Nature Seychelles has received funding from a foundation in the United States that has enabled the purchase and installation of modern and purpose-built demarcation buoys around the Marine Protected Area (MPA) of Cousin Island Special Reserve.
‘This is a vital piece in the management jigsaw, and is of crucial importance for the protection of the reserve,’ says Reserve Manager, Joel Souyave.
Buoys Zone: photo shows Cousin trainee wardens Fred Bambouche and David Baker holding mooring buoys on Cousin © C. Jameson
The MPA of Cousin extends approximately 400 metres from the high water mark, all around the island. Internationally, organisations involved with marine protected areas are calling on the managers of these sites to install both demarcation and mooring buoys. Cousin has had mooring buoys in place since 2003/04 to protect the marine habitats from boat anchors.
Scientific studies have shown that important fish communities depend on the marine reserve. Cousin is also considered to be the single most important nesting site for Hawksbill Turtles in Seychelles. The Reserve is used as a showcase for protected area management, and is a Demonstration Site for the International Coral Reef Action Network .
The reserve management enjoys an excellent relationship with local communities on neighbouring islands. However, fishers sometimes stray into the MPA. Discussions with fishing interests have revealed that this is mostly unintentional, because the boundary of the marine protected area had not been clearly marked.
‘Without demarcation buoys the public and the users are unaware of where marine protected areas end and where they begin’, says Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles Chief Executive. ‘This can lead to conflicts between users and the protected area management. As a champion of the environment, Seychelles should lead the way in such internationally-accepted initiatives’.
The funding has enabled Nature Seychelles to purchase nine demarcation buoys and associated equipment, to install seven of the buoys (two in reserve in case of loss or damage), and to provide training in maintenance for our team of Cousin staff. The Marine Conservation Society of Seychelles installed the buoys and provided the training for Cousin staff.
Nature Seychelles, February 2005