Is the fishing industry really being run, manage sustainably and in the national interest? |06 September 2021
The fishing industry is currently the second pillar with potential to rival tourism as the first pillar of the Seychelles economy. It is providing substantial revenues and a very substantive source of food security to one of the world’s largest consumers of fish per capita.
Since the fisheries resources in our vast 1.37 million square kilometres of exclusive economic zone are finite resources, the judicious management of same is paramount if we are going to meet the Sustainable Development Goals 14 that is ‘life below water’. We have today reached a threshold, where we are questioning whether the daily running of this industry is really being managed sustainably and being managed in the national interest.
‘Preserve Seychelles’, as an organisation that stands strongly on defending the sovereignty of the country, has been observing the different developments that have been taking place within and around the fishing industry of our country. It is getting increasingly obvious that there are a lot of things that has to be relooked at, addressed and redress accordingly.
One of the main issues that is very evident is the fact that the industry is running on very closed groups whereby, only a selected few are really benefitting from most of the fisheries and seafood resources and not the country as a collective. This in itself is an alarm for ‘corruptive practices’, which should not at all be tolerated in any sector and/or department in Seychelles. In line with these observations, we have decided to launch into a series of discussions and consultations with the people from the industry, as well as those stakeholders who are well versed and are showing interest in the subject.
From before, our sub-committee for fisheries, had already started some work in that regard, but now we intend on going more in-depth and certain committee members had their first meeting on Wednesday August 25, 2021. They met with Peter Sinon, who is not only the chairman of the Board of the Central Common Cold Store, located at Ile du Port, but he is the former minister for Natural Resources (fisheries & agriculture). This places him in the right position to give us a bit more insight on where the industry has been, where it is now and also possible sustainable ways forward.
Among the issues discussed was the state of the industrial fisheries sub-sector where Port Victoria seems to be stuck in the role of being the number one tuna landing and transshipment port of the Indian Ocean with the largest tuna canning factory. The traditional practice of having exclusively foreign vessels involved in this lucrative sub-sector was highlighted. It was high time that Seychellois be given the incentive to begin to penetrate this sub-sector even in partnership with experienced foreign stakeholders.
Mr Sinon informed the members of Preserve Seychelles present of the relatively critical and revealing report of the fisheries sector in Seychelles produced by the ‘Fisheries Transparency Initiative’ (FiTI). The report is a must read for anyone or organisation that do have interest in the Seychelles fisheries sector. Its recommendations are a lot of food for thought and it is hoped that the government and its relevant ministry and agencies do take note and act on the most critical. It will however take pressure and strong advocacy from all interested parties for action to be a priority.
One relation that the FiTI report brings to the attention of one and all is the total amount of industrial fisheries that are authorised/licensed to fish in the Seychelles waters are around 248 vessels. Almost 50% of those are Taiwanese and Chinese vessels. Those are almost never seen in Port Victoria. Do they frequent other ports or are they transshipping at sea? What is of greater concern is that the fishing agreements with either the Chinese or Taiwanese companies could not be accessed, not even through the Seychelles Fisheries Authority (SFA). Thus it is highly recommended for better transparency that all the fishing agreements be posted at least on the SFA website.
The meeting with Mr Sinon, was a fruitful one, and we shall remain in discussion with him as he has agreed to help in whichever way or manner that he can to push to the fore the sustainable development of this sector.
‘Preserve Seychelles’ shall be meeting, and seeking meetings with the different concerned figures and authorities, and we do hope to receive the cooperation of those concerned, as we believe in doing what is right for Seychelles.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr Sinon for his time and shared knowledge, and also for his patriotic stance. We know that this is not an easy task that we have embarked on, but let us do what has to be done for Seychelles.
Press release from Preserve Seychelles