Living in a remote location on a tiny island in the middle of the Indian Ocean sounds idyllic, and it is. Yet it can prove challenging in some respects - for instance in having regular access to supplies and equipment that some of us take for granted. Our "Can Do" Conservation Team struggled a bit when their research boat's covering began disintegrating after many years' loyal service. A replacement was some months in the offing. What To Do? Make one! By upcycling remnants of FADs (Fish Aggregating Devices) which had come adrift, the team were able to fashion a hardy boat cover AND reduce environmental impacts to the reef and nearshore habitats.
,FADs wash up on Seychelles Outer Islands year round. Typically they have a floating frame which suspends curtain nets, sausage nets and rope (along with anything else which could attract fish). Most of the materials are non-biodegradable. They are a major threat to wildlife and boats. ICS staff intercept FADs to reduce the entanglement of marine megafauna; sharks, turtles, mammals etc. and to reduce coral, seagrass and beach damage.
After a FAD is collected, the teams try and recycle the materials, instead of their going to landfill. Bamboo frames and nets are used for climbing plants in the vegetable garden. Some frames however, are made of galvanised steel. These, like boat anchors, are destructive to reefs and seagrasses, breaking corals and uprooting plants as they wash ashore.
Matthew Morgan, Conservation Ranger on Desroches, explains: “After saving one frame and parts of another we had enough material to make our DIY boat cover. Two poles were welded onto an intact frame which was then mounted over our small boat. Luckily the frame was the exact dimension for the boat which made this a relatively quick job! We used shade cloth and an old boat cover salvaged by ICS in 2015 (and sitting beside our office ever since). This was mounted over the FAD frame and secured to the boat with rope. The cover has helped with marine mammal surveys, collecting sea surface temperature and coral reef surveys. If something is useful we never throw it away, when you live on an outer island you never know what you may need or where you will get it from! Awesome.