International Fisheries’ Day message from Seychelles Apostleship of the Sea national director Albert Napier |20 November 2021
‘Our best wishes and solidarity greetings to all Seychellois and foreign fishermen’
“The Seychelles Apostleship of the Sea (Apostolat de La Mer) in collaboration with the Seychelles Seafarers Transport Association, Seychelles Fishermen and Boat Owners Association, do convey our best wishes and solidarity greetings to all Seychellois and foreign fishermen, their families and friends and all stakeholders, partners in the fishing industries on the occasion and in celebrating the International Fisheries Day which falls on November 21.
“The first time World Fisheries Day was celebrated was on November 21, 2015. It was the day when the grand opening of the International Fisheries Day Organisation was held in New Delhi, India where delegates (fishers organisations) from Asia, Africa, Europe and America joined together to commemorate this day.
“Throughout the world, fishers’ communities celebrate this day through rallies, demonstrations, workshops and public meetings, cultural programmes, dramas, exhibitions, music shows, mass services and blessing of fishing boats in the port to highlight the importance of this category of workers who play a very important role in supplying food worldwide and contribute enormously to the world economy.
Today as we celebrate the International Fisheries’ Day, let us take some time to analyse, evaluate and reflect on the more than 1.7 million fishermen who are separated from their loved ones, family and children, who are forced to work for weekseven months at sea, fishing and transporting fish from one port to another, facing the anger of nature, cyclone, burning sun, heavy rain and without forgetting attacks by pirates.
“Our local fishermen on the European Union (EU) tuna purse seiners (French/Spanish) are still being denied their right for a genuine work contract agreement. They do not benefit from gratuity benefit and they are still being employed as casual workers, though they continue to serve on the same tuna fishing vessel, same company for years. They have been victims and unpaid for years on the following rights, pension, Sunday at sea, annual leaves, tonnage payment etc…
“Though the semi and industrial fishing industry have modernised, small scale fishermen as well as artisanal fishermen, semi long liners and industrial fishermen, seafarers’ working conditions have not really improved as they continue to work for more than 10 and at times 17 hours per day, sleep in unhealthy and unhygienic living quarters or sometimes on the deck.
“They work for low wages and unpaid wages for months while their contracts are not respected by the captains, agents and boat owners, absence of shore leaves, are arrested and confined in police cell in ports, abandoned in port for months without food, fuel and other necessities by selfish shipowners, captains including insurance companies.
“Our artisanal fishermen still face the problems of lack of jetty and slipway, store and other infrastructure facilities in some fishing villages or districts. They continue facing issues of paying for high cost of fishing gears and equipment including lack of safety equipment in their fishing boats.
“The Covid-19 pandemic is affecting the fisheries sector directly by impacting the health of fishers and fish workers and indirectly by hindering their socio-economic development. These preventive and control measures including restriction on movement and lockdown have affected fish traders, created changes in consumers’ demand, generated logistical problems around distribution channels and fishers access to market and fishing grounds.
“Let us together pray for the millions of fishermen who continue to risk and sacrifice their lives at sea (perish at sea) while discharging their responsibilities.
“Let us invoke the blessing of Mary Star of the Sea to extend her maternal protection on the people of the sea (fishermen) and guide them from the dangers of the sea to secure ports.
“Happy International Fisheries Day to all local and foreign fishers and their families.”