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Chat with Veronica Uzice   ‘Aquaculture is already producing over 50% of seafood consumed globally’ |23 November 2021

Chat with Veronica Uzice     ‘Aquaculture is already producing over 50% of seafood consumed globally’

Veronica Uzice

In October this year, we saw the launch of the Seychelles Aquaculture sector. 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.

Seychelles NATION recently met with one of the main protagonists in this sector, Veronica Uzice, to know more about herself and her work.


Seychelles NATION: Please tell our readers who is Veronica.

Veronica Uzice: I am married and I have a son, Joshua. I am my mother’s only child, but I have three siblings whom I love dearly, on my dad’s side. I also have a group of non-biological sisters which I’ve practically grown up with and who continue to be my support system year after year. I am an outspoken person, and I am also at ease with speaking to all kinds of people. I easily make friends and thus have friends in all corners of the world.


Seychelles NATION: Tell us about your childhood through your young adult years?

Veronica Uzice: I have always lived in the English River district and thus attended school at Anse Etoile (primary) English River (secondary). My mother’s house is next to my grandma’s, and that’s where all the family gatherings took place. A fair part of my childhood was also spent on Praslin at my great grandma’s house. I enjoyed a wonderful childhood, and I have a very close bond with my parents, especially my mum.


Seychelles NATION: What did you study and why?

Veronica Uzice: As most young adults, after my A-levels I was not sure as to what I wanted to study. I briefly studied geology in China but found it hard to cope with the language and thus returned home. I later went on to study through the government scholarship programme which I had previously qualified for. I did a BSc (Hons) in Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology at the University of Plymouth, UK. And an MSc in Applied Aquatic Biology at Portsmouth University, UK.

My studies prepared me for a career in science, but it also led the foundation for my current post, as policy and planning without science is really not ideal.


Seychelles NATION: When did you join the Aquaculture sector?

Veronica Uzice: After completing my MSc in 2015, my first post in the Aquaculture department was as an Aquaculture Research Officer. This year (2021), I was promoted to Assistant Manager in the Aquaculture Department.

When I first started, there was only my manager, Aubrey Lesperance, and myself, but the team has now grown, and we are now 17.


Seychelles NATION: What does your job entail?

Veronica Uzice: I am involved in a lot of planning and policy related matters. I also do a lot of education and awareness. I love teaching and discussing various aquaculture topics, be it with my colleagues, school kids or the public. I have done sessions in mostly all the schools in Seychelles, and I have done various sessions with other organisations and entrepreneurs.

I have also been fortunate enough to represent Seychelles at various international conferences and workshops where I have not only learned from different aquaculture practitioners worldwide, but I have also been able to share the Seychelles journey to them. A journey which has been long, but worth it.


Seychelles NATION: Why is there a push for Aquaculture in Seychelles and also why did it take long to get approved?

Veronica Uzice: Seychelles has depended on fisheries and the wild-caught fisheries industry for too many years, both of which are volatile. There is a need to diversify the economy and that’s where aquaculture comes in. Aquaculture has the potential to become the next pillar of the economy and thus support the two existing main pillars. At a time where Covid-19 has affected the economy of so many countries, including Seychelles, we must find ways to diversify our economy. Aquaculture will not only do that, but it will also create jobs, new entrepreneurial opportunities, prosperity for our people and a basket of seafood for human consumption, farmed in our sea.

It took a long time to launch the sector as there were various legal instruments that had to be put in place. We could not launch the sector without a legal framework, and we all know that formulation and approval of laws take quite a bit of time to complete. We needed to be able to have instruments that would help us with compliance and best practices, but most important of all to be able to protect our pristine water and environment.


Seychelles NATION: How viable is this sector?

Veronica Uzice: So many studies have been done. Various business scenarios have been analysed. Already we are seeing some very good results at our facilities, in terms of growth rate and food conversion ratios. Since launching the sector, we have also been approached by several potential investors, some of whom has already paid their application fees and are in the process of obtaining their license. Aquaculture is already producing over 50% of seafood consumed globally. Our data shows how much seafood we import as a country, mostly from farms across the globe. There is thus a local market already for such produce, albeit the sector is targeting the export market. And aquaculture is not new to Seychelles, we use to have a prawn farm on Coetivy which produced the best tasting prawns, dare I say. We also have a black pearl farm on Praslin which has been in operation since the 80s and is still producing black pearls to date.


Seychelles NATION: In your presentation you said, this sector will create 2000 jobs, please explain how will this happen?

Veronica Uzice: The projection shows that in five years post launch, the industry would have created around 2000 jobs. We have recently had a Human Capital development plan for aquaculture. The consultants’ initial reports show that the industry will need more vocational students compared to those of high academic capabilities.


Seychelles NATION: Right now where is the sector located and what are the services you are offering?

Veronica Uzice: To date, the government has invested in three different facilities.

The Broodstock, Acclimation and Quarantine Facility (BAQF), based at the SFA Providence Fishing Port, houses our parent stocks for production of fingerlings. The other infrastructure is the Sea Urchin Research Facility (SURF) based at the Seychelles Maritime Academy. We also have two pilot ocean cages based some 200M in the ocean off the Providence coast.

The three facilities together will provide support to the industry. This will be in the form of research, technical assistance, business models, production of fingerlings etc. 


Seychelles NATION: Any words of encouragement?

Veronica Uzice: I urge our people to follow a career in marine science, especially the girls. Use the opportunities available e.g., ANHRD has made marine sciences/aquaculture as a priority one for scholarships. Seize the opportunities!!


Compiled by Vidya Gappy



Aquaculture Division

The Aquaculture Division’s roles and activities stems from the implementation of the Aquaculture Sector Development Plan. The creation of the various sections within the department must align together within the department so as to ensure that its implementation contributes to the long-term sustainability of the Seychelles economy in line with its Fisheries and Blue Economy strategies. In addition to the implementation of Aquaculture Sector Development Plan, the division is also responsible for upholding the Seychelles Aquaculture Regulations which addresses activities set to take place within the Aquaculture Sector. These Regulations will supplement the current Fisheries Act.

The main objectives of the Aquaculture Section are:

• Promote investment and sustainable growth in the aquaculture sector

• Maximise the socio-economic benefits of the aquaculture sector for society

• Promote aquaculture at the large and SME scale

• Develop appropriate aquaculture technology through research and development

• Develop the necessary industry support services for the sector

• Build the necessary human capacity for development of the sector

• Enhance the perception of aquaculture in the country and its many benefits

• Promote aquaculture as an important component of integrated coastal management

• Develop an aquaculture industry compatible with responsible stewardship of the marine environment and its resources.

Seychelles Aquaculture is a government initiative for the development of marine aquaculture in the country and is currently in its implementation phase.



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