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National Assembly kicks off debate on EU-Seychelles fisheries agreement | 17 June 2020

Members of National Assembly yesterday commenced their debate on the new fisheries agreement between the European Union (EU) and the Seychelles and its adjoining protocol.

It was the leader of government business, Charles De Commarmond, who brought two motions concerning the agreement and protocol for the consideration and approval of the National Assembly.

The new EU-Seychelles Sustainable Fisheries Partnership agreement and protocol seeks to renew the former agreement which came to an end in November 2019 and the corresponding protocol which expired on January 17, 2020.

The agreement is worth €58.2 million, or about R1.16 billion, which Seychelles will receive over the next six years.

Negotiations for their renewal kicked off between the EU and Seychelles in August 2019, and were followed by a second round of negotiation in September 2019, a third round early in October 2019 and a final one on October 22, 2019.

Given that the EU had yet to approve the agreement by January 17, 2020 – the date when the former agreement expired – EU-flagged vessels were banned from fishing in Seychelles waters until the EU finally signed the agreement on February 24.

The Fisheries Partnership Agreement between Seychelles and the EU, the first of which was signed in 1987, gives EU fishing vessels access to Seychelles waters in exchange for financial contributions.

It establishes the principles, rules and procedures governing the economic, financial, technical, and scientific aspect of this cooperation, including conditions for EU fishing vessels gaining access to Seychelles waters, and the management, control and surveillance measures governing their activities.

The protocol however sets the number of fishing vessels allowed to fish in Seychelles, reference tonnage and annual fees to be paid by the EU, employment conditions of Seychellois seamen embarked on those vessels, and the terms and conditions the vessels have to comply with.

Fisheries and agriculture minister Charles Bastienne appeared before the National Assembly prior to the debate yesterday to provide details on the condition of the new agreement and answer the members’ queries.

Minister Bastienne noted that the new fisheries agreement takes into account new developments in Seychelles fisheries laws as well as sustainable fishing, scientific cooperation, support of the local by-catch industry and the fight against illegal fishing.

For the first time, Seychelles has also been successful in obtaining around €1 million for the period of six years, or €175,000 per year, which will be put in a fund for marine preservation.

EU vessels are also mandated to take at least two amateur seafarers to work onboard their vessels and will now have to pay a penalty of €35 for each day they are in Seychelles’ EEZ without these two seafarers, instead of €20.

Discussions surrounding the agreement will continue in the National Assembly today.

 

Elsie Pointe

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