exclusively male but support their families directly. In future, ASF spouses will be involved in co-managing ASFA activities.
The project contributed to maintaining an ecologically balanced and productive coastal ecosystem, which should in turn be more resilient to the impacts of climate change.
The project has shown how a small amount of seed money can be used to realize (and support further) national objectives. Project sustainability needs to be a priority. In this case, the ASFA is already forming partnerships with other agencies, is looking to secure funding, and is fully engaged with the NPOA.
Central Archipelago, Seychelles
1st Jul 2009 to 31st May 2011
The Seychelles Fishing Authority and NPOA Steering Committee of the Seychelles government provided in-kind support. From civil society, the Praslin Fishers Association provided in-kind support and GIF provided administrative and logistical support. From the private sector, the Indian Ocean Lodge Hotel supplied discounted accommodation on Praslin Island. Mr John Nevill acted as volunteer project manager.
Green Islands Foundation (GIF)
PO Box 246, Victoria, Mahé,
Tel: +248 4288829
“The MFF project helped
us to form an association so that we can work together to protect our fishing rights and use our knowledge to better manage our fishery.”
— CLIFFORD BAMBOCHE
THIRD-GENERATION ASF AND MEMBER OF ASFA