Stakeholders address maritime security | 20 May 2020
President Danny Faure yesterday held a meeting to address maritime security with relevant ministries and authorities involved in enforcing maritime laws.
The meeting follows on from measures announced by the president in response to the threat of COVID-19.
It was held with the aim of reviewing the existing system in place and to maintain effective maritime monitoring.
President Faure was briefed on the existing situation and measures currently in place in line with the Public Health Regulations, including the restriction of entry and exit into and from Seychelles via sea.
He was also informed on the deficiencies and gaps that need to be addressed to better secure Seychelles’ 1.3 million square km sized exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Officials present committed to reviewing existing regulations and proposing amendments where necessary in order to guarantee stringent protection of maritime security.
It was also agreed that coordination between key ministries and agencies involved would be strengthened.
Director for National Information Sharing and Coordination Centre (NISCC), Lieutenant Colonel Leslie Benoiton, explained to the media that the maritime space is not impervious to current regulations and guidelines set out for COVID-19 and the authorities need to also adapt to the ‘new normal’.
“We need to develop and strengthen coordinated efforts to deal with the maritime space, which is very huge and we need to coordinate law enforcement activities.”
“It is a new normal in the maritime space since we have new restrictions and regulations, and all seafarers need to be aware of why we are implementing these regulations. This is a very important factor because our economy depends on maritime activities,” Lt. Col. Benoiton stated.
On his side, the new chief executive of the Seychelles Maritime Safety Authority (SMSA) Captain Joachim Valmont highlighted the authority’s challenges which it is working towards overcoming
“SMSA became an authority on April 1 and the main issue is that we have gained a number of new mandates, and we need more staff,” Capt. Valmont said.
At present, SMSA is operating with only 15 staff and had initially budgeted for additional recruits but this was put on hold due to COVID-19.
“Our budget was cut and vacancies have been frozen, and we are in a tight spot. This, of course, does not stop us from starting work in the background and recruit one or two people to help us carry out our mandate.”
Capt. Valmont also noted that SMSA relies heavily on authorities such as the marine police and Coast Guard to efficiently perform its duties which it is important for all of these agencies to improve on their collaboration and maintain this collaboration post-COVID.
Also present at the meeting were Designated Minister Macsuzy Mondon, Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture Charles Bastienne, Chief of Defence Forces Colonel Clifford Roseline, Commissioner of Police Kishnan Labonte, director general of the Seychelles Intelligence Service Benediste Hoareau, principal secretary in the Office of the Vice-President Rebecca Loustau-Lalanne, principal secretary in the Office of the Designated Minister Sheryl Vengadasamy, Deputy Commissioner of Police Romano Songor, the interim chief executive of the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) Cyril Bonnelame and the Commander of the Seychelles Coast Guard Col. Simon Dine.