Landslip in Seychelles © Greg Bell
Studies have been carried out to establish the extent of the impacts of the December 2004 tsunami on the marine environment, and coastal reefs in particular. According to the New Partnership for Africa's Development, Seychelles' coastal reefs suffered damage by being in the direct line of the waves, especially on the main island of Mahe. A report from the Seychelles Centre for Marine Research and Technology has said that the extent of reef damage is worse on carbonate reefs such as around Moyenne Island and Anse Cimetierre. Granitic reefs such as at Grand Rocher seem to have been better able to withstand the damage.
Seychelles reefs have been recovering in places from the extensive bleaching that took place in 1998 and subsequently. Very heavy and prolonged rainfall and landslips (left) followed the tsunami event in Seychelles. Sediment in rainwater run-off can also lead to coral bleaching. The tsunami and rains seem to have been a setback in the recovery process in some reefs.
Scops Owl hits the high note
In August, the Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS) launched a new 500 Seychelles Rupee note. In keeping with most Seychelles currency, it features key wildlife species, including the Seychelles Scops Owl or Syer on one side, and a sailfish on the other.
A UK firm won the tender to produce the note, 1.5 million of which have been printed. The new note reduces dependence on the 100 Rupee note, which Central Bank Governor Francis Chang-Leng said accounts for over 90 percent of the currency in circulation. Mr Chang-Leng said that in most cases a country's highest denomination should cover around 60 percent of the notes in circulation and that the over reliance of the 100 Rupee note led to the decision, in 2002, to create the 500 Rupee note.
Help us fly
Highlighting Important Bird Areas
A new logo has been created to help identify and promote Important Bird Areas or IBAs. This is the name given to sites identified by BirdLife International as most vital for protecting rare birds. In Seychelles there are around 30 IBAs, including Cousin and Cousine islands. The new logo will be added to panels and signposts in protected areas that are IBAs, and used in publications.
IOTC meets in Seychelles
The Scientific Committee of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission met in Seychelles in November 2005. Rachel Bristol represented Nature Seychelles/BirdLife International, as part of BirdLife's ongoing programme of interaction with the IOTC.
Loading tuna © Nigel Henri
Among other topics, the meeting discussed the report from the first meeting of the IOTC By-catch Working Group in July, which BirdLife also attended. The role of this group is to assess the impact of by-catch of vulnerable species of seabird, turtle and shark within the tuna fisheries of the Indian Ocean. BirdLife welcomed the commitment from IOTC that this By-catch Group will meet for two days per year in 2006 and 2007. Experience from elsewhere has shown the importance of meeting annually in order to get enough momentum to address by-catch issues.
Lack of data from onboard observer programmes currently limits both fish stock assessment and knowledge of seabird and turtle by-catch in the Indian Ocean. Such programmes, which are mandatory in areas of the Southern Ocean, are currently only voluntary in the Indian Ocean, and only have a very low level of coverage.
Tom Nishida (Japan) presented a set of guidelines for IOTC Observer Programmes that contain suggestions for data standards. BirdLife would like to see these guidelines substantially strengthened, to eventually include mandatory requirements for recording seabird and turtle by-catch.
However, the crucial next step is for the IOTC to make firmer requests of fishing nations that they undertake such programmes. The IOTC meets again in late February 2006.
Marine Science Meeting, Mombassa
The fourth meeting of the Marine Science for Management Association grantees was held in Mombassa, Kenya, in early November, on the topic of monitoring performance of projects approved under by the association.
Nature Seychelles CEO Nirmal Shah gave the opening remarks, and Scientific Coordinator Rachel Bristol gave a presentation on Nature Seychelles' input to the project Seabirds as bio-indicators of tropical marine ecosystems: a regional study in the Western Indian Ocean (see page 25). Presentations on this project were also given by Matthieu Le Corre and Jaime Ramos.
Alliance for Zero Extinctions
The Critically Endangered Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher - one of the most threatened species in Seychelles © Jeff Watson
Other species are to be included as soon as enough information is available to assess the level of threat to them. By starting with the species that are most endangered, the Alliance aims to create a front line of defence against extinction, until broader conservation measures can catch up. The Alliance was officially launched on 12 December 2005.It is a joint initiative of, to date, over 50 biodiversity conservation organisations, including Nature Seychelles. So far, 595 sites have been identified worldwide as vital to prevent the extinction of 794 of the world's most threatened species.
SIDS Meeting in Seychelles
The latest Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) meeting was held in Seychelles in October 2005. The objective of the meeting was to review priorities and mechanisms for implementing the UN MS at national, regional international and levels. Nature Seychelles CEO Nirmal Jivan Shah gave a presentation on Oceans and Coastal Management, to identify how national, regional and international partners can best work together for the pursuit of MDGs and the implementation of the MS.
There was identification of priority issues and formation of Working Groups to report on priority issues HIV/AIDS, Disaster Preparedness, Water Management and Ocean and Coasts, with Integrated approaches to Sustainable Development.