The focus of September's WIOMSA Symposium was on marine science and environmental research to provide livelihood solutions and reduce poverty in the region. Seychelles was well represented, with presentations, facilitation and discussion from WIOMSA members present. Nature Seychelles CEO Nirmal Shah presented a case study of Cousin Island Special Reserve, describing what has been learned from eco-tourism and management effectiveness studies.
James Hardcastle presented a study of the Robber Crab, Birgus latro, conducted in partnership with Cousine Island. The species is now extinct from many of the islands in the Indian Ocean. The presentation looked at the rationale and opportunities to bring it back and conserve it on the granitic Seychelles Islands.
The Seychelles Fishing Authority gave presentations on spawning aggregations and sea cucumber harvest management, two major studies in the region. Nature Seychelles is hoping now to look at the role of Cousin Island in protecting local fisheries, in particular spawning aggregations of locally-valuable fish.
Nick Graham, of Newcastle University, UK, presented on research supported by Nature Seychelles (see the feature article on page 18). It painted a bleak picture of the state of Seychelles' coral reefs,
seven years after the 1998 bleaching event, with the first evidence that the bleaching is negatively impacting on biodiversity, fish stocks and tourism revenue.
The fringing reefs in Seychelles are not recovering as rapidly as elsewhere in the region, if at all. The challenge now is to find ways to actively encourage reef recovery, and experiment with techniques and technologies for restoration.