Seychelles in talks to develop Somalia’s blue economy


04-July-2013

Minister Morgan and Minister Holmås signing the MoU

The aim of Seychelles’ involvement is to help rebuild the war-torn state’s economy and help address the root cause of piracy in the region.

Mr Morgan made the remarks while speaking to the media recently when he signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Norwegian Minister for International Development, Heikki Holmås, to continue the collaboration between the two countries in ongoing efforts against piracy.

The agreement also declared a clear intent that should any Norwegian vessels operating under anti-piracy missions capture pirates, the prisoners would be transferred to Seychelles where they would be afforded humane treatment and a fair trial.

Mr Morgan said the two ministers had discussed the possibility of collaborating to develop Somalia’s fisheries sector.
“We discussed how the two states of Seychelles and Norway could contribute to rebuild Somalia and its economy, while maintaining the very strong requirements such as Operation Ocean Shield to bring safety and stability to the region,” said the minister.

The Norwegian multi-purpose frigate HNoMS Fridtjof Nansen is the flagship leading Operation Ocean Shield, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (Nato) counter-piracy mission off the Horn of Africa. Nato has been helping to increase the general level of security in the region since 2008.

Nato’s role is to provide naval escorts and deterrence, while increasing cooperation with other counter-piracy operations in the area in order to tackle evolving pirate tactics.

Minister Morgan said Seychelles had taken part in a meeting on Somalia in Nairobi and said the country was prepared to help Somalia in the field of fisheries management, resource training, fishery patrols and the development of the blue economy for Somalia.

“We are actively engaging several international partners, including Norway, and soliciting their support in order to help Seychelles extend this capacity towards the Somalis,” he said. “We already have a lot of expertise and we are the leader in the region in fisheries resource management.”

Mr Morgan added that one of the other ways in which Seychelles would consider helping Somalia was with the air surveillance of its exclusive economic zone to protect its own fisheries sector.

“Port Victoria is also ideally placed as the main tuna trans-shipment hub of this part of the world to help the Somali fisheries develop and to act as the port of transit, because at the moment the port of Mogadishu and other ports in Somalia do not have this capability to act as a trans-shipment centre for their fisheries,” said Mr Morgan.

The minister cautioned the international community against complacency now that the numbers of attacks had gone down.

“If we were to remove Operations Atalanta and Ocean Shield from the western Indian Ocean tomorrow, I can guarantee you that the pirates would be back. It’s important that we realise this and we don’t lose focus on the ever-present threat, a threat which will in my opinion only disappear when we can bring the reconstruction of Somalia through good governance and the development of the Somali economy back online after 20 years as a failed state.”

Mr Holmås said that piracy needed to be fought in two ways; by attacking piracy itself and by attacking the root causes of piracy, and he added that Seychelles was playing a leading role in the fight against piracy.

Mr Holmås praised the “strong and important” relationship with Seychelles in the anti-piracy endeavours.
“We can sleep well and rest assured that when people are caught and accused of piracy, we know that they will get a free and fair trial here,” he said.

“Most pirates who are then convicted prefer to be sent back to prison in Somalia, so they go to prisons that are built with Norwegian money because we feel that it is important that there are decent prisons there where people are treated in a humane way. That also leads to them leaving the Seychelles when they have had a fair trial, which is also important to both of our countries,” he added.

The Norwegian minister’s itinerary also included a tour to the Regional Anti-Piracy Prosecutions Intelligence Coordination Centre (Rappicc), located at the former coast guard base, and a tour of prison facilities for awaiting-trial pirates.

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