Fish aggregating devices recovered during the expedition (Ministry of Fisheries and the Blue Economy)
(Seychelles News Agency) – The third Saya De Malha Expedition to collect fish aggregating devices (FADs) and debris from the Seychelles Outer Islands group concluded with the return of the crew on December 11, 2023, according to a statement from the Ministry for Fisheries and the Blue Economy on Wednesday.
The crew removed seven intact FADs and five others that were seriously damaged, as well as retrieving eight satellite buoys and various FAD debris from several atoll locations. The crew also cleared 6.1 tonnes of waste from the Aldabra Atoll, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
“We are proud of the successful completion of the Saya De Malha Expedition and commend the efforts of all involved. The Ministry for Fisheries and the Blue Economy remains steadfast in our commitment to facilitating and continuing with such valuable programmes. As we move forward, we will continue to learn and identify new and more effective ways to better manage recovery missions. Protecting our marine environment and ensuring sustainable practices are at the forefront of our efforts,” said the Minister for Fisheries and the Blue Economy, Jean-Francois Ferrari.
The operation was organised by Ministry for Fisheries and the Blue Economy, the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA), and the Seychelles Coast Guard (SCG) and began on November 13, 2023, with a crew of 20 from SCG personnel, an SFA technician and observer, a representative from the Island Conservation Society (ICS), four Seychelles Maritime Academy students, and a lecturer.
“This expedition provided an excellent opportunity to enhance the skills of our young seafarers and gather valuable scientific information,” said the ministry.
The Saya De Malha SCG ship primarily travelled to the southern atolls, such as Providence, Cerf, Cosmoledo, and Aldabra.
|The Seychelles Coast Guard‘s Saya De Malha ship was used to conduct the expedition ( Ministry of Fisheries and the Blue Economy) Photo license: CC-BY
According to the ministry, “Efforts were concentrated on removing stranded FADs and debris from beaches and reefs in these areas. Upon revisiting locations where FADs had been previously recovered, it was found that only a few FADs had become stranded during the intervening period.”
The ministry highlighted that during the trip, the crew recorded data about the recovered FADs, including their GPS locations, conditions, the habitats from which they were collected, and the materials they were composed of.
“Whenever available, details of the satellite tracking buoys, such as make, serial number, and vessel markings, were also documented. This data will be compiled and analysed to assess the impact of these FADs on the ecosystem and their contributions to marine debris in the respective locations they were found,” the statement said.
The returned FADs will undergo further data collection and sorting and then they will be made available for recycling or disposal.
Also, the Seychellois NGO Oceanika, in close collaboration with the government and the Seychelles Coast Guard, also carried out more than a dozen large scale operations to remove FADs from the ocean last year.
“In 2023, Oceanika successfully recovered over 130 FADs, thereby making it the most significant coral reef protection operation globally in terms of FAD removal,” said the ministry.