The new aquaculture sector – A Seychelles journey |07 December 2021
As part of the Seychelles Blue Economy strategy, the development of an aquaculture sector was one of the priorities of the government as a means to diversify the Seychelles economy.
After almost 10 years of scrupulous planning by the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA), the aquaculture sector was officially launched by the Minister for Fisheries and Blue Economy, Jean-François Ferrari, onOctober 16, 2021. SFA has been working relentlessly towards laying a proper foundation for the building of the aquaculture sector. This was done with the aim of enabling the new sector to flourish, while also mitigating the risks which might come with the growth of new emerging sector.
It all begun with the process of developing a Mariculture Master Plan (MMP) which commenced in early 2007 with a Rapid Assessment Study to gauge public and private opinion as to the desirability of developing marine aquaculture in Seychelles. Based on the positive outcome of this study a comprehensive scoping study followed in 2009 with the aim of assessing the opportunities and constraints to the development of an offshore mariculture industry and to assess the need for a Master Plan to drive the rational development of the sector. The Scoping Study revealed strong institutional support for the development of an environmentally responsible mariculture sector. This led to the initiation process to develop a MMP in 2011. During the period from 2011 to 2015, a number of technical studies, reports and data was gathered and generated, as part of the MMP. The MMP was finalised at the end of 2015.
The Aquaculture department at the SFA continuously bloomed after the finalisation of the MMP in 2015 from only two to just under twenty staff to date. The main objectives of the Aquaculture department are:
- Promote investment and sustainable growth in the aquaculture sector;
- Maximise the socio-economic benefits of the aquaculture sector for society;
- Promote aquaculture at the large and SME scale;
- Develop appropriate aquaculture technology through research and development;
- Develop the necessary industry support services for the sector;
- Build the necessary human capacity for development of the sector;
- Enhance the perception of aquaculture in the country and its many benefits;
- Promote aquaculture as an important component of integrated coastal management;
- Develop an aquaculture industry compatible with responsible stewardship of the marine environment and its resources.
The Aquaculture department’s roles and activities stem from the implementation of the Aquaculture Sector Development Plan that guides the implementation of the Seychelles National Aquaculture Policy (SNAP) by the SFA. The SNAP was approved by the Cabinet in January 2018. The strategic creation of the various sections within the department was to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Seychelles economy in line with its Fisheries and Blue Economy strategies. In addition to the implementation of the Aquaculture Sector Development Plan, the department is also responsible for upholding the Aquaculture Regulations 2020 which were gazetted in December 2020 and officially came into operation on August 1, 2021. These Regulations will supplement the current Fisheries Act 2014.
The construction of the Broodstock Acclimation and Quarantine Facility (BAQF) located at the Providence Fishing port was funded by the European Commission under the fisheries sectoral support fund. The construction and completion of the facility made the debut to the industrial aquaculture getting its first boost in October 2019, when the SFA formally opened the facility. The role of such facility aims to ensure that mature breeding stock, otherwise known as broodstock, are well cared for, can adjust to captive conditions, spawn and produce good numbers of high-quality eggs. October 2019 also marked the first ever in Seychelles, the deployment of the providence Pilot Sea Cages with the aim of supporting the sector. More specifically, the Pilot Sea CageProjecthastheprimaryfunctionoftestingthetechnicalandcommercialviabilityof culturingdifferentspeciesoffinfishinanenclosedseacageapproach.
Further to such mentioned two facilities/projects, an MoU was signed in 2019 between the SFA and the Seychelles Maritime Academy (SMA) with the aim of conducting sea urchin growth trials at a used space on the SMA tennis court in order to prove certain input parameters for future commercial investors in the aquaculture sector. Moreover, to provide SMA students with exposure to these scientific aquaculture trials as part of their aquaculture training and studies offered at the SMA.
By Rosabelle Gendron