Coral reef fish assemblages of coralline and granitic habitats of Curieuse Marine National Park
Curieuse Marine National Park encompasses a diverse range of shallow water marine and brackish habitats including coralline fringing reefs, granitic boulder reefs, deep patch reefs, algal flats, seagrass meadows, intertidal rocky shore, sandy beach and mangrove habitat. Many of these shallow water habitats support an abundance of varied marine life, which in turn supports a burgeoning interest from tourist divers and snorkellers. Curieuse Marine National Park includes Curieuse Island and the surrounding waters including the channel between the island and the north-eastern coastline of Praslin. The designated boundary extends from Chevalier Point in the west to Pointe Zanguilles in the east up to high water mark, and includes the outlying islets of St. Pierre in the south-west. In 1971 a government White Paper states ‘’ It is intended that the reefs lying between Curieuse Island and Praslin should form an area to be designated as a Special Reserve, the object of which will be to protect the rich and varied reef community. The Commission is satisfied that traditional methods of fishing will not interfere unduly with the efficient management of this Special Reserve, and it is accordingly intended to permit fishing by traditional methods to continue in the area’’. Marine park designation began in 1979 when the area was declared a Marine National Park under the Curieuse Marine National Park (Designation) Order of 1979, S.I. 55, under the National Parks and Nature Conservancy Act, 1971. Additional areas, were designated shell reserves under Protection of shells regulations, S.I. 91, 1969 and The Conservation of Marine Shells Act,1981. Legislation permits no marine shell to be taken when such shells are on a reef, rock, bed of a lagoon or the sea or sea floor, within 400 m from the low water mark. There are a number of specifically exempted species, and the possession of explosives within such a reserve is prohibited. The total area is some 1370 ha including 283 ha of land (Curieuse) to 30 m below sea-level. The area is mostly government owned with some land areas such as the land around Anse Petit Cour privately owned.