‘Shift to sustainable fisheries not an option but a necessity’ | 11 July 2019
“The shift towards sustainable fisheries is not an option but a necessity that will provide suitable alternatives to the thousands of people that are employed in the sector and one that can also provide investment opportunities in innovative ways to supply fisheries related products for our increasing population.”
This was said yesterday by the secretary of state for Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning, Patrick Payet.
He was speaking at a half-day session at the Savoy Resort & Spa at Beau Vallon where officials from government department and agencies and investors in the fisheries sector had gathered to discuss and learn about financing and business opportunities in the Blue Economy.
The meeting held under the theme ‘Invest in the Transition to Sustainable Fisheries’ was organised by the Seychelles Investment Bureau (SIB) and the aim was to introduce to the private sector investors what is available as funds through the Blue Investment Fund (BIF); to start or grow their business, and also the kind of businesses they venture in, in relation to sustainable fisheries, to access the funds.
The meeting saw several presentations from the main stakeholders – the Seychelles' Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT)on the Blue Grants Fund and the opportunity to fund research, the Development Bank of Seychelles (DBS) on the Blue Investment Fund set up to assist in the implementation of better fisheries management and SWIOFISH 3 on the objectives, mission and the possible beneficiaries of the Blue Finance Funds.
The presentations were followed by questions and answers and networking.
The funds from international donors through the Seychelles Blue Bond initiative with the goal of financing private and public investments that are aimed at stimulating job opportunities and sustainable growth in marine resources conservation and expansion of the seafood value chains are being managed by SeyCCAT with allocation of US $3 million to provide grant assistance over a five year period for initiating business ideas. DBS also has been allocated with US $12 million to be disbursed as loans over a five-year period for investors to anchor their de-risked projects.
Present at the session were the secretary of state (SS) for Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning, Patrick Payet; the principal secretary for investment, Michael Nalletamby; the chief executive of SIB, Cindy Vidot; the chief executive of SeyCCAT, Angelique Pouponneau; and representatives from the DBS; the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA); the Investment department; the Blue Economy department and SIB and Jan Robinson, project manager SWIOFISH.
In his opening address, SS Payet said that like many small island states, Seychelles’ economy is highly dependent on fisheries, marine habitats, and other blue economy sectors such as tourism.
He noted that as the economy grows and fisheries become more exploited, we recognise the need to protect and rebuild our fish stocks through improved governance and management.
“Statistic shows that the fish stock has declined more than 60% in the last three decades and fishers now have to travel further and fish for longer. The shift towards sustainable fisheries is not an option but a necessity that will provide suitable alternatives to the thousands of people that are employed in the sector and one that can also provide investment opportunities in innovative ways to supply fisheries related products for our increasing population,” SS Payet said.
Speaking on behalf of SeyCATT, Ms Pouponneau said that all business proposals submitted for funding with SeyCCAT must have as their main purpose the conservation and/or management of marine and coastal biodiversity and/or ecosystem based adaptation to climate change in the Seychelles.
She noted that with SeyCCAT, applicants can apply for the small-medium grant up to R100,000 (US $7,500) and these grants will be awarded on the basis of an approved concept for a project up to 12 months. A sum of R100,000 (US $7,500) to R1,000,000(US $75,000) can also be applied as larger grants and the grants will be short-listed on the basis of the concept, and then awarded on the basis of a full proposal on projects up to 24 months. Co-financing is not mandatory for small –medium grants but co-financing is encouraged. Co-financing is also not mandatory for larger grants but the financing has to match the sum equivalent.
Ms Pouponneau further said that SeyCCAT has already funded around 14 sustainable fisheries projects since the disbursement of funds in October 2018.
Stephanie Vengadasamy from DBS said that following the assessment of the projects as viable for funding by all partiies, an applicant can get up to US $50,000 (R700,000) to US $3 million (R42 million) as funding for a project with a 4% interest per annum over a 15-year period. She noted that a personal contribution of 25% is also applicable.
Speaking on the beneficiaries of the Blue Finance Funds, Jan Robinson from SWIOFISH, said that eligible applicants for the grant and loan are Seychellois individuals, locally registered civil society organisations, government agencies, parastatal organisations, locally registered and Seychellois-majority owned firms, which may include small and medium sized enterprises engaged in the fisheries supply chain, larger public-private partnerships and local-foreign joint ventures.
A participant, Beatty Hoarau, co-owner of the fishing boat ‘Albacor’, said the grant and loan initiative are commendable as there is a lack of long-term financing in fisheries especially in the domestic sector.
He noted that even though loans can be obtained from commercial banks, the Blue Investment Fund is more appropriate as the interest rate is lower and more favourable. His only concern is with DBS who is not taking charge in leaseholding properties belonging to government and SFA which he said more consultations need to be debated on the matter as most small-medium enterprises based on land belong to government or SFA.
The meeting was closed by PS Nalletamby.