Tuna Fishery Management Plan to focus on sustainability |03 March 2023
By Laura Pillay
Seychelles is in the process of drafting a Tuna Fishery Management Plan, towards ensuring the sustainability of tuna fishery and the active management of the industry.
The aim of the plan is to promote the effective and holistic development, management, conservation, and equitable use of tuna resources in the Seychelles, in line with the Fisheries Policy and Strategy 2019, as well as international agreements that Seychelles is party to.
In line with government’s vision for management plans to be developed by stakeholders, a two-day workshop grouping together both the public and private sector kicked off yesterday morning at the Eden Bleu hotel.
In his opening remarks, Designated Minister and Minister for Fisheries and the Blue Economy, Jean François Ferrari, highlighted the increasing importance of “getting more from less”, and in having more active management of tuna fishing in Seychelles’ waters, and other areas fished by Seychelles-flagged vessels.
“As our economy is so intricately linked to the tuna fisheries, problems with the stocks will translate into problems with our economy and problems for each and every household. As a country that is highly dependent on the tuna fishing industry, we need to show leadership and do whatever it takes to ensure that the Indian Ocean tuna fishery remains sustainable,” Minister Ferrari stated.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) ‘State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture’ 2022 report, the percentage of stocks fished at biologically unsustainable levels has been increasing from 10 percent in 1974 to 35.4 percent in 2019. In regards to tuna, the report highlights the need for effective management, better reporting and access to data and the implementation of harvest control rules across all tuna stocks, to maintain stocks at a sustainable level and rebuild overexploited stocks.
In order to ensure that the management plan is implemented in an effective and transparent manner, the Fisheries Management Division within the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) has to be strengthened with additional staff with the right capabilities to oversee the management of fisheries. Monitoring control and surveillance efforts must also be intensified to ensure that all actors in the fishery are legitimate and abiding by the agreed license conditions, Minister Ferrari added.
Team leader and consultant Jude Bijoux explained that over the course of the two days, feedback and inputs from the stakeholder-driven process will be compiled into the first draft of the plan, with the support of IOS partners.
“We will be addressing everything, starting from a vision for tuna fishery in Seychelles, our goals in terms of stocks, social goals, finance, as well as governance and how the fishery is managed. We will also address control and surveillance, and how to evaluate the plan once it has been drafted,” Mr Bijoux said.
“We need to include a system to allow for evaluation when necessary, and so when the time comes, the protocol remains unchanged,” Mr Bijoux added.
From the workshop, different working groups will be addressing specific issues, namely, identifying and prioritising the issues in tuna fisheries, defining the scope, vision, purpose and objectives for the plan, identifying and prioritising options for new conservation and management measures, among others. Further meetings are to be held.
The draft plan is expected to be ready for circulation by April 2023.
A second workshop is to be held next week towards the drafting of a Tuna Industry Development Plan. Scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, the workshop will focus on weaknesses and opportunities of the Seychelles tuna fishery and industry and strategies for addressing threats and enhancing opportunities.
It will also feature presentations and discussions of results on Bio-economic modelling for selected Seychelles tuna fisheries, and corresponding measures for the National Quota Management System (NQMS), as well as the options for the tuna fishery and industry development pathways and stakeholders prioritisation of development pathways.
“The tuna industry encompasses fishing as well as all the other services that have developed around tuna fishery such as reparation services, clearing and forwarding services, and employment services,” Mr Bijoux said.
“The industry is dependent on a number of things, land, road conditions, shipping, having enough container points at the port, so we will discuss all of these matter to ensure that we have an industry that functions effectively, and that we can make use of the tuna and industry to bring about social and economic benefits to the country,” Mr Bijoux added.
Both workshops are being facilitated by IOS partners.