The Seychelles Fishing Authority is taking steps to ensure that vessels under Seychelles and European Union (EU) flags that are fishing tuna in Seychelles’ waters bring in their quota of bycatch as per their agreement with the EU.
The chief executive of the authority told a press conference recently that normally these ships, as per declaration and agreement, should bring in 100 percent of their bycatch – fish or other marine species that is caught unintentionally while catching certain target species.
“This is mandatory. And if they do not do this, factories such as IOT (Indian Ocean Tuna) which is part of the agreement are not supposed to buy fish with these purse seiners. But what we have seen for these last years, is that ratio of bycatch and the purse seiners do not match,” explained Nicole Elisabeth.
Elisabeth adds that some boats do bring in their quota which is approximately between 15 and 20 percent of their catch. “Therefore the decision we are taking now is to write to these companies and let them understand that we see what is happening and if we need to take action, we will take action going forward especially those under the Seychelles flag,” said Elisabeth.
The CEO added that as the authority regulates these tuna vessels, they need to ensure best practices at sea, and ensure the country’s revenues.
SNA spoke to James Lesperance of JHL Company, involved in the sector adding value to bycatch and transforming these species into new products who said that there is a demand for these fishes.
“There is no wastage with bycatch as both fish in brine and those not in brine are used, though those in brine cannot be used locally,” Lesperance told SNA on Friday, adding that products made from the bycatch are sold locally and are also exported. For the moment, the entrepreneur said the fish are transformed into a variety of products ranging from sausages, fish balls, burgers, smoked, to filet amongst others.
Bycatch which is then transformed into fish products includes a variety of fish such as marlin, kingfish, Dorado and other pelagic species. (File photo: Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY
“Now the fish in brine, no Seychellois can buy this but we wash same well to remove the salt, it is then packed, frozen and exported to Sri Lanka and some African countries where they are then salted for consumption,” explained Lesperance.
Bycatch includes a variety of fish such as marlin, kingfish, Dorado and other pelagic species. According to Lesperance this activity is viable. “But for now, the problem we are encountering is that we are not getting any bycatch. The boats are not bringing any.”
Another issue that poses a challenge when exporting bycatch products is the fact that the certificate of exportation is issued from Europe. “Bycatch is caught from the Seychelles waters and the permit should be issued locally,” added Lesperance.
Value addition in the fisheries sector in Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean – is expected to get an added boost now that the Ministry of Fisheries announced last month the demarcation of a new fish processing zone on the manmade island of Ile du Port.