Trends in climate change, coastal governance, coral reef ecology and socio-economic variation in the Seychelles

Stead, S.M., Daw, T., Graham, N.A.J., Gray, T.S., Polunin, N.V.C., Robinson, J., and McClanahan, T.R. (2006) Trends in climate change, coastal governance, coral reef ecology and socio-economic variation in the Seychelles. In: World Martitime Technology Conference 2006 (1). From: World Maritime Technology Conference, 08 March 2006, Westminster, London, UK.

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Abstract

This paper analyses the interconnections between key ecological, economic and social drivers with other multiple stressors like climate change in the context of coastal governance. Information on underlying variables that influence stakeholders’ perceptions and decision-making processes on marine resources use is compared with the former types of data. Potential benefits of this research include integrating disparate information into formats that can be applied to more precise targeting of policy action on governance in coastal zones such as those of the Seychelles.

Throughout March and August 2005, ecological (e.g. coral cover and fish abundance), economic (e.g. expenditure, source of income) and social (e.g. local perceptions of fish stocks, support for coastal management measures) variables were measured in four coastal communities around the islands of Mahé and Praslin in the Seychelles. Underwater visual census (UVC) was used to estimate fish size and abundance; corresponding marine habitats were also described. Stakeholders (artisanal fishers and heads of households; n= 265) were interviewed face-to-face, using questionnaires and semi-structured interviews.

Ecological findings show that the 1998 coral bleaching event has resulted in a shift from coral dominance, as observed in 1994, to rubble and algal dominance in 2005. Present coral cover (7.5%) is largely made up of massive and encrusting forms offering limited structure for other components of the ecosystem. This change in habitat, coupled with the physical degradation of the reef structure, has had a significant effect on reef fish assemblages, in particular diversity. Fishery target species show mixed responses. Notably, a significant loss of smaller size classes suggests a lag affect intimating that the full effect of the coral loss is yet to be realised. More than 60% of stakeholders interviewed thought that fish had declined and attributed this to factors such as changes in climate, fish behaviour, habitat, land-based and maritime pollution, and over fishing. Support for marine parks (MPs) as a management measure to enhance fish numbers was highest in those communities located further away from MPs (Grand Anse and Belombre; 26 and 23%, respectively) compared to those adjacent to MPs (Anse Volbert and Roche Caiman, 9 and 11%, respectively). With little apparent recovery of the Seychelles inner reef system and further degradation of the reef structure expected, effects on biodiversity, tourism and ultimately reef fisheries may get worse.

Item ID: 8874
Item Type: Conference Item (Refereed Research Paper - E1)
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Date Deposited: 21 Jun 2010 05:37
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0501 Ecological Applications > 050101 Ecological Impacts of Climate Change @ 40%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060205 Marine and Estuarine Ecology (incl Marine Ichthyology) @ 30%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160802 Environmental Sociology @ 30%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960305 Ecosystem Adaptation to Climate Change @ 100%
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