Saturday, 17 December 2016

Fishing in Seychelles

Billfish Tagging Efforts Boost Seychelles Fishermen, Catch Alike

A record number of billfish – the prized catches of big game fishermen – were tagged and released in Seychelles’ waters during 2016.

That was the big takeaway from the close of the Seychelles Sports Fishing Club (SSFC)/Mason’s Travel Conservation League, as it was revealed that the over 520 billfish tagged and released during the year amounted to more than double of what was recorded in 2015.

For the SSFC and the many organisations in Seychelles that derive a livelihood from ocean-based tourism, it’s a welcome development for the sustainability of the industry, and an “amazing accomplishment,” SSFC Secretary Grant Heyer said.

Introduced two years ago, the SSFC’s tag and release programme is helping to gather scientific data for the billfish species in Seychelles’ waters and the surrounding Indian Ocean region – these include marlin, sailfish and swordfish.

“The waters that surround our archipelago are some of the richest and most diverse fishing grounds,” Mason’s Travel PR, Branding and Communications Manager Nicole St Ange said. “We want to keep it that way, and that’s why we fully support the tagging programme for the widest possible adoption.”

While “catch and release” has been the mantra for sports-fishing conservationists for some time, tag and release takes it one step further. When a billfish is caught, a standard Billfish Foundation tag is attached to the fish before it is released back into the ocean. Fishermen also record Information about its size, weight and location of capture.

The hope is that the process will provide conservationists with valuable information about their patterns of movement, as well as total catch figures within the country’s territorial waters. While there is no legal component to the programme, the massive uptick in the number of voluntarily tagged billfish speaks to the enthusiasm of both local and visiting anglers.

 “Travellers are increasingly conscious about their actions when abroad, and Seychelles, as usual, has a leading role to play in terms of conserving our environment and the species in it,” St Ange said. 

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