The licence will be open until October 2024. (Seychelles Fishing Authority)
The Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) introduced a licence for the fishing of the spanner crab species on December 20, said a top official recently.
The introduction of a licence for the species is a result of several factors, and according to the assistant manager for licence at the SFA, Karyss Auguste, one of the reasons, is that more and more fishers are getting into this sector.
This is happening while there is a lack of information on this type of fishery and through the licence framework, data collected can be used to properly understand it.
“The third reason is that the fishermen have been asking us to put in place several measures, as they were becoming concerned, especially with the size of the crabs that are being captured lately,” said Auguste.
The licence will be open to October 2024 and only 10 licenses will be given out to fishermen. According to the SFA’s research, there are only about seven fishermen who are actively doing this fishery on a full-time basis.
There will also be restrictions on the number of traps that the fishers can use and size limits have also been put in place. Crabs smaller than 8 cm in size are restricted, to ensure its sustainability.
|Through the licence framework, data collected can be used to understand it properly. (Seychelles Fishing Authority) Photo License: CC-BY
The licensed fishers will be allowed to operate with a maximum of 350 fishing traps per vessel.
The license framework was done after consultations will all parties involved, including the fishermen.
The SFA will be collecting data about the fisheries during this first year of the licence and after that work on other changes.
Like with other fisheries in Seychelles, there are conditions attached to the licence and for any breaches, the SFA will address the fisherman accordingly. Those caught fishing the species without a licence can face penalties.
The Seychelles spanner crab fishery began as a commercial venture in 1986. It is a resource that was comparatively underutilised before. The species can be found over the Mahe Plateau, with the eastern and southern areas having the largest populations.
At depths of around 30 to 70 metres, they are often found on sandy substrate scattered with plant and coral.
The average yearly capture of spanner crabs from 2011 to 2020 was 30.5 tonnes, reaching a maximum of 90.2 tonnes in 2018. This is quite low when considering the maximum sustainable output, which ranges from 381.36 to 695.44 tonnes annually.