Fisheries and Agriculture Review 2019 | 31 December 2019
Revamping fisheries sector, boosting local production
The Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture (MOFA) this year pushed to re-vamp the fisheries sector and to boost local food production, in line with the country’s priority towards food security.
Government approves for registered farmers and fishermen to be exempted from tax
Following consultative meetings by the Ministry of Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning and the Seychelles Revenue Commission (SRC) in which farmers and fishermen strongly voiced out the challenges they face in view of the volatility of these two sectors, government in September approved for the provision of an exempt order for registered fishermen and farmers not to pay business tax with immediate effect.
The decision does not apply for fishermen and farmers who operate under a company as they will continue to pay business tax at a rate of 15% on their profits. It is expected the exemption will encourage more investments in the two sectors and push for the revival of the agricultural sector and more local production.
Seychelles team up with FAO to eradicate hairy caterpillars
In October this year, the ministry signed a project agreement with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations towards the effective control of the invasive euproctis caterpillar (hairy caterpillar).
As per the agreement, US $148,000 provided by FAO will fund laboratory equipment and technical assistance from experts to build capacity of local staff of the National Biosecurity Agency (NBA) to handle the scientific work associated with Integrated Pest Management (IPM) which involves the creation of a database for insects and pests related to the species and designing stronger and more effective methods of control population of the species which has been wreaking havoc in Seychelles since 2015.
Agricultural biotechnology to boost food production
In the efforts to boost local food production, the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture and affiliated agencies are considering introducing agricultural biotechnology innovations in the national agricultural sector. As such, local farmers were in November introduced to modern agricultural biotechnology techniques through a workshop held at Eden Bleu Hotel, organised by the Seychelles Agricultural Agency (SAA) in collaboration with the United States Embassy.
Led by agricultural advisor within the Economic and Business Affairs Bureau in the US Department of State Dr Samuel Crowell, the workshop introduced farmers to innovative scientific tools and techniques to improve plants and animals, or develop microorganisms for agricultural uses.
Participants learned about biotechnologies’ numerous uses, including to develop stress tolerant and more nutritious crop varieties to protect natural resources and human health, in addition to food security, increasing agricultural sustainability, reduction of pesticides and how to increase farmer income.
Minister Bastienne expressed his support towards the employment of biotechnology tools and techniques “to make agricultural production cheaper and more efficient, to permit higher crop yield, to limit use of pesticides and to enhance nutritional contents of agricultural produce.”
Chicken abattoir reopens after major renovations and four-month delay
The Ferox Abattoir, Le Rocher reopened its doors for business in October following major renovations after a four-month delay.
The facility which forms part of the Ministry’s strategic comprehensive plan to boost chicken production to meet local demand which stands at 4,500 tonnes per year, was closed in February upon the instruction of the ministry as it was found to be sub-standard.
Visiting the poultry slaughterhouse two weeks after reopening, Minister Bastienne said he is satisfied with the renovation works and hygiene levels at the facility.
The slaughterhouse can cater to 10,000 chickens on operating days, although one of the concerns expressed at the time was that the factory was operating under capacity with only around 2,700 chickens for slaughter on operating days.
In 2018, only 650 tonnes of chicken were produced for the local market. The abattoir intends to increase the production demand to 50% in the next three years.
Business facilitation platform established to facilitate agro-food trade amongst IOC member states
Earlier this month, a business facilitation platform for the regional trade in agro-food products amongst member states of the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) was established, during a meeting with officials from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), an organisation of the United Nations.
The meet grouped together stakeholders to discuss the progress made on the Regional Programme for Food and Nutritional Security (PRESAN) which aims to reduce the Indian Ocean states’ dependence on imported products.
Secretary general of the IOC Hamada Madi said that the Indian Ocean states are capable of producing sufficient quality food to satisfy the food and nutritional needs of the region and reduce the negative environmental and economic impacts of imports from distant countries, affirming FAO’s support towards helping member states regain their food security.
Principal secretary for agriculture Antoine Marie Moustache noted the topographical limitations in Seychelles which justify the country’s dependence on food and agricultural imports but concurred that PRESAN constitutes an opportunity to meet domestic needs, but also to develop sectors which could have comparative advantages. He further noted that the development of intra-regional trade is a necessity to respond to economic growth and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions attributable to distant imports.
The platform is to be based in Madagascar, a central point for PRESAN.
** FISHERIES **
Development of aquaculture gets big boost with opening of BAQF
October saw the inauguration of a new Broodstock Acclimation and Quarantine Facility (BAQF), at Providence Fishing Port, a facility that is instrumental to the development of the aquaculture sector in Seychelles.
The facility, financed by the European Union (EU) boasts an impressive pumping and filtration system, and amounted to R15 million. A second phase is planned for the facility, comprising a multi-storey building to house the special hatchery where the fish eggs will be grown out, two laboratories and several aquaculture administrative offices on the upper floors.
The BAQF will home some flagship fish species such as Grouper (vyey), Red snapper (bourzwa) and others, who will be the parent fish for future generations of fish to be grown in the new aquaculture sector. From here, these broodstock will be relocated to an aquaculture research and development facility, where the fish will spawn, and the eggs will be grown out in the specialised hatchery.
Various trial projects have started including finfish in cages, mudcrabs in pens and sea urchins in flow-through systems, although Minister Bastienne noted that it will take time to produce commercial volumes and this must be approached with caution.
Ministry launches Fisheries Comprehensive Plan
Guided by the ministry’s vision towards a resilient and sustainable fisheries and agriculture sector that enhances food and nutrition security, contributes to economic growth and respects the natural environment, the three-year Fisheries Comprehensive Plan 2019 was launched by Minister Bastienne in August.
The document, developed to guide the future actions and spearhead the development for the fisheries sector for the next three years follows consultations with stakeholders and seeks to address the challenges put forth by them, namely, capacity control, lack of operational resources management plans, mismanagement of concessions and subsidies and lack of safety measures amongst others.
Among the provisions of the plan are a new fishing vessel classification system, safety standards and requirements for each class of vessel, a new vessel marking scheme and mandatory vessel registration with the Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration, the authority mandated to oversee the sector and implement the plan.
An important component of the plan are provisions geared at improving conditions for artisanal fishermen. In a bid to re-vamp the industry, the plan commits to numerous infrastructure projectsincluding ice plants, jetties, places to moor fishing boats in different regions including Glacis, Anse Etoile, Cascade and Baie St Anne, Praslin, at a cost of SCR78 million. Such projects will be implemented in 2020.
Seychelles-EU Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement
Following numerous rounds of negotiations, the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement and accompanying protocol between the European Union (EU) and Seychelles was renewed in October, securing the country €58.2 million (R902 million), in financial contribution from the EU over the next six years.
The sum, which is a €20 increase from the Fisheries Partnership Agreement which ended in November, with the corresponding protocol expiring in January 2020, represents a distribution of €9.7 million annually, a portion of which is dedicated towards the development of artisanal fishing.
The agreement gives EU vessels access to Seychelles waters while the accompanying protocol sets out the conditions including the set number of vessels allowed to fish in Seychelles’ waters, the set tonnage and employment conditions for Seychellois seamen on the vessels.
Under the new protocol, authorities can go directly to the EU to sell fish to Indian Ocean Tuna Limited, part of the Thai Union group, if the company is faced with a shortage, as it was the case in 2018.
Other new provisions of the protocol are joint-inspections of EU-flagged vessels and the Seychelles authorities, to ensure the vessels are compliant to the agreement and terms of the protocol, and monitoring of catch by the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) at any given time, through an electronic and monitoring system to be placed on vessels, inclusive of cameras.
Compiled by Laura Pillay