ICS has again highlighted in local media the damage being done to marine ecosystems in the Indian Ocean by the use of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) by tuna fleets.
Ships have been strictly banned from throwing trash overboard for more than 30 years. Yet over the same period up to two million FADs have been dumped at sea each year and in most cases are not recovered. They are a legalised, poorly regulated form of marine pollution, employed by the richest fishing industry in the world to improve its productivity.
Tuna was probably overfished in many parts of the world even before the widespread use of FADs, when pelagic tuna fleets targeted solely free-swimming schools of tuna. FADs are subject to little regulation. Nor has much attention been given to the environmental impact and the work inflicted on NGOs such as ICS attempting to defend fragile island and marine ecosystems when FADs wash ashore.
The average FAD-caught fish is smaller and their use incurs a relatively large bycatch, including several species of pelagic sharks, turtles and juvenile fish. On top of that, FADs are washing ashore at almost every island in Seychelles, smothering coral reefs with tentacles of rope. It is back-breaking work to remove FADs entangled on reefs. It is arguably a form of marine pollution.
The latest ICS article was published today 9 January 2021 and can be read in full in Today in Seychelles here and in Seychelles Nation here.
Two rarities have been sighted by Island Conservation Society staff at Farquhar within the space of two days. On 4 January, Annabelle Cupidon was cycling to the Farquhar airstrip to look for vagrant birds when she saw a flash of red feathers in a bwa blanc tree near the road. Then the bird flew towards Coco Edok marsh where she got a better view and was able to confirm identification as a Broad-billed Roller. The nominate race of Broad-billed Roller breeds at Madagascar migrating to East Africa. Other races are resident sub-Saharan Africa. This is the fourth report from Farquhar since ICS established a Conservation Centre there.
Two days later on 6 January, while conducting a beach patrol at Ile Déposées, Annabelle Cupidon and Matthew Morgan spotted another unusual visitor, a Western Yellow Wagtail. This is the first report of any vagrant species from this tiny island and the third for the atoll as whole (all three since the establishment of the ICS Conservation Centre at Farquhar).
Island Conservation Society has partnered with Professor Mathieu Le Corre of the University of Reunion to conduct research on Red-footed Boobies nesting at Farquhar Atoll. The project is looking into abundance, habitat preference and distribution at sea using GPS devices, drones and genetic sampling. An end of year update has been given by ICS in local media.
For more details see: Matthew Morgan (31 December 2020) The Red-footed Boobies of Farquhar Atoll. Today in Seychelles
Arts teacher and Eco-Schools leader Beryl Serret, from Anse Royale primary school, has donated one of her paintings to Island Conservation Society (ICS).
"I have over ten years’ experience in the profession but four years as the Eco-Schools leader, responsible for the implementation of the Seychelles' Eco-Schools programme in Anse Royale primary school" said Ms Serret. "I recently developed a keen interest in Aride Special Reserve following a series of interactive class presentations on ICS and its conservation programmes delivered at the school.”
The painting depicts the diverse reptile species found on Aride Island. It has already been used on a new website launched just before Christmas 2020. It can be viewed on the website along with other paintings and photographs of Aride's unique wildlife here.
The Island Conservation Society team on Silhouette has successfully grown and propagated Wright's Gardenia, thought to have been eradicated from the island by the clearance of land for agriculture and other human development following colonisation. However, the plant survived on Aride Special Reserve – an island which is ecologically managed by ICS.
Wright’s Gardenia Rothmannia annae or Bwa Sitron in Creole, is one of the most beautiful endemic trees in the Seychelles and has heavily scented flowers.
More details of about this and other plants of Aride can be found on the Aride Island website
The full news article may be read here.
On the 22nd of September, much of the Alphonse Island community gathered to unload essential supplies from the first barge in six months. ICS were notified when a carcass was spotted floating in the lagoon. The 10m long-dead whale washed up on shore, allowing for the collection of measurements and DNA samples, with consideration not to burst the blubbery, bloated body, which was in a state of advanced decomposition. The tail fluke was missing and the underside eaten by sharks. Strong south-east winds kept the overwhelming stench at bay, while a JCB manoeuvred the whale into its final resting place buried in the sand. Unfortunately, the next day it was re-exposed, so staff set to work on plan B – towing it back out to sea. The shape of the skull and small anterior flipper suggest that this was a Sperm Whale and analysis of genetic samples could reveal its age and sex.
ICS is also committed to educating our younger generation on the need to conserve and protect the fragile environment of Seychelles' islands. We strongly believe that education for sustainable development can help us achieve the former. The Department of Education has agreed to support us with our education and outreach programme. To kick-start, such an important partnership, ICS donated a total of 15oo educational and instructive books namely the Outer Islands of Seychelles, Zwazo Sesel and Aride Island to all public and private schools during an event held at Mont Fleuri primary school today.
Click here to read more.
Each year, conservation staff working at the remote Alphonse Group, look forward to the shift in prevailing wind from south-east to north-west, which coincides with the return of migratory birds. Many species fly back from their breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere, to over-winter in the tropics. In particular, St. François Atoll is a magnet for many species of waders, including large flocks of Crab Plover, because the lagoons and mangroves are home to plentiful fish stocks and crustaceans.
In this relatively short period, the Conservation Team on Alphonse Island recorded 110 various bird species, but more migrating birds such as the Madagascar Cuckoo and Grey-tailed Tattler.
Click here for more information.
COVID-19 pandemic leads to strengthened collaboration between the Seychelles Maritime Academy and Aride Island
The Seychelles Maritime Academy (SMA) responded to the call for assistance from the Island Conservation Society by sending more students than in previous years to assist our Conservation team with the island's scientific monitoring programs.
Two of the SMA students, namely Kiran Bhageerutty and Jean-Yves Lesperance, both working towards an Advanced Certificate in Fishery Science and Fish Technology were sent to the Aride Island Nature Reserve beginning of August 2020. They have been involved in the monitoring of the Aride's Seychelles Magpie Robin population, analysing invertebrate pitfall traps, patrolling the beach for nesting sea turtles, and cleaning up beach debris.
Click here to read more from Seychelles Nation or
Click here to read more from Seychelles News Agency.
The Island Conservation Society (ICS) has recently partnered with Professor Mathieu Le Corre (Université de La Réunion) to carry out a two-year research project on the Red-footed Booby (Sula sula) of Farquhar Atoll. The research will explore their abundance, habitat selection and movements at sea, using GPS devices, drones and genetic sampling. The project is supported by the Islands Development Company and the Farquhar Foundation and is being funded by the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Change Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT). Results from this study will provide a vital understanding of the seabird populations and marine ecosystems of Seychelles.