Seychelles launches aquaculture sector |18 October 2021
• Local and foreign investors welcome to explore this sector
After many years of research and investment, the Seychelles Aquaculture Sector was officially launched on Saturday at the Eden Bleu Hotel.
The ceremony was attended by Vice-President Ahmed Afif; Designated Minister and Minister for Fisheries Jean-François Ferrari; Minister for Internal Affairs Errol Fonseka; Minister for Youth, Sports and Family Marie-Céline Zialor; Minister for Investment, Entrepreneurship and Industry, Devika Vidot and the Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change and Environment Flavien Joubert.
The ambassadors for Japan and Russia were also present at the event.
What is the Aquaculture sector?
The broad term “aquaculture” refers to the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of animals and plants in all types of water environments including ponds, rivers, lakes, and the ocean.
Aquaculture is used for: producing seafood for human consumption; enhancing wild fish, shellfish, and plant stocks for harvest; restoring threatened and endangered aquatic species; rebuilding ecologically-important shellfish habitat; producing nutritional and industrial compounds; and providing fish for aquariums. As a core component of the Blue Economy the development of an aquaculture sector has been prioritised by the Seychelles government and research began in 2008.
While launching this sector, Designated Minister Ferrari said: “Today marks the beginning of an exciting journey ahead and it also indicates that Seychelles is ready to embark on new milestone in its development. The government’s ultimate goals in developing an aquaculture sector include: economic diversification; food security; sustainable management of the marine environment, and creation of jobs, notably high value jobs. The decision was taken by cabinet in February 2017 to proceed with developing an aquaculture sector which is aligned to the Ecosystems Approach to Aquaculture, which is a United Nations FAO guideline to ensure that aquaculture promotes sustainable development, equity, and resilience of interlinked social-ecological systems. In other words, ensuring that aquaculture grows suitably within the social and ecological context of our country.”
Designated Minister Ferrari explained that aquaculture is today one of the fastest growing global industries, now accountable for supplying 51% of all fish consumed in the world. The rising demand for fish globally means the world is becoming more dependent on aquaculture to meet this demand and our oceans cannot keep up with this demand.
This year the government of Seychelles promulgated the first Aquaculture Regulations and its accompanying standards. “These regulations were developed based on global best practices to ensure that the sector develops in a well-coordinated and regulated manner with the highest compliance levels. Of course, we needed to find the balance so as not to create regulations which would deter investments. Hence, we developed a series of Aquaculture Standards that would serve to guide the private sector operators and always ensure that the best practices are being observed. Another milestone accomplishment was the establishment of the Aquaculture Regulatory Committee that I have the pleasure of chairing. This committee is responsible for the effective and efficient development of the sector and consist of the key ministries, departments, agencies, Ceps (Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles) and SCCI (Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry) to better represent the mandate of the committee. Their mandate is to provide an inter-departmental focus to coordinate policy, align legislative and institutional structures, drive and track aquaculture development progress and make recommendations to my ministry throughout the development of the sector,” explained Designated Minister Ferrari.
Return on investment
Without a doubt, the development of this sector has cost a lot to Seychelles, but the belief is here that it will bring the cash in for our economy. Minister Ferrari noted that various infrastructure and experimental setups have been and are still funded by the European Commission through the Fisheries Sectoral Development Fund and the 11th European Development Fund.
“The European Commission has been one of our closest partners in seeing the fisheries sector develop further with the aim of achieving more sustainable levels. The African Union through NEPAD was a key supporter during the early development phases and today we see the continuous interest being show by the newer programme Grow Africa. The World Bank has been an instrumental partner through the SWIOFish3 project as it continues to fund key activities in the development of the aquaculture sector in Seychelles.”
Right now Seychelles has a solid Mariculture Master Plan, Environmental and Social Impact Assessment and an Environmental Management Plan to work with. The regulatory framework is complete and now we will be able to proceed with commercial, research and restorative projects.
“Economic feasibility studies have been done for many species and the commercial viability looks good especially on some of the prominent species. It will take time, but we will build on our Seychelles brand which will no doubt be a collaborative marketing effort on both the aquaculture and fisheries sectors. I see aquaculture as having a very strong symbiotic relationship with the tourism and environmental sectors as well and the opportunities for this inter-relationship to be exploited further is immense for Seychelles. This could be a great business opportunity for the private sector to explore and the possibilities are immense. We will become known as a niche, high quality producer of fish and fish products, with consistent volumes and quality of supply to some of the most important markets,” shared the minister.
According to the researches done, the local market, hotels and restaurants will benefit from these consistent fish volumes, crabs, sea urchins and other fish products being available, that will ensure we receive the right quality of seafood-loving tourists. Imported seafood will be reduced and we will become known as a seafood destination!
There will be possibility to develop a globally recognised high-quality Seychelles Brand for fish and fish products will open up new export opportunities with the consistent volumes from aquaculture making it easier to establish new markets such as Mainland China and Hong Kong special administrative region and Japan. This will be accompanied by new jobs and business opportunities
The head of the department of aquaculture, Aubrey Lesperance, acknowledges the struggle to make this sector a reality for Seychelles and the support they receive from the Seychelles Fishing Authority, the Ministry of Fisheries and the Blue Economy, other ministries, agencies, civil society, private sector and other partners.
“Now that the Seychelles Aquaculture Sector is officially launched, one of our key priorities over the next five years is for the SFA as the Regulatory Authority along with the Seychelles Investment Board (SIB) to drive investments in sustainable aquaculture in Seychelles. Our decision to adhere to the Ecosystems Approach to Aquaculture development is one that was not taken lightly. We believe firmly in its triple-bottom-line approach which looks at not only the economic benefits that could be generated but it also considers the environmental and social aspects. That being said, investors are being encouraged to take note of this important factor when considering investing in aquaculture in Seychelles. Already we have got interests from several countries but we need to work in collaboration with SIB to see how viable are they,” shared Mr Lesperance.
Mr Lesperance spoke thoroughly on how climate change is a potential risk factor that is affecting the fisheries sector and how aquaculture sector is being seen as a good option to address this potential risk to our economy. Besides, safeguarding our wild stocks will mean safeguarding our tradition as a fisheries nation and most importantly the livelihood for many of our fishermen as well.
The aim is to build on the existing strength of the country and further consolidate the market development of the Seychelles Aquaculture and Seychelles Seafood brand.
“We will need the cooperation and support of the key players in the seafood processing industry as well to achieve the full potential of the aquaculture and fisheries sectors, hence I call on your continued engagements towards this programme,” expressed Mr Lesperance.
In his concluding remarks, the chief executive of SFA, Nichol Elizabeth, expressed his thanks to the consulting firm, Advance Africa, who have been working with them for the past decade.
“I would also like to thank all the various ministries, departments, agencies, the civil society through Ceps and the private sector through the SCCI for the continued support towards the development of the sector. Without you it would have not been possible to reach this important milestone that we are celebrating today. I know that the real hard work starts now, but I think the team is mostly ready!”
“The expectations are high, and management and staff are now gearing up to continue the journey, this time, with much more strength and support to steer the sector in the right direction in order to achieve the sector’s vision. The SFA board and management are dedicated to support and see that the sector delivers on its mandate going forward. Nou tou nou pou bezwen donn en koudmen…”
During the launch, Veronica Uzice made a short presentation on the new Aquaculture Sector and Aubrey Harris gave an overview of aquaculture in the Indian Ocean Rim (IORA) Region.
The famous singer Thomas Knowles also sang a few songs on that occasion.
Photos by Jude Morel