Type: Large

SeyCCAT strategic objective: Support new and existing marine and coastal protected areas and sustainable use zones.

Lead Project Partner: Seychelles Islands Foundation

Partners:  Queen’s College, University of Oxford.

Summary:  Inappropriately disposed waste washed out from landfills, items discarded into rivers and at sea, along with fishing equipment can become marine debris which travel long distances and eventually wash onshore. This marine debris accumulates on the beaches of even the most remote and pristine places, like Aldabra Atoll, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Vast quantities of marine debris have been accumulating for years on Aldabra’s shoreline and in recent times this has dramatically accelerated. It is cataclysmically ironic that such an incredible place, inaccessible to most of humanity can be touched by marine debris, which harms this sanctuary’s endemic and endangered wildlife. This ever-growing problem can no longer be left unchecked and appropriate action must be taken to cause meaningful change. As such, the removal of accumulated marine debris is a top priority for SIF. Although Aldarba’s remoteness (1200km away from Mahé) and harsh conditions poses a major logistical challenge and one that exceeds SIF’s conventional financing means, the removal of marine debris from its shores is Aldabra Clean Up Project (ACUP)’s primary action. It is envisioned that Aldabra’s fauna, human visitors, Seychellois community and world population will benefit from the ACUP’s success. Ultimately, ACUP’s overarching outcome will be the cleaning of Aldabra’s shore through an expedition to take place in February – March 2019. The expedition will focus on the southern nest beaches and coastline which are the most affected by marine debris due to their exposure to the South East monsoon winds and inaccessibility. This extraordinary action carried out by a multi-national team will feed currents of change and create waves of actions for improved waste management and reduced plastic pollution throughout the country, unlocking local capacity to think differently of waste by transforming it into a resource. To achieve this outcome the project has five main objectives: (1) fundraising, (2) awareness & education (3) waste removal, (4) research and (5) waste management and processing.

SeyCCAT funds:  SCR 1 Million

Co-financing: SCR 3 116 300.

Duration: January 2019 – June 2020

Project Application Form: Project Application form of SIF

Read more about the Aldabra Clean Up Project.

Results to date:

As of 31stAugust 2019. There are several remarkable and tangible results to show for the project. The below lists detail them:

  • 75 metric tonnes of marine plastic pollution removed from a UNESCO world heritage site;
  • SIF’s largest education and outreach project, which saw 10 youths, who would otherwise never have experienced Aldabra, join current and former SIF staff to become environmental activists;
  • ACUP organised or took part in over 50 education and outreach activities in Seychelles and abroad;
  • Increase national and international policy makers awareness of the scale of issue of marine plastic arriving on Seychelles’ outer islands (Seychelles President taking photos of marine debris on Aldabra to the G7 Summit in 2018, a project Report for UN Secretary General;
  • Over two hours of live coverage of the expedition by Sky News and Nekton Mission’s Deep Ocean Live; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBstLorlqVE and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAoignyhtyk
  • One 24-minute documentary: 50,000 flip-flops in paradise https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4A_yqf8hDs&t=125s.
  • A base line for research of plastic pollution on Aldabra established:
  • We estimate that 514 metric tonnes of marine plastic pollution remain on Aldabra;
  • We estimate that 52% (by weight) of the marine plastic pollution on Aldabra is fishing /ghost gear (discarded and lost rope, nets and buoys) and the next heaviest categories are flip flops (22%);
  • We estimate it would take a team of 12, would take 172 days and funds worth SCR 60.8million to completely clear the atoll of marine plastic pollution (a useful reference to calculate the impact of the global plastic pollution issue);
  • By recording labels on consumer items, we were able to identify some of their region and possibly state of origin: South East Asia region (i.e. Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines), the Indian subcontinent region (i.e. Sri-Lanka, India and the Maldives) and East Africa (i.e. Comoros and Mauritius). Furthermore, consumer items with labels from states outside of the Indian Ocean (i.e. Japan) were also recorded;
  • By photographing and recording the serial numbers of washed ashore Fish Aggregating Devices that Industrial Fishing fleets operating in Seychelles’ economic exclusive zone are in some part responsible for the issue of marine plastic pollution;
  • Beach transects conducted before and during the expedition indicate that 6.5 tonnes of marine plastic pollution arrive on Aldabra’s shores annually;
  • Beach surveys found that 75% of all trash arriving had attached biota.
  • A written and video report (can be provided upon request) to the United Nations Secretary General.