A stock assessment of the Seychelles sea cucumber fishery was first undertaken by MRAG Ltd in 2012 for the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA). A number of constraints limited the provision of management advice during that time, including the length of the time-series and resolution of both spatial and effort data. Since 2012, additional fisheries-dependent information has been collected including higher resolution VMS data and fishing effort.
The main objectives of this study were to conduct a re-assessment of the fishery using all available fisheries-dependent data, and to provide advice to guide management decisions on the sea cucumber fishery in 2017. Specifically this included:
Both assessment methods using number of animals landed (rather than biomass), showed evidence of local depletion for several key commercial species, including a dramatic decline in black teat in highly fished areas. A number of recommendations were made, which include to focus on a select group of species only; develop a definitive dataset without errors that can be used to run alternative models in future; conduct fisheries-independent surveys; closed areas as part of an adaptive management plan; conduct biological sampling to determine reproductive capacity and mortality.
A final report and workshop presented the findings and recommendations to local stakeholders. The workshop also included training on the main assessment software used (surplus production model; CEDA).