Seychelles and Mauritius agree on new terms for sustainable fishing

Seychelles and Mauritius have extended an existing bilateral fisheries agreement for 60 days that will see the increase in license fees and a new environmental and research fee, said a top government official on Tuesday.
The extension of the agreement is one of the outcomes of a five-day meeting between Seychelles and Mauritius. The meeting was headed by the two countries’ fisheries ministers, Jean-Francois Ferrari from Seychelles and Mauritius’ Sudheer Maudhoo.
The extension of the existing agreement was needed to ensure fishing activities being carried out by either Seychelles or Mauritius in the other party’s waters are not interrupted. 
The current agreement which was signed in 2005 will expire on February 19. The bilateral sustainable fishing agreement was the first between the two island nations allowing them to fish in each other’s territorial waters.
Seychelles’ fisheries minister, Jean-Francois Ferrari, said the additional 60 days gives the two countries more time to discuss further points for a new agreement. 
Under the interim agreement, there will be a 30 percent increase in existing license fees for purse seiners, longliners and supply vessels of either country when operating in the other party’s waters.
For the first time, an environmental and research fee of 2.25 euro per gross tonnage is to be paid by purse seiners each year. The two countries also agreed to the embarking of national seamen on their vessels.
After the signing of the interim agreement, discussions for a new agreement will commence focusing on the new license fees.
Seychelles is interested to carry out research at the Saya de Malha Bank – the largest submerged ocean bank in the world – according to Ferrari, who explained that the matter will have to be discussed with the Prime Minister of Mauritius, as the neighbouring country holds the administrative jurisdiction over the management of this Joint Management Area (JMA).
“The delegation from Mauritius will put this request before the Prime Minister and provide the necessary support so that Seychelles can carry out research there, especially when it comes to sea cucumber,” said Ferrari.
Seychellois sea cucumber fishermen suspect that there is potential for the extraction of the species at the Saya de Malha Bank. Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, is already exporting sea cucumber to Eastern and Southeast Asia, where it is considered a delicacy.
The Mauritian party spoke about the need for surveillance at sea against illegal fishing with the possibility to have electronic monitoring systems, not only on vessels bearing the two countries’ flags but also onboard those with flags of other countries. 
Both parties also agreed to work together to best safeguard and defend each other’s interests and position before the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC).

Source: Seychelles News Agency