Very little systemic reef research has been undertaken beneath 30 metres (scuba depth) across Seychelles’ vast ocean territory of 1.37 million km2 that includes several shelf regions and 115 islands. Co-defined and co-delivered, the goal was to contribute to marine spatial planning being conducted by The Nature Conservancy and help establish a baseline that includes data from depth about marine life and ocean health. The marine spatial plan aims to ensure representative species and habitats have long-term protection, to improve the resilience of coastal ecosystems with a changing climate, and to ensure economic opportunities for fisheries, tourism and other uses.
Research focussed on understanding patterns of biodiversity, biogeography and larger scale patterns of connectivity will help to elucidate the importance of specific environmental drivers and how these change across locations. The focus on photic to deep sea ecosystems and on both fish and benthic communities simultaneously is the first of its kind. This provides an opportunity for a fundamental change in understanding the diversity, connectivity, and function of marine ecosystems.
- Planning: in-country meetings with the main implementing partners conducted in July 2018, under the leadership of the Ministry of Environment Energy and Climate Change (MEECC) to define the scientific, policy, engagement and knowledge exchange objectives and outcomes.
- Science Workshop: In-country science and knowledge exchange planning workshop conducted in October 2018 with stakeholders from 13 organisations to create the implementing strategy
- Grants: In partnership with the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT), the Deep Blue Grants Fund launched to enable 10 Seychellois scientists to participate in the field research.
- Taxonomic workshop: In August 2019, 13 taxonomic experts from across the globe, attended a workshop at South African Institute of Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB) to accelerate the identification of species discovered and provide 9 lectures to support training of 10 Seychelles scientists and early career researchers. Read the SAIAB workshop report.
- Seychelles Skills Workshop: covered video analysis, science communications and scientific writing. The topics chosen by Seychelles stakeholders and delivered by experts.
- Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC)– partnership to share and broadcast content and documentaries about the Mission – with archive file shared for free use in perpetuity.