Negotiating the Seychelles-EU sustainable fisheries partnership ‘It is the role of the executive,’ says Minister Bastienne | 22 August 2019
It is the responsibility of the executive to undertake negotiations like the first round of the new Seychelles-European Union sustainable fisheries partnership agreement, Minister Charles Bastienne said yesterday.
Fisheries and Agriculture Minister Bastienne, who is leading the Seychelles delegation at the negotiations which started here on Monday, was speaking yesterday morning to update the public on the negotiation process and to answer to the National Assembly’s International Affairs Committee’s (IAC) concern that it has been excluded from such important negotiations.
Minister Bastienne noted that while the government respects the opinion of the National Assembly to differ on the approach that it is taking and for members to be eager to be part of the team negotiating the new partnership agreement with the EU, it is the role of the executive to undertake such negotiations be it on a bilateral or international basis.
“But once we conclude the negotiations and sign the agreement and protocol, these would be sent to the National Assembly for ratification. So we don’t see why the National Assembly should be part of the delegation to negotiate the same agreement that they are going to ratify,” Minister Bastienne pointed out.
Minister Bastienne went on to highlight the fact that National Assembly members were given ample opportunity to air their concerns and make known their views on the matter and put forward proposals as to what they want to include in the negotiations. This was during a public consultation as well as during a meeting with the International Affairs Committee. The minister stated that they did raise a few issues indirectly during their interactions and those issues would be discussed as part of the negotiations.
“Whether the National Assembly’s IAC representation on the negotiating team is proper or not I am not in a position to say, but I can state that the EU team does not consist of any EU Parliament representative,” said Minister Bastienne.
He stressed that the National Assembly had its opportunity to make its contributions to the negotiations and that nothing would have changed with their representation.
He further stated that once concluded the outcome of the negotiations will be made public.
Meanwhile, the first round of the negotiations ended yesterday afternoon.
The second round will take place in Brussels, Belgium in the coming two weeks.
Minister Bastienne said the Seychelles negotiating team is not expecting the negotiations to go into a third round unless the need arises and this is if there are issues of disagreement that will need to be discussed more at length.
He said so far they are satisfied with the way the negotiations are going.
Without going into details Minister Bastienne said this new agreement with the EU is placing strong emphasis on various important components, namely sustainability of fish stocks, the issue of fish aggregating devices (FAD), issues surrounding the seamen and fishers, the marine spatial plan, among others.
Minister Bastienne stressed that all the different aspects which are crucial to ensure that Seychelles gets the best deal out of the agreement are being put on the table to be explored during the negotiations and members of the public will be updated on the outcome of the second round of the negotiations once the team returns from Brussels.