Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Size does matter!

Indeed it does, and whoever says otherwise is no fisherman. After 31 days of zigzagging across the Mascarene Plateau, we finally made it onto the Seychelles Bank, the northernmost bank of this crescent shaped plateau. It was at 10:57a.m. on Friday 7th November when we cast our first trawl in the crystal clear turquoise waters of the Seychelles. The trawl was hauled 30 minutes later and one could not help but glow with pride once its content were scattered onto the deck. Even from afar one could not have mistaken those reddish coloured fish trashing about. 5 huge red snappers (Lutjanus sebae); the smallest weighing 7.2Kg and the biggest over 12Kg. Enough to please any fisherman. Another interesting component of this catch was an outstanding grouper (Epinephelus sp.), weighing 7.2Kg. The catch consisted of a variety of fishes of all sizes and colours of the rainbow. Compared to previous hauls done on the Nazareth and Saya de Mahla banks, this one won a myriad of attention from everyone onboard both for its size and diversity.

After being out at sea for so long, and seeing those snappers, a well sought delicacy in the Seychelles, we couldn’t help our mouths from watering as we started to discuss the best way to savour those “Bourzwa”, as they are known locally. Having one on the barbecue grill during a sunday afternoon picnic on one of our many sandy white beaches seemed to win most votes.

Today Sunday 9th November has been a memorable day. Firstly, seeing the captain raising our national flag while sailing in our waters was really nostalgic! Furthermore, seeing the inner islands on the horizon welcoming their children home were surely those moments that really make you appreciate where you come from. We stand tall today as we are fortunate to be part of this scientific team carrying out the first exhaustive research expedition of the Mascarene Plateau. Although the practical side of the research is almost over, the task has just begun as we move to the data analysis phase and get those pens onto papers to prepare numerous reports.
It is a long and tiring cruise but so far it has been a great working and learning adventure.

Rodney Govinden and Vincent Lucas (Fisheries Scientists, Seychelles Fishing Authority)
Helena Francourt and Michelle Etienne (Research Officers, SCMRT- MPA)

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