BGF#2

Type: Large

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

Lead Project Partner: Green Islands Foundation

Partners: Fregate Island Private, University of Seychelles/ Blue Economy Research Institute and the Coralive.org (Zurich, Switzerland).

Summary:

Fregate Island has a long conservation history for its terrestrial environment and many Seychelles endemic species are found there, including the Fregate tenebrionid beetle which is only found on this one island. It’s also home to 50% of the Seychelles magpie robin population, Seychelles warbler and Seychelles white-eye. Rats were eradicated from the island and currently the island remains rat-free, following strict biosecurity protocols to maintain that status.

Despite great success on land, the marine environment around Fregate Island is poorly understood especially in terms of the distribution of organisms within the fringe coral reef. To advance understanding of the marine life around Fregate Island, we propose a partnership between Fregate Island Private, Green Islands Foundation (GIF), Blue Economy Research Institute (BERI) and Coralive to establish a coral reef biodiversity baseline and initiate a long-term marine monitoring programme around the island. The partnership aims to create important local and international collaborations that benefit conservation of marine life around Fregate Island and in the Seychelles by identifying a critical habitat to protect and manage (Project 5, SNBSAP)

Long-term, marine ecological research programmes are needed to improve our understanding of the complex mechanisms that govern coral reef ecosystems. Information generated by a long-term marine programme at Fregate Island will help to distinguish anthropogenic change from natural variation, understand the combined effects of various stresses, predict how different parts of the reef community may be affected by environmental change, and identify activities both within and outside coral reef ecosystems that affect the survival of coral reefs.

This project proposes to collect data for an initial assessment of the coral reef assemblage and associated marine species, and assess trends over time by establishing a long-term marine monitoring program on Fregate Island comparable to the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) assessments and outcomes of the national program of marine monitoring standardized by BERI. The data will be collected through standardized marine monitoring scientific methodologies currently employed by GIF, thus, can be used to compare findings with other granitic islands. The marine monitoring will be augmented with novel spatial monitoring technologies provided by Coralive.org. The research will produce reports about the state of Fregate Island’s coral reef with more specific questions being answered through University of Seychelles Environmental Science bachelor student’s final year projects. In addition, public awareness of the threats facing coral reefs and marine conservation will be enhanced using state of the art technologies such as 3D virtual reef mosaics. Ultimately, by compiling all the research outlined in this project, we aim to provide recommendations for decisions to be made on the potential for creating an MPA around Fregate Island.

The project employs a multi-faceted approach to tackle the main objective of assessing marine life around Fregate Island. Activities will be conducted over two years from January 2019 to December 2020.

Baseline biodiversity assessment data collection methods will be carried out in year one and repeated in year two from which conclusions of the assessment will be drawn.

SeyCCAT funds:  SCR 405,000

Co-financing: SCR 575 000

Duration: September 2019 – December 2020

Project Application Form: Project Application Form

Environment and social management plan: Final_ESMP_GIF_30July2019

Partnership

The Green Islands Foundation entered in a partnership to deliver on a SeyCCAT-funded project. The partnership brought Blue Nomads, Coralive.org and Blanpain Ocean Foundation, and the Blue Economy Research Institute of the University of Seychelles to undertake 3D mapping of Fregate Island

Due to the limited number of baseline studies being carried out in the Seychelles and only a few involving BRUVs, it has been an amazing opportunity to be able to assist in such a survey. After analyzing hours of footage, I have gained an in-depth knowledge of the fish species and communities occurring in the Seychelles and understanding the importance of data analysis. This project has certainly built a foundation for me in terms of working in a team, time management, communication and even working with certain computer programs for my data analysis, which I hope will greatly benefit me upon completing my studies in June.

Evita Delpech

Investing in Youth

GIF formalized their partnership through signing of a memorandum of understanding with the University of Seychelles. The MOU included having an environmental science student from the University of Seychelles work with GIF to to assess the species composition and diversity of fish life, amongst other things, from the video footage obtained from the deployed baited remote underwater video systems (BRUVs) around the granitic island of Fregate.