© mcss 2020
MCSS
Marine Conservation Society Seychelles

“Strategic Management of Turtle Populations”

This was launched in June 2003 and funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office through the British High Commission in Victoria.

This project was aimed at developing a strategic approach to turtle management in Seychelles. The project was funded by the British High Commission and aimed to bring together stakeholders that manage and monitor turtle rookeries, find a means for them to share their data, establish a common database and then use this to develop a strategy and action plan for turtle management in Seychelles.This programme resulted in the setting up of the database with its associated Web Site and the formation of the Turtle Action Group of Seychelles.

Previous Projects

The following is a summary of some of our previous projects and programmes, several of which have on-going components which are still active today.

“Environmental Mooring Project”

From 1999 to 2001 MCSS implemented a programme, funded initially by the Dutch Trust Fund, (DTF), and then by the Seychelles Marine Ecosystem Project, to install environmental mooring systems to protect sensitive marine areas from anchor damage.

The project involved the training of local divers from the MCSS, Marine Parks Authority and the Conservation Division in the installation of various forms of embedment mooring systems. Because these moorings do not have heavy ground tackle dragging on the sea bed, they are particularly suited for use around coral reefs and other sensitive areas. The project is supported by many local stakeholders involved with marine activities and managing protected marine areas.

Personnel from the MCSS,  the Seychelles Ministry of Environment Marine Unit and the Marine Parks Authority have been trained in the installation techniques needed for the different moorings. A total of 42 moorings have been installed with  further moorings being installed on an on-going basis.

“Seychelles Marine Ecosystem Management Programme”

From 2001 to 2003, MCSS in conjunction with the Seychelles Ministry of Environment, Conservation Division, and the Marine Parks Authority implemented a series of conservation programmes supported by funding from the Global Environmental Facility of the World Bank.

The project was spawned by the severe El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) coral bleaching event of 1998 and identified changes and impacts on key marine eco-system components and evaluated the local socio-economic impacts of these changes. It also developed strategies to cope with these impacts through direct measures and by institutional strengthening.

The MCSS was responsible for the monitoring of whale sharks using marker tagging, photo-identification and satellite tracking. MCSS also supported projects on coral predators, such as the Crown of Thorns starfish, Drupella molluscs and Diadema sea urchins.

“Integrated Turtle Beach Management Project”

This project based on Intendance beach, South Mahé, was launched in August 2003, funded by Banyan Tree Resort Seychelles, and is on-going.

This project focuses on the management of the beach, dune structure and associated vegetation to enhance turtle nesting and mitigate the impacts of tourism activities on the beach and dunes. It has also enabled a long-term approach to rehabilitation and maintenance of the beach crest vegetation with support from the local community.

Besides monitoring activities the project incorporates local community involvement, particularly through educational activities for school children. The project also incorporates the Hotel clients with educational talks, provision of information in the rooms on turtles and in particular information on how tourists should act if they encounter a turtle on the beach.

“Movement patterns of nesting and inter-nesting hawksbill turtles on the developed islands of Seychelles”

This project was launched in December 2007, funded by Barclays Bank Seychelles and continued in 2009 & 2010 funded by MCSS directly. This innovative turtle programme helped us to discover the movement patterns of nesting and inter-nesting hawksbill turtles using Satellite tagging to track them. The project involved children from local schools and the Wildlife Clubs of Seychelles in numerous schools and club projects and competitions, including naming the turtle.... now known as 'Carol'.

After her nesting season finished in early 2008 Carol left the south of Mahe and embarked on a journey of some 1176 kms to her foraging area off North West Madagascar. Where she remained until her tag stopped transmitting due to a dead battery in November 2009. Regular updates on the travels of  our satellite tagged turtles can be found on our  blog.

Coastal Development Project

This two year project entitled “Coastal Development and Ecosystem Modelling as a Tool to Enable Improved Local and National Policy Decision-making Processes” was funded as a Large Project under the Mangroves For the Future foundation. The project was jointly implemented by the MCSS and the Green Islands Foundation (GIF).

This project aimed to establish a representative set of technical tools to enable informed decision-making processes with regard to coastal development activities by modelling representative coastal ecosystems in terms of their bio-diversity assemblages, environmental service provision and the economic activities they support. The combined findings from four representative sites provided a baseline and a set of technical tools and indicators were developed to enable rapid evaluation of specific coastal ecosystems and the likely impacts of proposed developments as well as enhancing public awareness and understanding.

The four sites selected were representative of the differing environmental and developmental scenarios that make up the Seychelles coastal development complex. Two sites are situated on the largest and most populous island of Mahe, one in a high development usage scenario (Beau Vallon) and one in a local community scenario (Intendance Bay).

These sites were the MCSS component. The other two sites were based on smaller islands that support small communities, production landscape activities and tourism operations, one on granitic North Island and the other on Denis Island, a coralline island.

The project started in September 2010, with the baseline analysis of the bio-diversity and habitats at each site. This was done in conjunction with Coastal Research Unit of Cambridge University based on ground-truthing Quick-Bird spectral satellite images of the four sites.

 

The project included the inventory and distribution of endemic species within the four sites, such as Seychelles endemic terrapins, followed by the mapping and analysis of the current anthropogenic development. These data allowed the modelling of buildings and developments relative to the different habitats and the production of criteria for evaluation of potential development by the Environmental Impact Assessment process. The project also developed a digital database for Government for the planning and EIA process which is currently being used supported by MCSS expertise.

Marine Mammal Conservation Project

Conserving marine mammals around Seychelles’. Was an eighteen month Strategic Project funded by the Small Grants Programme of the Global Environment Facility (GEF SGP).

This project started in 2014 and was implemented by MCSS in association with Islands Conservation Society and with cooperation of several NGO/CBO and governmental bodies. The project trained 43 individuals from various organisations to monitor marine mammals by visual methods and a further 15 by acoustic methods. This allowed the participants to capture data on the diversity, distribution and associated behaviour around the inner islands and Amirantes. The project was successfully completed in January 2016.

Marine Mammal Depredation Project

Mitigating marine mammal depredation in Seychelles semi-industrial fishery’. Was an 18 month Project funded by the Small Grants Programme of the Mangroves for the Future Foundation (MFF).

This project started in 2014 and was implemented by MCSS in collaboration with Fishing Boat Owners Association and the Seychelles Fishing Authority. The project defined the incidence of long-line depredation in the semi-industrial fleet, researched the cues and factors that initiated this behaviour and developed and trialled  methods to mitigate it. The project successfully concluded in March 2016 and there are plans to develop an extension for the coming year.

Acoustic Tracking of Marine Species

 

This project, entitled “Conservation of threatened marine biodiversity of N.W. Mahe through increased public awareness and community involvement in a multi-species acoustic tracking programme”, was funded by the Small Grants Programme of the Global Environment Facility (GEF SGP). Being focused on a Marine National Park the project was implemented in association with the Seychelles National Park Authority.

The aim of this project was to involve the community and in particular young scientists in helping establish the movement patterns of a range of key indicator marine species, turtles, sharks and large fish within and the project area. This was achieved by the placement of an array of acoustic ‘listening stations’ across Bay Ternay and the Conception Channel and the tagging of 30 individuals of the target species with acoustic tags. The project under the SGP formally ended in June 2012 but tracking activities continued until 2015.

The array recorded the location of the animals as they pass the listening stations while they move around the area and data was shared with teachers for tracking projects for school students (such as the Wildlife Clubs) thereby improving awareness  of these indicator species within local youngsters. The outputs will improve knowledge of threatened and indicator species and of this biodiversity hotspot while improving knowledge and skills of local researchers.

 

Grand Police Critical Ecosystem Partnership Project

Seychelles hosts globally important populations of fresh water ‘mud’ turtles (terrapins), which are related to their cousins on mainland Africa. There are two species of mud turtle  (the yellow Bellied and the black mud turtle) which are both thought to be endemic and due to their fragmented habitats and dwindling numbers they have been listed by the IUCN Red List as Critically Endangered.

The primary problem is the loss of wetland habitat due to development and agriculture and consequently lowland freshwater wetlands are now one of the most endangered habitats in Seychelles. One of these wetlands is also recognised as a Key Biodiversity Area, the Grand Police wetland on South Mahe; however, this wetland also falls in an area with outline permission for resort development. After discussions with the environmental consultant for the proposed development and with funding from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund,we have been able to run a two year project to complete a full biodiversity assessment of the area and develop guidelines for  a protected area. The Protected Area Nomination file has passed the public review phase and is now awaiting approval by Government.

SeyCCAT Lobster Project

This project project was funded by the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust and is being done in collaboration with the University of Seychelles, the Seychelles  Fishing Authority and local lobster fishermen.

This project aims to establish where the bottle-neck is in terms of the supply of lobsters on local reefs and to provide protective habitats for the larval and juvenile stages to live in on the reef so that more juvenile lobsters grow into adults, thus supplementing the numbers of lobsters on the reefs and enabling their sustainable harvesting.

The project started in June 2018  and completed at the end of May 2019. Unfortunately the number of juvenile lobster encountered was very low andd we were not able to supplement lobster numbers on the reef. \we did however provide valuable data abput the habits and feeding preferences of the species encountered as well as valuable information regarding the recruitment of lobsters on Seychelles reefs which will inform the lobster fishery legislation.

GEF Small Grants Coral Project

This project project funded by the Seychelles GEF Small Grants Programme was done in collaboration with the Cerf Island Conservation Program and the Anse Forbans Community Conservation programme to restore an area of 500 square metres at both locations.

The project started in February 2018 and by its conclusion had raised more than 3800 coral colonies on its in-water nurseries which were transplanted onto 1106m of restored reef at Cerf island and Anse Forbans. This project established the base for our current Regional Coral Project which will run from 2020 to 2025, please visit the page for more details.

Swiss Embassy Coral Project

This  project project funded by the Swiss Embassy was done in collaboration with a local dive centre and local hotel to restore one popular dive site and one snorkelling reef impacted by the 2016 bleaching event.

The project started in February 2018 with the assessment of the areas to be rehabilitated and the setting up of in-water coral nurseries to develop the coral colonies needed for the restoration work. These are doing well and were transplanted in October 2019 year.

A total of 21 artificial reef modules were made and deployed onto the reef areas with up to eight coral colonies per module transplanted.