Compensation payment for Seychellois seamen |08 March 2021
‘The EU has let us down’ – Minister Ferrari
“The European Union (EU) has let us down,” the Minister for Fisheries & the Blue Economy, Jean-François Ferrari, has said.
Minister Ferrari was expressing his frustration over the fact that the EU has failed to come to an agreement for the continuation of compensation payment for Seychellois seamen under the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPA).
“I am sad and angry that we were not able to conclude the matter of outstanding compensation for our seamen. Seychelles did all the work and submitted all the data as requested and yet the EU was not ready to conclude the agreement as it wanted more time to question the basis of the compensation,” said Minister Ferrari.
The minister continued by apologising to the Seychellois seamen who have been waiting for too long for the compensation. He said that they had expected the payment to happen by the end of the first quarter but now it will hopefully take place by the end of April.
“The joint communique at the end of the session reiterated the fact that Seychelles delegation submitted and delivered record, information and everything to do with the payment. The EU delegation has accepted now to provide a feedback by the end of next month.”
In 2005 there were provisions that seamen be paid a minimum salary on the standards set by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) or international standard, but this was not the case as they were not being paid the minimum wage.
The salary they were being paid should have included bonuses but the companies they were working for paid them without including their bonuses.
The payments will cover two periods – when seamen were aboard EU ships between January 18, 2014 and January 17, 2020 where 45 seamen are expected to be paid and prior to 2005 which include 100 plus seamen.
The EU delegation in the meeting on Thursday March 3 and Friday March 4 included France, Spain, Italy and Portugal and from Seychelles side senior officials from the Ministry of Fisheries and the Seychelles Fishing Authority.
The purpose of the meeting was to review the implementation of the first year of application of the new SFPA and its six years implementing Protocol, and to discuss mechanisms to strengthen their cooperation and common efforts towards sustainable fisheries.
“We had a long discussion and went through all aspects of the agreement that concern us such as the implementation of the sectoral support fund, which serves to fund the development of fisheries in Seychelles. We reviewed sharing of data, reviewed stocks and how the EU vessels are performing in the Indian Ocean,” said Minister Ferrari.
He noted that Seychelles came to the table with an open mind, as Seychelles inherited the agreement and he always believed that there were points that we could improve on.
During the meeting, the parties also reviewed the state of implementation of the actions foreseen for the first year of the programme. The activities range from the construction of infrastructure dedicated to local fishermen (e.g., markets, gear store in La Retraite and budget for other district infrastructure projects for Mahé and Praslin fishing communities), to training activities, their impact, and discussed priorities for the future actions. The efficient availability of funds under the sectoral support for a Covid-19 Response Programme and the positive impact of the related actions on the local fisheries sector were recognised as an essential instrument to mitigate the Covid crisis notably through the food security programme implemented in 2020.
The parties also reviewed the fishing activities, the good level of utilisation of the fishing opportunities and the modalities to reinforce communication channels and monitoring mechanisms on the fishing activities, including through the further development and implementation of the Electronic Reporting System (ERS). The implementation of the provisions on embarkation of Seychelles seamen on board fishing vessels was also reviewed, and the Parties discussed modalities to enhance the application of such provisions.