Aquaculture will return to Seychelles in August with the completion of a new facility at Providence – an industrial zone – on the eastern coast of the main island of Mahe.
A top official from the Seychelles Fishing Authority, Aubrey Lesperance said aquaculture is one step towards guaranteeing food security for the island nation.
“There is currently a lot of pressure on the fisheries sector, the population is growing, visitors arrival keeps growing, demand for food keeps growing, we need to supplement what is being done. In view that agriculture cannot be done on a scale that we would want due to land constraint, this is where aquaculture comes in.”
The cabinet of ministers recently took key decisions related to Seychelles’ first pilot project under the mariculture master plan.
The cabinet approved a number of national policy statements for aquaculture. The department of legal affairs is also working with the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture to prepare the legal instruments.
Mariculture is the farming of aquatic plants and animals in seawater in the open ocean, enclosed parts of the ocean or other places filled with sea water.
The government of Seychelles, an island nation where fisheries is the second- most important pillar of its economy, took the decision to venture into mariculture ten years ago.
Lesperance said that aquaculture will also ensure an adequate supply of fish on the market.
“We know that during the south-west monsoon, the seas are rough and artisanal fishermen cannot meet the demand for fish. Aquaculture is the alternative as it is done in a controlled manner, where species we farm are monitored closely, we follow their growth until they are ready for consumption.”
Lesperance adds that through this Seychelles – a group of islands in the western Indian Ocean – is maximising the potential of the blue economy.
“We have vast areas of sea and this brings many opportunities for aquaculture especially when done in a sustainable manner.” This new sector is also expected to bring in additional revenue for the country through exportation, with potential identified Asian markets.
The broodstock, acclimation and quarantine facility which has been designed in alignment with international best-practice standards is located close to the Seychelles Fishing Authority building.
The facility is designed to ensure that mature breeding stock otherwise known as broodstock are well cared for, can adjust to captive conditions, spawn and produce good numbers of high-quality eggs, have fewer disease problems and greater longevity.
The project will start with four species of fish — brown-marbled grouper, red emperor snapper, mangrove snapper and the snubnosed pompano from the finfish category.
Emperor red snapper — one of the species of fish targetted for the start of the project. (Seychelles Fishing Authority) Photo License: CC-BY
Mangrove snapper — another fish species for the aquaculture project. (Seychelles Fishing Authority) Photo License: CC-BY
To reduce adverse effects, the broodstock will be sourced from Seychelles’ waters and those needed to start the industry have to be quarantined to ensure that they are healthy and disease free.The facility will be completed in time for December – the only time until February – when the broodstock can be collected for the trial of the project cycle.
Aquaculture is not new to the Seychelles islands. In 1989, the Island Development Company (IDC) and the Seychelles Marketing Board (SMB) established a prawn farm in Coetivy to produce black tiger prawns. It ceased operation in 2009.
In 1995, a black pearl oyster farm started on Praslin, the second-most populated island, producing black-lipped oyster and winged oyster for the retailed jewellery market.
In 2016 a series of public consultations were held with the public as well as with key stakeholders with regards to the aquaculture pilot project.
The authority said that the pilot project is an important one that will provide concrete evidence on the feasibility of aquaculture in Seychelles’ waters, and it was important that all stakeholders were consulted in its implementation.
The project is being supported financially by the European Union with technical support of Advance Africa, a South African company. The second phase of the project includes the installation of the fish farms- fish cages in the sea – and the establishment of a research laboratory.