Co-Management Plan For The Mahe Plateau Trap And Line Fishery
Our ocean is under threat. Marine living resources are depleting because of unsustainable economic activities including fisheries.
For a secure future, it is vital to implement sustainable fisheries measures that leave enough fish in our ocean, protect marine ecosystems, and ensure that people who depend on fishing can maintain their livelihoods. Sustainable fisheries will provide for our current and future needs, while also conserving fish stocks and marine ecosystems.
There is a secure pathway to sustainability in the fisheries sector if we are more conscious of the choices we make. Everyone has a role in this new way of thinking. It will require changes to how we harvest and consume fish.
Measuring sustainability for fisheries in Seychelles
The Mahé plateau supports an artisanal fishery that is critically important for food security and and economic development of our nation.. The main species targeted by the hand line fishery are fish such bourzwa, bordmar (snappers), vyey (groupers) and kapitenn rouz, laskar, baksou (emperrors), whereas the trap fishery targets kordonnyen (rabbitfish), kakatwa (parrotfish) and rouze (goatfish). For years fishers have raised concerns over decreasing catch rates and sizes of target species. Recent scientific studies have produced multiple lines of evidence that overfishing of some of the major plateau target species is likely to be occurring and that management intervention is urgently needed.
Once scientific study has shown that the average catch rate (catch-per-unit-effort, ‘CPUE’) across nine target species groups has decreased by 65% since the early 1990’s. The catch rate of snappers has reduced from around 36 kilos per day in 1994 to only 16 kg per day in 2016. Likewise, the jobfish catch rate has dropped from 45 kilos per day in 1990 to 24 kilos per day in 2016 The reduction in catch rates and other evidence of overfishing has prompted the introduction of measures proposed in the Mahe Plateau Trap and Line Fishery Co-management Plan to improve sustainability of our fish stocks. Such measure include a size limit for bourzwa (Emperor red snapper) and zob gris (Green jobfish), two of the most commercially important species.
The Co-management Plan for the Mahé Plateau Trap and Line Fishery
In February 2020, the government of Seychelles gazetted the Mahe Plateau Trap and Line Fishery Co-management Plan. The Plan provides a pathway for the phased introduction of a series of management measures to rebuild and maintain healthy fish stocks. The development of the Plan and identification of management measures was led by stakeholders. Critically, the Plan is implemented through a co-management institution, ensuring that fishers and other stakeholders will have a role in decision-making for the fishery.
The goal of the Plan
A sustainable demersal fishery that delivers best possible ecological, economic, and social benefits for the Seychelles through effective, transparent and participatory management.
Measures to be implemented in phase 1 of the plan are summarised below.
Be a responsible buyer!
- Only purchase and consume bourzwa (Emperor red snapper) that are larger than 32 cm Fork Length (FL).
- Only purchase and consume zob gri (Green jobfish) that are greater than 32 cm Fork Length (FL).
Be a responsible fisher!
- Release all bourzwa that are less than 32 cm, Fork Length (FL)
- Release all zob gri that are less than 32 cm,Fork Length (FL)
- Abide to a the maximum limit of 25 active traps per licensed fishing vessel.
- Semi industrial longline fishing vessels; Abide to a bag limit of 20 demersal fish of any species per fishing trip.
- Fish only the maximum limit of 6 traps per boat per day on spawning aggregation sites during spawning season from September to April.
- Do not leave fish traps overnight on kordonnyen’ spawning sites during the kordonnyen spawning season
Enjoy but do it responsibly and sustainably!
- Abide to a bag limit of 5 bourzwa (Emperor red snapper) and 5 zob gri (Green jobfish) per person per day.
- Abide to a bag limit of 20 demersal fish of any species per person per day.
- Abide to a maximum limit of 2 traps per vessel per fishing trip.
The phases/the future
This is the first management plan for the fishery sector which has involved considerable stakeholder consultation throughout it’s preparation and is in keeping with an the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) management. Its implementation is taking place in phases. A phased implementation is necessary as the Plan is a continual improvement process which involves some legal and operational actions that will take time to put in place. Furthermore, some of the management strategies require further elaboration and consultation prior to implementation.
The plan will be implemented in phases separated by approximately 2 years.
The law related to these measures
A person who contravenes the Fisheries (Mahe Plateau trap and line fishery) Regulations 2021 commits an offence and is liable to a fine provided under section 77(3) of the Fisheries Act, 2014. Upon conviction the person is liable to a fine up to SCR 20, 000.
The Implementation Committee
To oversee the implementation of the Plan and its future review, an Implementation Committee has been established with agreed rules of procedure. The Committee meets regularly to discuss progress and suggest changes to the plan, as appropriate. The membership of the Implementation Committee comprises of a cross section of representative fishery stakeholders (from the fishing industry, related sports, recreational and charter operators and concerned interest groups) that are considered either as primary or secondary stakeholders.
Primary stakeholders are those that benefit directly from or are adversely affected by actions of the management plan. They may be wholly dependent on the fishery resource or related services for their well-being and have few other options when faced with change.
Secondary stakeholders are those other people and institutions with a stake or interest in the resources, services or area being considered.
The Implementation Committee has 14 voting members split equally between 7 primary and 7 secondary stakeholders. It also allows the inclusion of other primary and secondary stakeholders as observers who can participate in the deliberations of the Implementation Committee but without vote.
Other stakeholders involved
A number of other organisations are stakeholders in the process, including the Seychelles Tourism Board, the Department of Environment (DOE), the Seychelles National Park Authority (SNPA), the Seychelles Port Authority and the Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration (SMSA). Other important organizations are Seychelles Licensing Authority, the Coast Guard, the Police, and the Attorney General’s Office, as well as NGO’s. They are informed of the Committee meetings and receive its minutes. They can participate in any of its meetings as observers.
The Implementation Committee serves as a representative body of key stakeholders in the co-managed fishery. The Committee reports on and makes recommendations to the Minister responsible for Fisheries in relation to the implementation of the co-management plan.
The Committee also reports on and makes recommendations in relation to the performance of the fishery in terms of meeting its objectives under a Performance Monitoring System (PMS), reports on compliance, updates on the status of fish stocks, changes to regulations, and the performance of the education awareness strategies.
Transparency is an important aspect of the co-management process which stakeholders placed much emphasis on during the development of the Plan. The Committee will have responsibility for ensuring that all relevant information and reports on the fishery are made publicly available.
The SFA provides administrative support to the Implementation Committee and provides reports on the PMS, fish stock status and fishery compliance as required.