| Fisheries minister urges higher quality control - 19.02.2013
“If Seychelles is not able to meet the challenges of being able to service the expanding fishing industry, this will affect our ability to export our fish to our major market which is the European Union.”
The remark was made by the Minister for Natural Resources and Industry Peter Sinon following a visit he made to the Fish Inspection and Quality Control Unit on Flamboyant Avenue yesterday morning.
Minister Sinon explained that the fisheries sector is set to expand especially now that there is a lot of interest shown following President James Michel’s visit to Sri Lanka last year.
“President Michel’s visit to Sri Lanka has brought a wide range of opportunity for us to have more fishing vessels. There has been an increasing interest by Seychellois investors to tap into the sector, the Bank of Ceylon is putting at our disposal a line of credit to develop the sector,” said Mr Sinon.
He said all these new development are coming with new challenges for small Seychelles especially with regard to providing onshore facilities and support, thus the need to raise the standard of the Fish Inspection and Quality Control Unit for the continued prosperity of the sector.
“It is important to see the inspectors on the ground, see where they work, understand the constraints and challenges they face and seek ways to resolve them so as to improve the working conditions and environment for them to better cater for an expanding fishing industry. This in my opinion is the best thing to do before the investors come in so that when they do come in they will find a smooth, effective and efficient competent authority,” he added.
Mr Sinon also noted that soon the auditors from the European Union will be in the country to assess the efficiency of the local competent authority.
“Our aim is to have as few issues as possible and to have addressed all recommendations put before us when they came in 2011,” Mr Sinon stressed.
He said the visit has allowed him to apprise of the work being done by the unit which is key to ensuring that all fish being exported and transported abroad meet the required standard and quality.
He was led on the visit by Christopher Hoareau, a chief fish inspector responsible of the unit which falls under the Seychelles Bureau of Standards (SBS), and the latter’s chief executive Amy Quatre.
Mr Sinon said the visit also allowed him to discuss with the workers the different challenges and shortcomings of the unit, assess its different needs in terms of equipment, improve staff working environment, capacity building as well as space to expand and see how best to help address the pertinent issues to allow the unit to improve on the quality of services it provides.
“This year is an important one for the Seychelles fishing sector as the country’s fishing industry prepares to start renegotiating its fishing partnership agreement with the European Union, and being a key component in the fish export process it is therefore fitting to apprise of the unit’s needs and challenges,” Minister Sinon said.
According to Mr Hoareau, the unit comprises a very young team of workers and among them seven fish inspectors – the majority of them being very young graduates.
“Our team is very young and full of potential which we want to develop to the maximum with the necessary training so as to turn them into professional fish inspectors for the future with the help and support of the government,” said Mr Hoareau.
He stressed that more and more the international standard recommendations for fish inspection are being set higher and are getting more and more complicated and as an exporter we have to abide by them, thus the need for highly trained inspectors.
Noting that fish export is the second pillar of our economy with the fishing industry continuously expanding and the products being subjected to higher recommended international norms, there is a need for higher qualification for our graduates, Mrs Quatre noted.
She brought to Minister Sinon’s attention the need to upgrade the level of training courses being offered to prospective candidates at the Maritime Training Centre (MTC) to work as fish inspectors.
“The level of the certificate graduates are receiving at the end of their training at MTC does not provide the needed requirements for them to proceed to university studies,” Mrs Quatre noted.
“As the fishing industry expands there is the need for highly qualified cadres to help meet the increasing demands for quality services and international standards,” added Mrs Quatre, who thanked Mr Sinon for understanding the importance of the unit in the country’s expanding fishing sector.
Apart from inspecting all fresh, frozen fish and also canned fish products, the unit is also responsible to analyse fish samples which it collects from different fishing vessels for different types of tests as required by the European Union. It works in close collaboration with the SBS.