In the National Assembly - Government intensifies effort to address illegal fishing |15 July 2021
Recently the government has intensified its response to the scourge of illegal fishing when our security forces supported by reliable intelligence intercepted and arrested several fishing vessels suspected of illegal fishing in our waters.
Following their arrest and after they were found guilty, they paid the consequences.
The Minister responsible for fisheries Jean-François Ferrari has said these are examples of how we are reacting and dealing with the scourge of illegal fishing. Additionally he said Seychelles is also carrying out a lot of prevention work and this in close collaboration with regional and international countries.
He added that he never misses an occasion to inform representatives of foreign countries whose nationals conduct illegal trafficking in our waters that these activities should stop because the consequences are serious. He said recently he briefed the new Sri Lankan high commissioner, the Omani ambassador among others on the situation and that the destruction of the vessels seized are being considered and will be carried out if citizens from those countries continue to ply their illegal trade in our waters.
“Our country has sent a very clear message to the region and the world that we are small and our resources are limited and the theft of these species will not be tolerated. We will track down the culprits and catch them. Some will escape once, twice or several times but when they are caught the consequences will be hard and severe,” said Minister Ferrari.
Meanwhile, the government will continue to invest in modern surveillance and crime detection equipment.
Minister Ferrari gave these details to the National Assembly on Tuesday when answering a question by MNA for Mont Buxton Gervais Henrie who wanted to know the details about specific work that the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) and the Seychelles Coast Guard are doing to address the problem of illegal fishing which can impact heavily on our fish stock and what the ministry is doing to address the issue with neighbouring countries whose citizens are involved in these activities.
Minister Ferrari noted that since taking over the responsibility of the department of fisheries cooperation between the different agencies involved in the surveillance of our exclusive economic zone (EEZ) has been strengthened and reinforced.
“The Seychelles EEZ is a vast expanse of territory to patrol and its importance has increased since President Wavel Ramkalawan announced that the fisheries sector and all industries involved in the blue economy will be encouraged to develop the sector to make it among the most important pillars of our economy,” Minister Ferrari told Assembly members.
He said the cooperation which has developed and is being strengthened every day, is very active and involves not only the Seychelles Coast Guard (SCG), the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) but all other maritime intelligence services based in the country.
Minister Ferrari further highlighted that both the SFA and the SCG possess great reactive and very active surveillance capacities in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
“But nevertheless we all know that even though we have the best surveillance mechanisms in place, they do not function and operate by themselves but to better protect our EEZ and marine resources ,we need a government with a political willingness to address all these maritime threats,” Minister Ferrari remarked.
He said this is not always easy because the culprits are often from countries with which Seychelles already has good relations or is seeking to strengthen relations with.
“It is therefore necessary for the government to stand firm and make its voice heard on the issue of illegal fishing and it should not be afraid to point out where things are wrong,” Minister Ferrari stressed.
Minister Ferrari availed of the opportunity to thank all local, regional and international agencies, international fleet for their continued support and cooperation and local fishermen who continuously report suspicious illegal activities by foreign vessels. He noted that in the past there were talks to reward these fishermen for their acts of courage and bravery, but the principle of this has never been clear. He said the fisheries department in collaboration with the SFA is working on clear principles to bestow this award on deserving fishermen in a clear and just manner.