Q&A at science's premier gathering on the Indian ocean

corals-and-fish-photos-by-Michel-Vely-64Where to next for coral reefs? Can a view of the future of corals be predicted by science? What about fisheries - with world fisheries increasing, is there enough fish to keep us going? What are the effects of overfishing and how does climate change affect fisheries and fish ecosystems? How do Tuna and Seabirds respond to global warming? What can looking at the ocean from above tell us about preservation of ecological resources? These were only a few of the questions being asked and answered by 470 experts of 26 nationalities who attended the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) sixth scientific symposium in Saint Denis, Réunion Island in late August.

Nature Seychelles, a member of WIOMSA, was represented at the symposium by Nirmal Shah, its CEO and David Derand, its

Coral and fish © Michel Vely

Scientific Coordinator.
The well-attended and popular symposium brought together scientists, practitioners, academics, researchers as well as students from East and Southern Africa and the Western Indian Ocean islands. They came to share knowledge, experience and solutions to the challenges facing our coastal and marine environments.

"The symposium is very important for exchanging ideas and presenting new research. Island States and the western Indian ocean region continue to face many marine challenges". Said Nirmal Shah, elated at never having missed one of these exciting and brain-stretching symposia. "The symposium enables dialogue and solutions to be provided to many important problems".

The themes picked for the symposium were selected to address issues related to global warming, fisheries, coral reefs, conservation of  endangered marine species, challenges of economic activities in coastal and marine environment, and effectiveness of conservation initiatives among other areas of interest.

The Seychelles marine environment was the subject of many of the presentations - as were all the countries of the region - that were made, and can benefit from proposals presented.

Nature Seychelles, together with Birdlife South Africa, presented a new project aimed at extending Seychelles' Important Bird Areas to the marine environment. Breeding Seabirds in Seychelles are rather well protected at their breeding colonies on land, but there is increasing pressure on their feeding grounds, notably out at sea due to fishing pressure and  by-catch, and the overall impact of global climate change. Marine IBAs are intended to complement the existing protection of Seabirds.

WIOMSA also held its elections for the Board of Trustees. We are elated to report that Nirmal Shah was re-elected as a member of the Board of Governors by a majority of votes. Shah has been elected to three previous WIOMSA Boards and it seems the membership are very pleased with his performance. Quite the feather in Seychelles' cap.

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