The release was done in the context of the Marine Ranching Programme launched by the Fisheries Ministry last year. The Minister of Education and Human Resources, Mr V. Bunwaree also participated in the ceremony.
Species which are targeted for marine ranching are: cordonier, gueule pavé, and mud crab. Cordonier is an economically important group of herbivorous fishes contributing around 10% in the total actual catch from the lagoon and off-lagoon areas of Mauritius.
Marine ranching is a process whereby seeds of desired species of marine animals are collected, produced, reared and released in the sea to supplement the natural population. The fingerlings/juveniles are grown to a predetermined size, released in the sea and recaptured at marketable size.
Prior to the release of fingerlings, underwater surveys were carried out and based on the findings, particularly, with regard to the habitat, occurrence of feed (algae) and optimal physico-chemical parameters, the sites were selected.
Moreover, under the marine ranching program a pilot seed production of mud crab (Scylla serrate) was undertaken at Albion Fisheries Research Centre and 200 crablets were produced and released at Pointe d’Esny (the newly proclaimed Ramsar Site) and 100 in Bel Eau Estuary at Albion.
Similar projects are foreseen for other fishers’ cooperative societies around the island. The Fishermen Investment Trust has initiated action and is negotiating with the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the United Nations Development Programme to assist Mauritius in procuring more cages for the fishermen community.
Sustainable fisheries remain a priority on the government’s agenda. In Mauritius, seafood demand is increasing and thus pressure on marine resources is rising. In this regard, marine ranching can provide a worthwhile means to sustain the marine resources in Mauritius and its stock for the benefit of the fishermen community.
The Ministry of Fisheries has embarked on a marine ranching programme whereby fish fingerlings are being produced at the Albion Fisheries Research Centre for release at selected sites in the lagoon to increase the stock potential. Species targeted for marine ranching are the cordonnier, Siganus sp., mud crab, Scylla serrate, Gueule Pavé, Rhabdosargus sarba and marine shrimp, Penaeus monodon.