Artisanal fishing associations to unite under stronger federation | 13 June 2019
Associations of artisanal fishermen from Mahé, Praslin and La Digue met in a workshop yesterday to discuss on the setting up of an Artisanal Fishers’ Federation.
The workshop was held at the Citizens Engagement Platform Seychelles’ (Ceps) conference room, Orion Mall.
The aim for the creation of the artisanal fishing federation is to group all the fishing associations under one umbrella so as to have only one voice when dealing in artisanal fishing matters with government and others.
Another aim of the federation will be to look at the welfare of artisanal fishermen and to see how best to help them.
As for the aim of the workshop, it was to get ideas and suggestions from the fishermen on what they feel should be included in the objectives, vision, mission etc…. of the federation. They had the assistance of freelance consultant Benjamin Vel who will, from the ideas and suggestions, draft the federation’s policies for registration at the Registrar’s office.
It was the different fishing associations that contacted Ceps to help in setting up the federation. As the main facilitator Ceps had invited all fishing associations as its original motive was to form a federation for all Seychellois fishermen in all associations but representatives from the artisanal fishing associations noted that the workshop was supposed to be only for them to create their own federation and not a federation for all fishing associations.
This caused some confusion which Ceps later attributed to some misunderstanding, which led to some representatives of other fishing associations not involved in artisanal fishing to excuse themselves from the workshop. Others remained as observers and they helped to contribute to the formulation of policies for the artisanal fishing federation.
The chief executive of Ceps, Michel Pierre, said: “We were approached by the artisanal fishing associations to help in facilitating a workshop for the creation of a federation that will group all artisanal fishing associations and we thought why not create a federation for the local fishing industry that will represent all the voices. But the artisanal fishermen insisted that it was an artisanal fishing federation that was supposed to be created today and not a federation for all fishing associations as they felt they are not well structured and not well represented yet to form part of a bigger federation.”
The artisanal fishing associations present for the whole day workshop were the Roche Caiman fishermen’s association, Bel Ombre fishermen’s association, Praslin fishermen’s association, La Digue fishermen’s association and the Shark fishermen’s association.
The Baie Lazare fishermen’s association and Glacis fishermen’s association were not present.
Other fishing associations present were the Sea Cucumber association, Zero Emission fishing association and the association of fishing long liners.
Other districts have not yet formed their fishing associations and this will also be one of the works of the federation – to help the fishing community in the districts to form their association.
“They don’t have a voice and even a place to go to voice their concern. There are different artisanal fishing associations out there and they can’t go and represent themselves individually in talks with government on the same issues affecting them so this is why Ceps as a facilitator is stepping in to help create this federation, which will be part of the civil society, so that they can structure themselves to go and talk as one voice,” said Mr Pierre, noting that the way forward is to formally register the federation after its formalisation so artisanal fishermen can start to reap the benefits.
“As artisanal fishermen, we encounter a lot of problems. Government had promised to put up infrastructure to facilitate us but nothing is being done just like in the case of promised ice plants. We also have problems to sell our fish, we have problems in getting fishing gear to work with and I can say that artisanal fishing on the whole in Seychelles has problems in every corner, and this is why we want to form this federation so as for us to have a voice that will be able to speak directly to the authorities on our behalf. As individual associations, we are not strong enough,” said Darrel Green, chairman of the Praslin Fishermen’s Association.
He noted though that fishermen should unite and come forward and support the federation through their associations, once the federation is set up.