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2019, július 23 - 16:00

‘Aldabra Clean-Up Project’ officially launched

Turning the tide on plastic pollution


“We know things are dire, when one of nature’s last refuges, the Aldabra Atoll, a place we all know for its remoteness and inaccessibility, is scared by the global issue of plastic pollution.”

The chief executive of the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF), Dr Frauke Fleischer-Dogley, made the remark at the official launch of the ‘Aldabra Clean-Up Project’ yesterday at State house.

This was in the presence of President Danny Faure, who is also the patron of the SIF, Vice-President Vincent Meriton, Designated Minister Macsuzy Mondon, Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change Wallace Cosgrow and the British high commissioner to Seychelles Caron Röhsler.

Also present were the board members of the SIF, of the Island Conservation Society (ICS) and of the Islands Development Company (IDC).

Yesterday’s activity also coincided with the World Environment Day which this year was celebrated under the theme ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’.

The Aldabra Clean-Up project is a collaboration between the SIF and the University of Oxford, precisely the Queen’s College. It was conceived during an expedition of the board of trustees of the SIF to Dune Jean-Louis, one of the remote field camps of the atoll.

After an intense clean-up of 100 metres of shoreline, the board decided that the situation was not acceptable any longer and pledged to secure additional funding to start combatting plastic pollution on the atoll.

Dr Fleischer-Dogley noted that for years, all sorts of items used in everyday life have accumulated on Aldabra’s shores and for as many years, the SIF teams have tried to find ways to contain and mitigate the issue.

She however said, despite these efforts, the plastic tide has risen, overpowering the attempts and further the life we have promised to protect on Aldabra and the outer islands.

“It took only a few seconds for us to acknowledge that to start beating plastic pollution we needed to be part of a transitional effort,” added Dr Fleischer-Dogley.

An effort which, she said, tapped into our people’s love of one of the world’s greatest treasures.

She also explained that marine debris that do not necessarily originate from Seychelles block the path of nesting turtles, are ingested by sea birds and strangle marine life.

During yesterday’s ceremony, SIF board member Patrick Lablache presented President Faure with a framed picture of Aldabra.

The project will bring together a team of six Seychellois volunteers with various backgrounds, along with six Oxford University scholars.

As a team, they will conduct an intensive clean-up expedition that will take place in March 2019.

Before leaving for Aldabra, they will link up with existing local and international initiatives to raise awareness and use the atoll’s outstanding universal value to make us all understand the serious commitments needed.

The local volunteers – Sheena Talma, Craig Francourt, Samuel Ramkalawan, Ashleighne Antao, Ivan Capricieuse and Kalsey Belle – were chosen by a panel of seven judges from the SIF.

Other than producing a video to promote themselves and what they can bring to the project, they also had to fulfil some crucial requirements, including physical fitness, ability to swim comfortably, team-orientated among others.

They will be joined by April Burt, Harriet Dowing, Guillaumme Matthews, Chris Woodman, Thomas Zillhart and Rebbeca Goldberg from the Oxford University.

According to project officer Jeremy Raguain, following yesterday’s launch, the volunteers are already engaged and will be actively involved in various activities to raise awareness and promote the project.

Other than fundraising activities, they will also work on various ways and means, coming up with initiatives to repurpose the collected debris once brought back to Mahé.

Welcoming and giving its support to the initiative, the IDC, through its CEO Glenny Savy, proposed to extend the Aldabra Clean-Up Project to other islands of the Aldabra group.

The SIF, through Dr Fleischer-Dogley, acknowledged that it is an excellent idea to create an even bigger momentum to beat plastic pollution and reveal a path towards a plastic free world.