Spanner crab fishery in the spotlight |04 August 2023
The Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) held a one-day workshop on Seychelles spanner crab yesterday in order to strengthen relationships, communications and information flow between fishers and the authority through fisher consultation and input regarding formal management.
Furthermore, the workshop at the Savoy Seychelles Resort and Spa was to update stakeholders on SFA activities surrounding the spanner crab fishery, including the draft licensing framework, a fisheries survey, and a rapid socio-economic study that was carried out regarding the species.
As part of Seychelles' collaboration with The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), under the International Climate Initiative (IKI) grant, the SFA has been working on the Seychelles spanner crab fishery by applying FishPath, an approach to setting fisheries on the path to sustainability.
SFA is also seeking stakeholders’ views on the implementation of a proposed licensing framework.
When addressing the participants during yesterday’s official opening, the Minister for Fisheries and the Blue Economy, Jean-François Ferrari, explained the workshop was part of the much larger ‘Strengthening the Blue Economy of the Western Indian Ocean through Integration of Ecosystem Services and Effective Biodiversity Conservation’ project.
It is being funded through the German government under the International Climate Initiative (IKI). The Nature Conservancy (TNC) was awarded this grant to support and advance marine conservation and sustainable fisheries in the Western Indian Ocean and the IKI grant is funding four countries namely Kenya, Mauritius, Seychelles, and Tanzania.
“In Seychelles, it is specifically supporting the spanner crab and lobster fishery,” he stated.
Mr Ferrari said the main aim of the workshop was to showcase the importance of proactively managing a resource and how the management should include the views of all stakeholders that are directly impacted.
“Ensuring effective management allows long-term sustainability of the fishery. I am certain all of us in this room today want the same thing, to ensure that everyone can fish today and that our children and grandchildren can also fish.”
He added the goal of fisheries management is not to shut down fishing, but to maintain the resource for the future.
The minister said the day was meant to collaborate on making the fishing of spanner crabs more professional, more profitable and sustainable.
“We need to recognise the ones who preceded us, and who paved the way to show us the way towards developing this resource.”
He pointed out that there are currently five regular commercial fishermen targeting spanner crab, and few others working on a casual basis.
“It may be a fishery with a huge potential to generate economic revenue to Seychelles, but it must be done responsibly and sustainably,” he concluded.
Independent consultant and fisheries specialist for TNC, Dr Ameer Ebrahim, also addressed the participants, highlighting that FishPath was a procedure to train the staff of SFA, fishermen and stakeholders on how to develop a management plan for fishing.
“When we are talking about a management plan, I think it has a negative perception and people view it as a way for the government or SFA to control fishing or to prevent people from fishing. This could not be further from the truth, in fact if a management plan is done well, it takes into consideration all the aspects of fishing. Economic, social and the environment,” he stated.
He said this was where FishPath comes into the picture as they were training SFA to use information gained from fishermen to develop a plan that will encompass everyone in the sector and was not limited to the office.
“It is a practical plan,” he stated.
He recalled that during the initial scoping mission to Seychelles in 2019, two types of fishing were prosed by the government, namely lobster and spanner crab.
“This workshop is focused on spanner crabs because there is a lot of developments happening in this type of fishing.”
Dr Ebrahim said SFA has carried out several exercises in preparation, including a survey on the Mahé Plateau to be able to distinguish the crab species, as well as a socio-economic study by the authority’s Economic department, which would be shared with the stakeholders.
Photos by Yann Dinan