Distribution of commercially important fish species of Curieuse Marine National Park
Coral reef associated fisheries provide an important source of economically affordable animal protein for the populations of the Seychelles. In addition to satisfying the domestic market, demersal fishery supports a buoyant export market of fresh and frozen fish. Demersal nearshore fish are primarily caught from small boats, including pirogues and small boats with both outboard and inboard motors using a variety of gear types. Highest effort and catch rates are from outboards using handlining, traps and encircling gill nets. From 1990 to 1994, the catch from the small boat fishery of Praslin and La Digue includes a large range of demersal and pelagic species. Pelagics comprise a large proportion of the catch recorded at landings from small boats, including Carangidae (Jacks), Scombridae (Tuna/Mackerels) and Caesionidae (Fusiliers) and others. This accounted for some 47% of the catch from 1990 to 1994. The remaining component of the catch were species associated with coral reefs or have largely nearshore demersal life histories. These fish were largely the Lutjanidae (Snappers) and Lethrinidae (Emperors) 18.8%; the Siganidae (Rabbitfish), 15.2%; other trapfish including Acanthuridae (Surgeonfish), Scaridae (Parrotfish), Haemulidae (Sweetlips) and Mullidae (Goatfish) and others, 12.8%; Serranidae (Groupers), 3% and Sphyraenidae (Barracuda) caught mainly with handlines making up a very small proportion. Other significant catches included sharks, rays and octopus. These figures give some indication of the importance of particular target fish families to the artisanal fishery of Praslin. Further analysis shows a declining catch rate over 5 years from 54.2 kg/boat/day in 1990 to 36.03 kg/boat/day in 1994. Although these types of statistics are prone to large variations and a longer time scale study would be necessary to elucidate a trend. Most notably, landings of grouper have declined significantly from 16.8 MT in 1990 to 4.4 MT in 1994 in the Praslin and La Digue fishery. In this time statistics show a general increase in effort i.e. mean number of boats (SFA, 1990-94). Fisheries biologists in the Seychelles have suggested that the average catch of recent years is close to sustainable levels and that future exploitation must be closely monitored (Khadun, 1991). Efforts are being taken to encourage exploitation of fish stocks further offshore by improving the design and long-range efficiency of boats and their engines. This is a management strategy designed to relieve pressure on near shore populations and provide a refugia that will allow populations to increase to a more sustainable level and provide for a smaller scale nearshore artisanal fishery. Statistics show a general decrease in mean number of Pirogues operating per month (185 in 1985 to 64 in 1994) and increase in number of whalers (from 37 in 1985 to 91 in 1994) indicating an increased mechanisation of the Seychelles artisanal fishery fleet.