Stakeholders discuss ways to protect Seychelles’ ‘Blue Gold’ |09 December 2017
One of the presentations during the symposium
The importance of fisheries for the Blue economy of Seychelles and the challenges of regulating fisheries and stopping illegal fishing were the focus of a symposium held on Wednesday.
These challenges were discussed across two panels with speakers from the Seychelles and from overseas.
The event, held at the Guy Morel Institute at Ma Joie, was organised by the Sir James Mancham International Centre for Peace Studies and Diplomacy (JMPC) and the James Michel Blue Economy Research Institute (Beri) of the University of Seychelles.
The first presentation by Philippe Michaud, a member of the Blue Economy Department (Bed), focused on ‘Fishing and the Seychelles Blue Economy’.
He noted that fisheries, considered as Seychelles’ ‘Blue Gold’, average around 41% of earnings to the country, specifically through the export of tuna.
“Seychelles exports around R40 million worth of sea cucumber per year, showing that the sea is largely responsible for the country’s revenue,” Mr Michaud said.
He said the government of Seychelles plans to issue a blue bond valued at $15 million over 10 years with guarantees from the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility to support the transition to sustainable fisheries.
Bonds are financial instruments to raise public and private capital for specific activities which can generate a return on investment. Blue bonds often fund the development of sustainable fisheries.
The second presentation entitled ‘Regulating fisheries and ensuring compliance’ was made by Johnny Louys, a member of the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA).
Through his presentation, Mr Louys touched on various measures in place to tackle the problem of illegal fishing.
These include surveillance missions and port side monitoring. But Mr Louys pointed out that a shortage of manpower is hampering their efforts.
The chairman of the Fishing Boat Owners Association, Keith Andre, also gave his views on the matter through a well thought out presentation entitled ‘An industry perspective’.
According to him, the best way to prevent illegal fishing and other crimes done to the habitat in the water is to simply control the sales of fish by fishermen and apply them to one central source, whereby they can sell the fish freely.
“The Seychellois people are patriotic and protective over our natural resources, hence the history of people simply entering a boat and going to fish. This is quite difficult to change as it’s our history. However people who harm rare and unique animals such as turtles, need to understand the great harm being done and stop these actions,” Mr Andre said.
In his presentation the chief executive of the Seychelles National Parks Authority, Flavien Joubert, spoke about the importance of protecting and conserving maritime resources.
He noted that the two major revenue earners for the country are fishing and tourism.
“Protecting precious animals and preserving the environment are key to attracting tourists and at the same time such animals can also be exported and bring much needed revenue for the country,” said Mr Joubert.
“We have four marine parks within the inner islands, and they are quite open, leading to incidences of resources being stolen. We’ve had many cases before where people have taken upon themselves to come and steal turtles from the marine parks. This is a big issue,” he said.
Besides these national challenges, another panel at the symposium explored challenges at the regional level such as how can the Western Indian Ocean region work closer together, what are the current challenges in information sharing, monitoring and surveillance, what capacities need to be developed on a regional level to better enforce fishery laws. Speakers included Gerard Domingue from the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), Sandy Davies from Fish-I and former Seychelles Minister for Fisheries Peter Sinon.