Seychelles joins world in celebrating World Maritime Day |28 September 2023
World Maritime Day is being observed around the globe today, and the chosen theme for this year is ‘MARPOL at 50 – Our commitment goes on’.
Set by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), the theme spotlights the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL), which covers prevention of pollution of the marine environment by ships from operational or accidental causes.
Shipping covers over 80 percent of world trade, and is a crucial part of the global supply chain. Shipping is also a means of transportation for millions of passengers to destinations around the globe.
The MARPOL convention stemmed from the need to protect the planet, and, in particular, the marine environment from all sources of pollution. A number of maritime pollution incidents were a catalyst for strong action.
Secretary general of the IMO, Kitack Lim, in his address outlined the IMO’s role in discharging its responsibility as the global regulator for shipping, ensuring that the maritime sector delivers cargo safely, and in an environmentally sustainable manner.
“Over time, IMO member states expanded MARPOL’s coverage, starting from accidental and operational oil spills from tankers, to the prevention of pollution from chemicals carried in bulk, packaged dangerous goods, sewage and garbage, and ultimately, the prevention of air pollution from ships.
“Through these decades, MARPOL has constantly advanced to keep up with lessons learned and new demands, such as the imperative to tackle climate change, and to accommodate new technologies. Its rules are continuously upgraded as we look to a sustainable future, and enhance the protection of our planet and ocean,” Mr Lim stated.
Mr Lim added that MARPOL has changed how ships are designed and operated. He noted that the number of oil spills has fallen by over 90 percent over the last 50 years, due to the Convention and other targeted interventions.
“The latest efforts focus on driving the decarbonisation of shipping, supporting the global fight against climate change,” Ms Lim noted.
The MARPOL Convention was adopted on November 2, 1973.
The maritime sector in Seychelles
With a vast exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 1.3 million square kilometres, the maritime sector is one of paramount importance to the Seychelles.
The sector is integral to the Seychelles' economy, culture, and environment. It provides employment, supports tourism, enables trade, and is central to the country's sustainability efforts.
Economy: Seychelles relies heavily on its maritime sector for economic growth. Fishing and fisheries-related activities, including both artisanal and industrial fishing, play a vital role in the country's economy. Fish exports are a major source of revenue, contributing significantly to the nation's GDP and providing employment opportunities.
Tourism: The maritime sector is closely linked to the tourism industry, a cornerstone of Seychelles economy. The country's beautiful coral reefs, clear waters, and pristine beaches attract tourists from around the world. Marine-based activities such as snorkelling, scuba diving, sailing, and boat tours are popular attractions for visitors, contributing to the tourism sector's success.
Transport and Trade: The maritime sector facilitates the transportation of goods and passengers to and from the Seychelles. As an island nation, maritime transport is essential for importing goods and ensuring connectivity with the rest of the world. The country's ports and harbours are critical for international trade.
Blue Economy: The Seychelles has been actively promoting the concept of the blue economy, which focuses on sustainable and responsible use of marine resources. This includes efforts to conserve marine biodiversity, manage fisheries sustainably, and develop marine-based industries. The maritime sector plays a central role in advancing the blue economy agenda.
Security: Given its strategic location in the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles has a vested interest in maintaining maritime security. This includes efforts to combat illegal fishing, piracy, and other maritime security threats that can impact both the maritime sector and national security.
Spotlight on some key actors in Seychelles’ maritime sector
In commemoration of World Maritime Day, Seychelles NATION spoke to some key actors in Seychelles’ maritime sector.
“I work as part of the yacht crew at Waterworld Luxury Yacht Charters, where my role involves not only hosting clients during charters but also assisting in the precise manoeuvring of the vessel. Additionally, I take pride in precisely maintaining the yacht's cleanliness and overall condition while it is docked in the marina. My love for the sea and maritime interest dates back to my childhood, thanks to my uncle, who frequently took me and my cousins to the beach. This deep-rooted passion for the ocean steered me towards a career in the maritime. In my early years of secondary school, I made the deliberate choice to pursue yachting, driven by my profound fascination with boats and the desire to master the art of navigation.
“I am pleased to witness the increased presence of women in the industry compared to previous years, and it's particularly inspiring to see the Maritime Academy attracting a growing number of young women interested in pursuing this career path. The Seychelles Maritime Safety Authority (SMSA) deserves thanks for its effective communication of safety notices, which has significantly raised maritime safety and security awareness in Seychelles. In particular, there is a noticeable increase in awareness regarding the preservation of the maritime environment among various schools on the island and across different media platforms. While we celebrate these positive developments, it's important to acknowledge that there is still plenty of room for improvement.
“In Seychelles, tourism plays an important role in our economy, and one of its key attraction is the pristine beauty of our ocean. When visitors come to our islands, they frequently charter boats to explore into our enchanting underwater world, Hence the importance of protecting the purity of our maritime ecosystem. Furthermore, because Seychelles is a small island, we depend heavily on imported goods, making shipping a crucial part of our daily life and our country is also renowned for its delicious tuna, which plays a significant role in our economy. “Thanks to our many islands, we rely on maritime transportation to reach these diverse destinations.
“Maritime Day is an important occasion celebrating the remarkable achievements of the maritime industry. This event serves as a platform to raise greater awareness about the maritime sector, and to express our profound appreciation for the dedicated individuals who contribute to this vast field, including seafarers, scientists, port operators, and many others.
The maritime industry offers vast opportunities, and if a life at sea isn’t your preference, rest assured, there are equally crucial land-based roles awaiting you. This industry demands firm discipline and responsibility. You will gain personal growth as you embark on this journey. With determination, you can achieve remarkable success.”
“I am a professional mariner by trade. More specifically, I am a licensed deck officer responsible for the safe operation and navigation of seagoing vessels. In a nutshell, when I am at sea, I work with other members of the bridge team (onboard deck management team) with the sole objective of sailing the ship from the departure port to the destination port via the shortest and safest route. In doing so, the safety of the vessel, her crew, her cargo and protection of the marine environment always remain the most relevant while sailing across the ocean.
“Currently, I am the head of department at the Seychelles Fishing Authority where I am responsible for the management of fishing ports and other auxiliary facilities belonging to the authority.
“I had decided on a career in the maritime sector at an early age. My father who was a sea captain before he perished in a boat accident 26 years ago, had a major influence on my career choice. Although, I was still a child, I can still remember some interesting tales my father recounted during his sea going years. Even at such a tender age, I knew I wanted to become a seafarer at some point. It is noteworthy to point out that 2 of my siblings are also in the same line of work as me.
“For me personally, the Word Maritime Day is very important indeed. It provides a fitting occasion to recognise and celebrate the men and women who more often than not work under very challenging circumstances around the clock to keep this very crucial industry functioning. It is also a day which is supposed to provide greater visibility and insight into what the maritime industry is all about. This includes all the career and investment opportunities the industry has to offer. I just hope the younger generation especially the school leavers are taking note. A career in the industry can be very fulfilling and rewarding.
“The maritime industry is a multi-discipline industry. However, if I were to assess it generally, I think our nation has made significant progress to date. Having said that, however, I think we could be in a better position. This was glaringly evident during the Covid-19 pandemic. During those testing periods our fishing sector should have at least helped to significantly bridge the economic shortcomings of our then stricken tourism industry. That was not necessarily the case. I am sure though, that our nations' policy makers and other stakeholders have taken note and embraced the lessons learned.
“On a more positive note, the Victoria Port extension project will boost regional trade and economic growth due to increased tonnage and better ship/shore facilities. Many peripheral maritime services/businesses will benefit either directly or indirectly. We await patiently for this milestone project to kick-start.
The aquaculture project which is being spearheaded by the SFA is both commendable and pioneering. Once, in full swing, it should go a long way to achieve sustainable fishing objectives.
I take this opportunity to commend Seypec for taking a leading role in training and overseeing the development of our next generation of seafarers. Over the last 18 years innumerable cohorts of local mariners have been the beneficiaries of world class maritime education at some of the most reputable overseas training centres. Their investments in capacity building have been exceptionally huge over a period of almost 2 decades. They are now reaping dividends on their investments as evidenced by the many Seychellois seafarers who are now manning our fleet of deep-sea tankers in various ranks. We should all be proud of this achievement.
“The common cold storage facility is now up and running. Although, still in its infancy, it is proving to be a successful venture.
“The blue economy sector has also rose to prominence over the recent past. Through grants, subsidies and access to favourable credit facilities, the government is determined to further develop this sector by encouraging competent Seychellois to invest and take ownership of this emerging, but very important sector of our maritime industry.
“There are many challenges which keep plaguing our maritime sector presently. Chiefly among those are illegal fishing, maritime security issues and pollution of the marine environment. However, as a country and perhaps more importantly as a maritime nation we should remain steadfast and resolute in all of our efforts to surmount all these challenges. In this context we have to keep striving towards higher standards, best practices, more efficient monitoring, capacity building, further development of key infrastructures and ultimately greater economic profitability of the industry.
“As I mentioned above, the maritime industry is a collection of many sectors and stakeholders. It includes, for example, the fishing sector, commercial shipping and mercantile trade, maritime security agencies just to name a few. All of those are vitally important. We can spend days talking about each sector. However, I will briefly discuss the following examples below in an attempt to highlight the importance of our maritime industry.
“Commercial maritime traffic alone is responsible for the movement of 90% of goods from producing countries to consumer markets worldwide. With increasing worldwide demand for energy, raw materials and consumer products, it is forecasted that commercial shipping will be responsible for hauling up to 92% of goods globally every year in the not-too distant future. The maritime sector is therefore, unquestionably the lifeblood of world trade. Seychelles is highly dependent on maritime commercial shipping for almost everything that we need to sustain our country's economy. Purely on that basis, it is logical to label it as one of the most important sector.
“The fishing industry on the other hand can play a key role in achieving food security goals for our country. We got reminded of that fact during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak.
Without any doubt, the financial revenue from industrial fishing is critical for our economy. However, it is my wish that the economic windfall from industrial fishing activities which are taking place in our EEZ should be more than it is at the minute. After all, we enjoy jurisdiction over 1.4 million square kilometres of ocean.
“The conservation and preservation of the marine environment is also very important as it supports our tourism industry which is the main bread winner for the country as we speak.
Our maritime sector is very diverse and dynamic in nature. I think there are so many options for anyone, especially the youths who perhaps are contemplating a career in this sector. In terms of career development and progression, the sky is the limit. At present there are so many investment opportunities available for the competent candidates.
“So, in summary, it is the right time to join the industry. As I alluded to at the beginning, a career in the maritime sector can be very rewarding and fulfilling as long as there is commitment, determination and hard work along the way. As is the case in any walk of life, there will be hardships and challenges throughout the journey, but as long as those can be surmounted, the end results can be very enticing.”
Dainese Quatre was the first woman in Seychelles to receive a certificate of Marine Protected Area (MPA) Professionals last year, and is currently serving as a Fisheries scientist at the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA).
“I chose to work in the maritime sector as it is an exciting sector to work in, and I am always learning new things. The sector has always been male-dominated, and as a woman I am making a difference and proving to male counterparts that women also possess the capacity to contribute towards the sector. This is something that I have always tried to push for.
“Since Seychelles is putting much effort into developing the Blue Economy and the use of marine resources, this has also helped to further develop my interest.
“In my view the sector is vast, and developing very fast. There are a lot of new developments and the country is investing in a number of innovative ideas to further develop the sector. The maritime sector is very important for the country, as the second economic pillar. In fact, during the Covid pandemic, it was the fisheries sector, mainly based on tuna exportation and artisanal fisheries that were the main contributors keeping the economy afloat.
“Presently, a number of grants are available to non-governmental organisations (NGOs), for developing conservation and environmental programmes relevant to the sector.
It is a vast and still growing sector. I am happy that a lot of women are part of the industry, and that they occupy key roles that will help to further develop the sector. I would like to encourage other girls and women to join the sector as there are a lot of positions which they can occupy. “In fact it is one of the best sectors to develop a career in, as there are lots of opportunities to advance, meet important people and to travel while working in the sector.”
“I wouldn't say that I have an exact profession, but I dwell into a diversity of domains in the maritime field as a diver, skipper, and conservationist. I am also a student at the University of Seychelles, currently studying for a BSc degree in Environmental Science, as well as a part-time lecturer at the Seychelles Maritime Academy. I joined the maritime field after I took the inspiration from my grandfather who was a fisherman, my great-grandfather who was a seafarer working with the Seychelles Ports Authority, and my cousin who is currently a harbour pilot.
“However, I am more fascinated with the environment, and marine life forms, so I decided to build a career in marine science. My love for the ocean was ever since I was a toddler. At the age of 8, I went on my first fishing trip with my grandfather. I couldn't get over the excitement I felt that day. Seeing and exploring other islands on our fishing trips, brought me immense joy. My grandfather taught me about the different fish species we caught, their characteristics and preferred habitats.
“However, after he passed away, for a while, I lost the courage to go on another ocean adventure, especially without him, but with the support of my family, especially my grandmother and cousin, I joined the sector once again, but this time with a promise in my heart, to continue my grandfather's legacy.
“Maritime day signifies the celebration of every person involved with the maritime sector either directly or indirectly. It celebrates the hard work, devotion and sacrifice of the brave men and women seafarers worldwide, including the efforts of all operation handlers behind the scenes.
“The maritime sector in Seychelles is rapidly developing, and it has attracted a number of youths in Seychelles over the last decade to join this domain, especially young women working at sea and the logistic companies.
Despite tourism being the country's main pillar, I view the maritime sector with utmost importance and respect as it provides to us our main source of protein (from fisheries), it generates employment, it contributes to our annual GDP (through fisheries), and the majority of imports in the country are transported by sea.
“My message for the youths is to never give up in your dreams of becoming who you want to be. My message to the parents is to keep supporting your children and be part of their dreams. I urge the public to show the utmost respect to our men and women working in this sector, and to support and encourage the youths in our community to partake in marine related activities.”
Angelique Reddy is a Registrar at the Seychelles Maritime Academy, a post she has occupied for the past four years. Her job entails learners’ enrolments, marketing, data entry, as well as outreach activities among others.
“My interest in the maritime sector started from a very young age. I moved to Amitié, Praslin when I was still very young. My parents knew how to swim, and to them, it was a must that I learn as well, since we lived about five minutes from the beach. In fact, I was at the beach almost every day, after school and during the holidays. From the age of three, my parents, especially my mum took it seriously to teach me so that by the time I reached primary school I would be well equipped. She would take me out to the beach whenever possible, and my dad also joined in to ensure that I learned. My mum had a calmer approach but my dad was quite strict and rigorous in teaching us.
“I considered where I live to be the most beautiful place, with the views of the sunset, the beach and the surroundings. It was one of my main passions and is where I learned to fish, by the beach, on boards, and on the boat. I remember I would go out fishing with my dad and on Saturdays we would go to the beach with my mother. On Sundays we would go much further where my dad would challenge us and how we react when the sea is a bit rough, with bigger waves. He would always ensure that we knew how to prepare ourselves when going out to sea, how to protect ourselves, and also went as far an ensuring we knew the names of the different fish. In fact, he bought us a big chart with the different species to help us distinguish the differences between the different species.
“My dad would always tell me how to learn to swim from friends. Even as a skilled mechanic, he would tell me that he is more interested in the maritime sector. Swimming and fishing were his main hobbies.
“As I grew older, my interest also grew, and my dad would make sure to always teach me about species I had never come across before, how to handle them, and how to prepare them in the kitchen. It was truly fascinating for me, and was an opportunity for me to learn.
“Despite my interest in maritime, I changed direction in secondary school and instead opted to study at the National Institute of Health and Social Studies (NIHSS). I served as a School Counsellor for five years, and luckily I came across the Registrar post in the Seychelles NATION newspaper. I met the criteria and applied and secured the job, and after four years in the position, I am confident that I am a successful and fully-fledged Registrar, with the capability to discharge a number of responsibilities.
“When I joined the SMA, it was fairly easy for me to adapt, and I learned a lot on the job. I used to be very timid, but through the job, I have grown much more confident. My job is very interesting as I get to meet so many people in the industry, and my greatest source of satisfaction is when the learners graduate after successfully completing their courses. Our learners have so much potential and in my years with the professional centre, it makes me proud to know that I have contributed towards the success of each learner.
“Working at the SMA has also motivated me to learn to dive. In January of this year, I decided I wanted to become a certified PADI diver, and I was successful. I am now an open water diver, and I intend to go further.
“From my perspective, World Maritime Day is a major event, as it celebrates all who are involved in and support the sector. Working with the youths in a professional centre, I know that it offers a number of opportunities, although they may not come easily. The day celebrates all who are passionate about protecting our seas, to working for the betterment of our marine environment and who are passionate about passing on their knowledge and skills to others.
In my view there has been lots of development in the sector, thanks to multiple departments and organisations. I would like to see even more opportunities created for our learners and I feel strongly about this, as I feel that we need to see the maximum participation of Seychellois in the sector.
“I think it is really important that we protect everything related to our maritime sector, that we do not abuse our resources as we need to consider that as a small country with a small population, we need to protect what we have.
“There are lots of opportunities in the maritime sector although the opportunities may not come easy. There are many challenges but for those interested in joining the sector, they need to have the willpower. As long as they have the interest, a passion for the sector, as well as being willing to learn, it is the right sector.
“As for the young learners who are interested in joining the SMA, my advice would be to give their best in their studies and to put aside the distractions, as they will take up the sector in future. I would also tell parents to encourage their children to join the sector. They can conduct research and will see for themselves all the benefits and advantages.”
Compiled by Laura Pillay