Seychelles – The Seychelles Sports Fishing Club (SSFC) is pleased to announce that it is working with the World Wide Fund (WWF) to further promote conservation of the Seychelles marine environment through measures that will include the tagging and release of all billfish caught in selected future SSFC fishing tournaments.
The support by WWF, which has taken over one year to develop, will further enhance SSFC’s leadership position in the region and solidify its mission of promoting sports fishing in the country with the ultimate goal being the conservation of its billfish stock while promoting Seychelles as one of the best fishing destinations in the world.
SSFC was successful in introducing catch and release categories in two of its 2013 tournaments, and it was met with some resistance at first. However, SSFC pressed on with its plans and introduced trophy-based awards for the release of billfish as well as the use of video technology in such tournaments. The local anglers quickly adapted to the new techniques and today it has become the norm to release billfish instead of killing these magnificent pelagics.
“We are making tremendous progress in changing the mindset of our local sports fishermen in regards to the release of fish,” said SSFC’s Chairman Tarak Patel. “The SSFC/WWF relationship will further emphasize that catch and release needs to become an integral part of the sports fishing culture in Seychelles in order for us to protect the valuable resource that brings tourists to Seychelles,” he added. “Our annual SSFC tournaments are the ideal venues to advance this objective further, and our goal is to set the example so that our children will one day experience the same thrill of catching their first game fish like we did,” he concluded.
The SSFC/WWF cooperation will start with the 2014 Heineken Slam Tournament scheduled for June 28, 2014, followed by the Big Game Classic Tournament which will be held on November 29, 2014. In addition, the annual SSFC Junior National Fishing Competition will also incorporate similar catch and release rules in its format.
Dr. Wetjens Dimmlich, the WWF representative based in Seychelles who was instrumental in developing this new relationship, was pleased that an agreement had been reached: “WWF Smart Fishing Initiative is pleased to be working with SSFC in promoting tag and release. Recreational anglers can play an important role in adding to the scientific knowledge of fish species through effective tagging programs.”
The Executive Secretary of SSFC, Grant Heyer, who was the driving force behind obtaining WWF support, was also excited that his hard work had borne fruit. “It was first and foremost important for us to work with an organization globally recognized as a leading foundation in wildlife and environmental matters,” he said. “Working with WWF will help further strengthen our conservation message to our members and tournament participants, and will also expand to the juniors as they are the future generation of anglers, let alone conservationists,” he added. “Our club today is very proud of the gigantic steps that we have made so far in educating our local angling enthusiasts about the need to release billfish, and we will continue to strive for 100% release in all our future tournaments,” he concluded.