Mariculture And New Food From The Ocean

The farming of aquatic species for food has been going on for centuries. But both marine fisheries and the farming of marine fish have in the last 2 decades reached critical bottlenecks.  New scientific evidence points to sustainable “culture” (mariculture) and  “capture” (fishing) at lower trophic levels as the way to bring about an increase in food from the ocean,  says a new report from the European Commission entitled Food From The Ocean. Continue reading “Mariculture And New Food From The Ocean”

"Blue Economy" needs R&D

Last week, as WIOMSA President, I presided over the opening of the 8th edition of the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Symposium held in Maputo, Mozambique. This week -long gathering of over 400 scientists from the Southern & Eastern African and Western Indian Ocean countries and beyond, is the largest and most prestigious event of its kind in the region. Keynote lectures, Special Sessions, as well as over a hundred presentations of research results and rooms full of scientific posters by local scientists were the highlights. This was the 8th edition. Organised by WIOMSA it has been going on since 1997.

Continue reading “"Blue Economy" needs R&D”

OIl and Whales dont mix

As oil exploration intensifies in our waters, we need to understand the potential impacts of not only oil drilling, if indeed commercially-viable oil deposits are found, but also of oil exploration on marine biodiversity.

Way back in 1990, in a far- reaching paper written by myself and petroleum geologist Phil Plummer, the potential dangers of petroleum exploitation to the marine environment, which is not only beautiful and unique but very important to livelihoods and the present and future economy of Seychelles, were highlighted. Continue reading “OIl and Whales dont mix”

Costs of damage to oceans could bankrupt most nations

A new study says the cost of damaging our oceans could run up to $2 trillion. Pollution, overfishing and climate change are severely compounding each other and shouldn’t be tackled individually, the report warns.

Pollution, overfishing and climate change are just some of the environmental pressures that are amplifying each other more than previously assumed, according to a new study of the world’s oceans by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI). Continue reading “Costs of damage to oceans could bankrupt most nations”

Epiphany at the WIOMSA Symposium

The latest, and exciting, edition of the WIOMSA Marine Science Symposium was held in La Reunion from the 24th to the 27th August and was attended by the top marine scientists and managers working in East and Southern Africa and the Western Indian Ocean islands. This not-to-be-missed symposium is a landmark event organised by the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) where the state of knowledge of many marine and coastal environmental subjects is discussed.

In one of those epiphanic moments, or what my pop psychologist friend Bert used to call an “Aha Insight”, I realised that every keynote address at this Symposium contained reference to Seychelles. This could be serendipity at work….On the other hand, it may be that scientists find entry points for research easily available in the country. But I think the reason why many researchers come to Seychelles is that there are serious issues fomenting under the water.

First, out there in our Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), the future of the tuna fishery is murky with overfishing a major problem. Yes, climate change is an issue but well known tuna expert Francis Marsac said it is only a contributing factor compared to overfishing which is the elephant in the room. Yellowfin and big eye tuna stocks are in serious trouble. There are still some opportunities left for skipjack and albacore fisheries, but no one knows for how long.

In the near shore areas, we have known for some time that the local artisanal fishery is fully exploited. Many stocks in peril according to the presentation by leading researcher Dr. Josh Ciner who laid out the picture for the entire region In addition, the Seychelles coral reefs which were severely bleached in 1998 don’t have much of a future. Based on the information presented by Dr. Tim Maclanahan, the ocean around Seychelles is a “hot zone”, where sea surface temperatures are predicted to increase in the future. There is very little room for maneuver to save our reefs.

The bad news is tempered by good social capital fundamentals inherent in the country.. Pioneering research, also alluded to in the keynote presentations, show that Seychelles, of all the countries in the region, may have a high socio-economic capacity to adapt to this crisis. Compared to say Kenya and Tanzania where overfishing, coral bleaching, pollution and so forth are pushing more people further down the poverty trap, the high human development index in Seychelles means that people could find solutions to the crisis.

The research results clearly demonstrate that in Seychelles we have the potential to surmount present and future environmental dangers, more so than the people in neighboring countries. But this is only a potential. It needs to be realized. Thus, the national challenge facing us in Seychelles is how to mobilize and leverage the innovation and creativity latent in our society.

Chagos-The most pristine marine environment on earth?


Diego Garcia, in the Chagos archipelago, is back in the international news with the release of a new book in the United States entitled Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military base on Diego Garcia, by David Vine. It is what the publishers call a “groundbreaking work that dares to expose the other Guantánamo”. The book was officially launched in Seychelles and Mauritius in June this year. The author will donate all the book royalties to the Chagossians.

Seychellois, especially those of a certain generation, have a good knowledge of the Chagos. The coconut plantation on Diego Garcia was managed from Seychelles. My father’s company on Mahe provided fuel and supplies once upon a time to the Chagos and also exported the copra from there. The Chagossians who returned to Seychelles integrated into our society, with their Association still very active.Many other people around the world, through the international media, know about the Chagossians and their fight to return to “Diego “http://sailingweights.blogspot.com/2009/07/salomon-atoll-chagos-seychelles.html

What is less well known is that many scientists believe that the Chagos – a UK Overseas Territory – is probably the most pristine tropical marine environment on Earth. The archipelago has the world’s largest coral atoll, its healthiest reefs and its cleanest seas, they say

A booklet was launched in March this year called The Chagos Archipelago: Its Nature and the Future, to start a discussion on a programme “to create one of the world’s greatest conservation areas”. The archipelago is described as comparable with the Galapagos Islands or the Great Barrier Reef in environmental and scientific importance. http://www.chagos-trust.org/conservation.asp

The publication flags up the Chagos as the United Kingdom’s greatest area of marine biodiversity by far. The area is a crucial refuge, staging post and breeding ground for marine life, it says. The Chagos also provides a scientific benchmark for an environment without degradation; this is important for helping to deal with problems such as pollution, climate change and loss of biodiversity. It calls for people to support these ideas and encourage the British Government to make the conservation area a reality. This is a great start, in my opinion, as it sets aside a very important area of the planet and defers benefits to future generation – hopefully generations of Chagossians whose fate is currently a political hot potato.

Drawing on best practice from other sites, the aims of the conservation area would be: to protect nature, including fish stocks (benefiting countries such as Seychelles in the region); to benefit science, and support action against damaging climate change; and to be compatible with security and be financially sustainable. In my view, one of the major aims should be to provide livelyhood opportunities and environmental services for Chagossians upon their return.

Pollution, overfishing and climate change are affecting the oceans worldwide, but the creation of a conservation area around the Chagos will help preserve this pristine marine environment and secure rich natural heritage that many people say the Chagossians are actually the stewards of.