A new government body will be set up to manage all commercial activities relating to fisheries in Seychelles as part of a three-year comprehensive plan launched by the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture last weekend.
“The aim of the plan is to continue developing and sustaining the fisheries sector, the second pillar of our economy. The ministry, together with the Seychelles Fisheries Authority (SFA), seeks to address the challenges impacting negatively on the industry and limiting its development,” Minister Charles Bastienne said at the launch.
The plan covers all aspects of the sector and outlines several new requirements for artisanal fishermen and artisanal fishing boat-owners alike.
The Minister told the National Assembly on Tuesday that the new body, also referred to as a government company, will allow SFA to stick to its mandate which is to manage marine resources and conduct research, something that the Minister said the authority has been neglecting as it was compelled to deal with other issues faced by the fisheries sector.
The new company “will undertake transactions relating to fisheries and fish products on the international market and ensure effective marketing of Seychelles’ fish so that the products get its due value,” explained Minister Bastienne.
According to Bastienne the company will develop, own, and manage infrastructures relating to the sector, participate in aquaculture as well as managing all ice plants. It will also be responsible for baits and other fishing gear.
“It will play a crucial role in food security and ensuring the availability of fish for consumption on the local market and more importantly it will ensure that during the north-westerly season, we stock fish, which will be available during the south-easterlies season,” added Bastienne.
Minister Charles Bastienne said the aim of the plan is to continue developing and sustaining the fisheries sector, the second pillar of the Seychelles’ economy. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY
The government company is expected to tackle many difficulties faced by the industry. Once established, shares in the company will be sold to Seychellois nationals.
Members who spoke at the National Assembly had concerns about the viability of the company. What is new with this company and what will be done to ensure that this company does work? And also why the private sector was not encouraged to join in.
They also wanted to know how all fisher people will benefit from the plan as well as people interested in transforming fish into value-added products. And overall how will the plan better the conditions and lives of people working in the fishing sector.
The Minister gave his assurances on the plan which he said is comprehensive and action-oriented, covering all aspects of the sector and was done in consultations with all key partners.
On Wednesday SNA spoke to people from the fishing sector to get their views.
Andre Lesperance a fisher from Perseverance, said that the company could prove to be a success especially if it will stock up fish for when the weather does not permit artisanal fishing.
“But my concern is, will they buy fish from us, and if yes, will they buy on our price or force us to lower our price so much that at the end of the day, us fishermen who have had a tough time at sea runs at loss?” said Lesperance.
Darrel Green, chairperson of the Baie Ste Anne Fishers Association told SNA that what is happening is confusing.
“Confusing because recently we had a meeting with the relevant authorities in which they discussed the development of infrastructures for the fishing sector on Praslin. In the same meeting, we were told that the association will run and manage the ice plant, so I really do not know what to believe!”
The new plan also makes provision for leisure fishing, recreational and leisure boats. In a bid to promote sustainability of marine species relied upon by artisanal fishermen, the plan makes provisions for the ministry and SFA to intensify their work to control and eradicate illegal fishing.
The plan consists of numerous other provisions geared at improving conditions for artisanal fishermen. It lays out an ambitious plan amounting to approximately $6 million for numerous projects including ice plants, jetties, places to moor fishing boats on the main island of Mahe and Praslin – the second most populated island – of the 115 islands which makes up the Seychelles archipelago.
The three-year plan of which implementation will start as of 2020 is being supported by the European Union.
Source: Seychelles News Agency