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SFA working overtime to resolve temporary halt in ice supply |23 September 2023

The Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) has announced a temporary setback in the production of ice, but says it is taking a proactive approach to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

The challenge stems from two ice-producing machines – one situated at Providence and the other at the Victoria Fishing Port – experiencing technological glitches.

According to Captain Christopher Renaud, the slowdown in ice production prompted an immediate investigation by SFA.

He said the ice production machine at the Fishing Port in Victoria encountered internal issues, specifically a sensor failure. The SFA is actively addressing this problem by proceeding with the procurement of additional sensors.

Typically, SFA maintains a stock of these sensors for maintenance purposes, but the challenge arose during a period when it was in the process of replenishing its inventory.

Captain Renaud explained that SFA has a well-established protocol for sensor replenishment. “Normally, when our stock of sensors reaches zero or just one, we initiate a requisition process to obtain the required parts,” he noted. However, the timing of these internal issues couldn't have been less fortunate, occurring precisely when SFA's sensor inventory was at its lowest.

When the sensor started to fail, causing a decrease in production, SFA immediately reached out to a service provider for assistance. The service provider assured SFA that the necessary parts were available for purchase, and they would be expedited, possibly within a few days, even via DHL.

To mitigate the impact on the fishing industry, both artisanal and semi-industrial, the SFA has implemented several measures. It has adjusted its booking system to accommodate the shortage of ice. Previously, if a booking was made for two days, it may now be stretched out, resulting in delays for fishermen in obtaining ice. Additionally, while the other ice production machines in Providence and Victoria are operating at maximum capacity, the increased demand means it will take longer for everyone to access the ice they need.

Despite these challenges, SFA is actively working to ensure a consistent ice supply and minimise disruptions to the fishing industry. It is monitoring ice sales closely and will consider redirecting resources to locations with lower sales if necessary. This decision will be made after a certain time, typically around 10am when it assesses the available ice stock, which usually takes around 24 hours to produce. The goal is to maximise distribution and alleviate pressure on the affected facilities.

SFA is making every effort to expedite the recommissioning of another ice plant, albeit a smaller one. In a remarkable display of efficiency, it managed to locate and install a smaller ice plant from its inventory within the same week. This step was taken to alleviate the mounting pressure caused by the equipment failure.

Captain Renaud further assured that the ice plant on Praslin is functioning without any issues. Additionally, significant repairs and maintenance have been carried out on the La Digue ice plant, ensuring its optimal performance. Consequently, it does not anticipate any issues in different districts regarding ice supply.

Captain Renaud shared that they anticipate it will take approximately two to three weeks to restore everything back to normal.

He explained, "We do have certain contracts that we adhere to, where we purchase the sensors, and the company responsible for these machines comes to install them. Being a small nation with a limited number of service providers, we are primarily focused on two or three of them. Unfortunately, these machine parts take some time to arrive in the country. The sellers require time to receive payment, and once confirmed, it takes three days for shipping and another three days for customs clearance. While we wish we could expedite the process and have the parts delivered and installed the next day, the logistics involved simply do not work that quickly. It is going to be in the weekends as well so we have Saturdays and Sundays where work is limited until Monday.”

The machine breakdowns occurred with unfortunate timing: the one in Victoria broke down on Thursday, while the one in Providence encountered issues on Tuesday. This double setback significantly disrupted SFA's operations, especially since it was already in the process of repairing the Providence machine when the additional issue arose with the Victoria machine breaking down.

Captain Renaud stated that SFA wants the public and fishermen to know that it is doing every thing in its power to be able to solve this issue and apologises for this unfortunate occurrence.


Sunny Esparon

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