The new minister for fisheries in Seychelles says that over the next five years efforts will be made to raise the profile of the fishing industry — perhaps like the level of the tourism industry — so it can generate wealth which will contribute into the socio-economic development of the people of the island nation.
Jean-François Ferrari stressed that he will ensure that due importance is put on the development and transformation of post-harvest into high value-added products so that fish and other fish products from the islands are marketed internationally, the same way that Seychelles is marketed to the world as a tourist destination.
Ferrari spoke during a visit to the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) headquarters and the fishing port in Victoria on Tuesday. Apart from visiting the offices and infrastructures, Ferrari also met with the board of directors and management team of the SFA.
The new ministry head said more effort needs to be made to promote and market the country’s fisheries. “In tourism, we have an agency which specifically focuses only on marketing to go out and bring tourists to Seychelles. But where is the effort to let the world know that we have the best fish in the world? Where is the effort? Where are the resources, we are putting into this?”
The Minister for fisheries also met with the board of directors and management team of SFA. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY
The involvement of the private sector and the possibility of more investment in the fisheries industry is something else that Ferrari hopes to see and encourage.
Ferrari explained that more facilities especially those that will support land-based services for fisheries must be made available for the businesses and investors. The possibility of a wider range of activities can be realised, said Ferrari, such as services in repair and maintenance of vessels, the transformation of fish to high-value products fit for exportation as well as managing the ice plants which is currently being done by SFA. These services according to the minister will also lead to job creation in the sector.
The new minister said that the authority which was created 40 years ago was once prestigious and was renowned for its scientific researches, something which he said he hopes with support SFA can revitalise.
On the issue of the fisheries protocol which Seychelles – 115 in the western Indian Ocean- has with the European Union, Ferrari said that whilst the government respects the protocol signed, he will at the first opportunity that he has, sit with EU which he said is one of the island nation’s privileged partner to re-negotiate some components of the agreement.
“This agreement could have included other aspects that could have been more beneficial to Seychelles, and there are some provisions that will allow us to put forth our concerns and points, so that whilst waiting for the next agreement, we can make some adjustments so that Seychelles can be better rewarded for its blue gold,” said Ferrari.
Keith Andre, a fisher who also sits on the board of SFA, said the fact that the minster holding the portfolio for fisheries is also the designated minister highlights the importance that the new administration is giving the sector.
“We are looking forward to having a stronger representative within the Cabinet, which I felt in the past worked against the sector. We look forward to the new energy for the sector,” said Andre.
In the coming weeks, the new minister is expected to visit other fishing facilities in different parts of Mahe.