Greetings everyone! As you might have been following, all the Blue Economy Ambassadors are having a great experience and are learning new things and developing new ideas everyday. Most of the group went on a Blue Economy Training for two days in which they all excelled whilst the rest of us (including me) visited institutes and organisations in Mauritius that are linked to the Ocean.
I will be talking about the Barachois Project that we visited in Mahebourg. 'Barachois' means wetlands in Mauritian language and it is a very valuable resource that can be exploited in a sustainable manner.There are three types of wetlands and they are: marine wetlands, freshwater wetlands and man made wetlands.
Aquaculture is the farming of fish, shellfish and aquatic plants in fresh or salt water. Aquaculture products are grown in earthen ponds, freshwater lakes and bays, or in the open ocean. The fish are fed and cared for to ensure optimum health and product quality. Aquaculture is mainly intended for production of food, stock enhancement and socio- economic development.Aquaculture is an activity which will be practised during the Barachois Project but it is still being decided on which organism to cultivate.
The Barachois that we visited in Mahebourg was astoundingly dirty and polluted. The barren ground looked as if it was suffering and the mangroves were struggling to survive.It had been stained by pollution.
Mr Kheswar who works for the National Ramsar Committee gave us a very informative tour. The convention entered into force in Mauritius on 30 September 2001. Mauritius currently has 3 sites designated as Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Sites), with a surface area of 401 hectares.
Convincing the public is the main aim because without out them, projects for flushing out the Barachois would not be worthy. Plans to turn an old store into a souvenir shop that will sell eco-friendly products made by the locals look promising for it will provide jobs and an income to the local community. Public involvement through community work really intensifies the results as it is their own will to protect and exploit what they have in a sustainable fashion and not just throw rubbish and help degrade the Barachois.
Posters painted by locals were designed and are as seen below.
Seychelles should surely take this example by doing more community work, not just for the youth but for the older generations. Fishermen could have a committee whereby they take it upon themselves not to fish or anchor their vessels in certain areas by more awareness just like Reef Conservation', an NGO in Mauritius which have established no take zones which the public have agreed on. When you impose a law on someone, they are less likely to abide to it than if it were upon their own will.
The Barachois Project intends to exploit the area in a sustainable way. How? For instance, as earlier mentioned, an eco-shop which sells souvenirs to the tourists which are made by locals such as wooden carvings, hats made of dry leaves or bags made of cloth. Activities such as guided tours and kayaking will also be available to visitors.
A problem which is faced by almost all NGOs and small associations that want to help the environment is government involvement. As Mr.Kheswar quoted "They don't do, and they don't let you do". It's taken them 3 years to design and do planning and get approvals. Implementation is supposed to be a reality this year.
Seychelles is lucky to have governmental support and the media on our side to help the"Blue Economy" become what it is today. Now all that is left is to have the community on our side! Help all the Seychellois to realise what we have and make them want to protect it!
Written by Sarah Purvis