New publication

A Baseline for the Blue Economy: Catch and Effort History in the Republic of Seychelles’ Domestic Fisheries

Hanna Jabour Christ | May 05, 2020

Hanna Jabour Christ

May 05, 2020

CITATION

Christ HJ, White R, Hood L, Vianna GMS and Zeller D. (2020). A Baseline for the Blue Economy: Catch and Effort History in the Republic of Seychelles’ Domestic Fisheries. Front. Mar. Sci. 7:269. doi:10.3389/fmars.2020.00269

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Our paper derived Seychelles domestic catches from 1950 to 2017 in light of the novel blue bonds initiative. 
  • The estimated domestic catch was 1.5 times the amount reported by FAO and we found that artisanal Catch Per Unit Effort declined over time.
  • Despite the paramount importance of non-commercial fisheries, i.e. subsistence, to local food security, this sector is rarely monitored and reported by the government.
  • We conservatively estimate the proportion of take-home catches for personal and family consumption and emphasize the need for strong monitoring that also includes non-commercial fisheries sectors.
  • Given the historical value of the small-scale fisheries as demonstrated here, all small-scale sectors should be highlighted in the blue economy roadmap of the Seychelles along with future research and strong regulations.

ABSTRACT

The adoption of sovereign blue bonds by the Republic of Seychelles, hereafter referred to as Seychelles, focuses on resource sustainability and illustrates options for island countries to use their ocean resources for years into the future. The fishing industry is one of the main pillars of Seychelles’ economy and is of crucial importance for domestic food- and employment-security. In order to promote long-term ecological sustainability and economic viability of domestic fisheries, accurate and long-term baseline information is required. Such baseline data were derived here with a reconstruction of the Seychelles’ domestic fisheries catches and fishing effort within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from 1950 to 2017, coupled with resulting Catch Per Unit Effort data (CPUE). The total reconstructed domestic catch was approximately 1.5 times larger than the baseline as reported by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on behalf of Seychelles from 1950 to 2017 after adjustment for fully domestic catches within the EEZ. Domestic catches (i.e., excluding the large-scale industrial pelagic catches) increased by over 500% throughout the time period, growing from 1,900 t⋅year−1 in the 1950s to around 11,200 t in 2017. The major targeted taxa were jacks (Carangidae), tuna-like fishes (Scombridae) and snappers (Lutjanidae). Total fishing effort in the form of fishing capacity grew from 21,500 kWdays in 1950 to over 3.4 million kWdays in 2017. The resultant artisanal CPUE displayed a declining trend over time, suggesting a potential decline in relative abundance of fish populations within the Seychelles EEZ or targeted fishing areas.

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SEYCHELLES

The exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Republic of Seychelles.

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DOMESTIC CATCH

Total reconstructed domestic catch for Seychelles from 1950 to 2017 within Seychelles’ EEZ by fishing sector. Landings as reported by FAO on behalf of the Seychelles are represented as the black overlay line. Industrial large-scale tuna and billfish fisheries are excluded and addressed separately in the global spatial tuna database (Coulter et al., 2020).

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CATCH COMPOSITION

Taxonomic composition of reconstructed total catches for Seychelles for 1950–2017. The category “Others” consists of 82 additional taxa with minor contributions to the overall catch.

FUNDING & ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Acknowledgments: We would like to thank F. Le Manach for the preliminary catch data reconstruction for the Seychelles’ EEZ on which the present contribution builds.
Funding: This was a contribution of the Marine Futures Lab and the Sea Around Us—Indian Ocean, both are research initiatives at the University of Western Australia. The Marine Futures Lab was supported by the Ian Potter Foundation, the Pangaea Initiative, Parks Australia, and private philanthropy. The research of the Sea Around Us initiatives were supported by the Oak Foundation, the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, the Marisla Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the MAVA Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Oceana and the Minderoo Foundation.