Disgraceful! Nature Seychelles Reef Rescuers' boat stolen on Praslin

Nature Seychelles has reported the theft of its coral reef restoration project boat from its mooring at Amitie, Praslin. Chief Executive Dr. Nirmal Shah has termed the theft as disgraceful and a disappointing state of affairs that needs to be stopped.

The boat is a 19ft mini mahe white in colour and blue at the bottom with an outboard Yamaha engine

The boat is a 19ft mini mahe white in colour and blue at the bottom with an outboard Yamaha engine

Imagine waking up on Monday morning, ready to go to your place of work, walking out to check the weather conditions, and finding your most important tool of trade missing. This is what happened to Nature Seychelles' Reef Rescuers team based at Amitie, Praslin on Monday 14 June, 2021. The team, as many may know, works on the organization's coral reef restoration project based on Cousin Island Special Reserve. This is an important project for Seychelles aimed at restoring coral reefs that have been affected by Climate Change induced coral bleaching. The world-renowned project that has put Seychelles on the map as a forerunner in coral reef restoration is in its 11th year.

Team leader for the Reef Rescuers, Luca Saponari, reported that he went to check on the weather and sea conditions as is his custom in readiness for the day's dive at the project's site. He noticed that the boat, normally moored opposite the SPTC bus park at Amitie, was missing. He immediately made a report to the police at the Grand Anse Police Station on Praslin. Other authorities including the Seychelles Coast Guard and Marine Police were notified.

The Reef Rescuers team on the boat within the Cousin Island MPA the site of the project

The Reef Rescuers team on the boat within the Cousin Island MPA the site of the project

The boat was purchased with donor funds as part of the equipment for a new phase of the coral reef restoration funded by the Adaptation Fund through the UNDP and the Government of Seychelles. Among other activities, the team has been collecting and stocking underwater nurseries with thousands of coral fragments, which they will raise in readiness for out planting on the reef.

"We are an NGO working for the benefit of Seychelles. We are trying to restore reefs for the future. To benefit fisheries, tourism, and the youth. All this is being done with foreign donor money. They expect that we have community and government support for this," Dr. Shah said. "But if members of the community are sabotaging our work by stealing our boat and our engine, which is basically one of the most important tools that we use, donors are going to get disappointed. They will feel that the community of Seychelles is not supporting this project and wonder why they are wasting their money. If the authorities don't help to retrieve this, they will think the government is not serious about such projects," he adds. Dr. Shah noted that if this is not stopped donors will get disenchanted with investing in Seychelles.

The boat has the Nature Seychelles and Reef Rescuers logos

The boat has the Nature Seychelles and Reef Rescuers logos

Through a social media post, Nature Seychelles appealed to the public to keep an eye out for the boat and to inform the police should they see it or have information pertaining to the theft. Other members of the public have said that there has been a series of boat thefts in the area and called for immediate addressing of the issue as it affects people's livelihoods.

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