Comesa films documentary on food and safety concerns in Seychelles


The film aims at documenting the main food and plant safety concerns in Seychelles, and how these are being addressed by the various stakeholders.

Those interviewed include the Seychelles Bureau of Standards Fish Inspection Unit, fish exporters, fishermen, farmers, market vendors as well as officials from the ministries of Trade, and Agriculture.

One of Comesa’s major objectives is to facilitate free and fair trade in the region and beyond and it has been noted that various sanitary and phyto-sanitary issues hinder the movement of goods and services between Comesa member states and its trade partners around the globe.

In Seychelles it has been established that the fishing industry is constrained by especially the European Union (EU) standard that requires that the mercury lead levels in the exported fish is below 1-part-per-million (1ppm). This limits the export of the larger fish, for example shark, sword fish and red snapper that are on top of the food chain. These fish accumulate more mercury in their lifetime due to their predatory nature, and habitat environment.

Joseph Tirant, the managing director of Oceana Fisheries Company Limited, said that neigbouring Reunion Island sells fish to the EU market from the same water source but because the Reunion Island is a colony of France, the rules of origin that apply to it are different in the market place.

“This is a technical barrier to trade and we should have it addressed conclusively,” he said.

He called on Comesa to support Seychelles in conducting the necessary research to have evidence for the EU to show that the levels of mercury required as the set standard are not realistic, and that the fish products are the same from all the European countries.

“The standard of 1ppm is not realistic based on the natural habitat and feeding habits of the targeted fish; and so it should be analysed and revised with the support of Comesa,” Mr Tirant said.

There is also a lack of good laboratories as well as expertise in the areas of standard setting and testing for required SPS measures, and these have been identified as priorities to be addressed.

“Our other concern is food security and we cannot forever rely on imports to sustain the growing population,” said Mrs Mermedah Moustache, the senior policy analyst in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Industry.

The documentary was filmed on the sidelines of the USAID supported workshop for Seychelles officials to understand and apply the Multi-Criteria Decision Analysis (MCDA), in order to set the nation’s food and plant safety priority areas for investment.

The framework has so far been successfully applied by Comesa and USAID in Malawi, Uganda, Ethiopia, Zambia and Mozambique to identify and prioritise SPS capacity building needs.
The documentary will be used to record the region’s achievements and strengths; as well as get further assistance into the areas of animal and plant health, disease and pest control and ultimately increase trade access and food security for the Comesa region.


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