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Seychelles Setting Up a Farm for Corals

Nature Seychelles is a non-profit organization, the largest and oldest NGO in the Seychelles archipelago. It is involved in environmental conservation and management – and are planning to set-up a land-based aquaculture coral farm on the island of Praslin – the second most populated island of Seychelles, with the goal to produce more heat-resilient corals.

Coral reefs all over the world are dying at a rapid pace due to continuous rise of the sea temperatures, as a result of the current climate change. It has become an urgent matter for Seychelles to implement an aquaculture coral farm because the Western Indian Ocean water temperatures are rising at a much faster rate, causing the corals to bleach much quicker. A bleached coral implies that they have expelled their symbiotic partners, types of photosynthetic algae, which in turn has caused them to be deprived of their nutrients and eventually die.

Nature Seychelles Chief Executive, Nirmal Shah has mentioned to the public that growing corals in an aquaculture facility, will allow the corals to produce more and faster. He also mentioned that they are able to produce corals that they have experimented with and would like to train the corals to become more resilient to heat as this is the problem corals face at the moment.

Building the coral farm has become an essential part of their survival and as Shah mentioned; that we need to assist the corals to evolve and the only way to do so is by intervening directly into the genetics of the corals. His goal is to bring out top scientists from all over the world, to see if they can actually tinker with some of these corals to make super corals in the future because otherwise, the coral reefs are going to disappear.

The aquaculture coral farm project will in turn provide Seychelles with the opportunity to try a new coral growing technique called micro-fragmentation. Instead of cutting pieces of corals and growing them on ropes in the sea, very tiny fragments of corals can be obtained and from which thousands of corals can be produced. Corals produced in the land-based farm will later be transferred to Cousin Island’s special reserve’s coral reef, which is being monitored constantly, ensuring a higher survival rate.

The project is part of an Adaptation Fund regional coral reef restoration project being implemented by the UNDP, the government of Mauritius and Seychelles. Part of the fund is being provided to the Seychelles and will be used in the construction of the aquaculture coral farm facility. Public consultations have already been held with inhabitants of Praslin and the organisation still needs to submit relevant documents to the planning and fisheries authorities before the building of the facility can commence.

Coral Reefs protect the coastline from storms and erosion, provide jobs for local communities and offer opportunities for recreation. These beautiful reefs are known as “rainforests of the sea” and provide a quarter of marine species with habitat and food. If coral reefs disappeared, essential food, shelter and spawning grounds for fish as well as other marine organisms would cease to exist, and biodiversity would greatly suffer as a consequence.

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