A restitution workshop on the second octopus fisheries closure in Mauritius was held yesterday at the Veranda Pointe aux Biches Hotel in Pointe aux Piments in the presence of the Minister of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, and Shipping, Mr Premdut Koonjoo, the Commissioner for Environment, Forestry, Tourism, Marine Parks and Fisheries, Rodrigues Regional Assembly, Mr Richard Payendee, and other personalities.
The workshop is an initiative of the Reef Conservation, Ecosud and EcoMode Society and the Mauritius Scuba Diving Association in collaboration with the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme of United Nations Development Programme. Discussions focused on scientific monitoring and assessment, and challenges faced by stakeholders with the implementation of the Octopus Fisheries Closure both in Mauritius and Rodrigues. The objective is to come up with measures and concrete actions that can further expedite and harness both countries' marine resources.
In his address, Minister Koonjoo stated that the workshop is in line with Government's strategic vision of harnessing the economic potential of the ocean economy without adversely affecting the natural ocean environment. He recalled that the first Octopus Fisheries Closure in Mauritius took place in the South of the island from Le Morne Village to Souillac on a pilot basis in 2015 through the funding and support from the Indian Ocean Commission Smart Fish Programme. In a bid to inform fishermen about the advantages of this measure, the Mauritius Marine Conservation Society in partnership with his Ministry and other stakeholders had organised sensitisation campaigns on the cause and necessity of closure across the island, he added.
The Minister expressed gratitude to the non-governmental organisations who are collaborating with his Ministry to support the Octopus Fisheries Closure in Mauritius and pointing out that the country will soon embark on its third Octopus Fisheries Closure. He further highlighted that the lapse of time during the closure contributes to the increase of octopuses in the sea, and that the re-opening of the fishing season will thus be beneficial for the fishermen community. The response to this initiative has been well appreciated by the fishermen community and stakeholders, he said.
For his part, Commissioner Payendee shared the Rodriguan experience and challenges that the island has faced since the implementation of the seasonal closure of the octopus fishery in Rodrigues. He recalled that Rodrigues first came up with the idea of implementing a two-month island-wide closure in 2012 as the number of octopus had steadily gone down in its lagoons. He pointed out that since its successful implementation it is being carried out annually and that new strategies are being devised to make this scheme more effective.
Mr Payendee further highlighted that this measure aims to increase the number of juveniles which will grow into adults as it allows the female population to reproduce. This will result in an increase in the population of octopus as well as a better catch at the re-opening of the fishing season, he said.