World Fisheries Day 2023 |21 November 2023
‘Let’s reflect on how we can all contribute to sustainable fishing’ – SFA CEO
“Fisheries are the essence of the Seychellois culture and we celebrate their contribution on a daily basis in the nutritious food that fisheries provide and the livelihoods that they support. While the current generation benefits from the labour of our fishers, fishing is a deep-rooted tradition that has underpinned every aspect of the history and growth of the nation. Fisheries Week this year revolves around the theme ‘Role of Ports’, while its slogan, ‘Harmony beneath the waves, sustainability in our hands’, provides an opportunity to recognise our shared responsibility to manage fisheries sustainably and endow future generations with the same benefits we receive.
“Seychelles’ vast exclusive economic zone represents a natural endowment and the supreme part of what constitutes the archipelagic nation. In addition to fisheries, the ocean is the natural capital for many other economic activities such as trade and tourism, yet many of us will never get to see beyond a small fraction of that realm. It is through our ports that we are connected to the wider world, but also to the diverse and productive natural resources that our ocean yields, provided by ecosystems that most of us would otherwise have little relation to. A visit to a fish landing site as fishers return after a hard day at sea opens up that world to us.
“The significant investments made in recent years to modernise fish landing site infrastructure and bring more services to fishers and consumers are reflective of the vital role that ports play in our economic development as well as our culture. Traditions are of course important, but we must strive to better connect fishers to consumers, ensure that fish can be marketed in a hygienic environment, promote the supply of quality produce, and reduce the waste that is creating a burden for our waste management systems. While many of these goals also apply to the way fish are handled at sea, it is in our ports that fishers first connect to the rest of the value chain, whether the catch of the day is sold to the public on the way home from work or is destined for processing and distribution to distant corners of the world. The opening of new fishing port infrastructure on Praslin at the end of Fisheries Week will mark the latest effort to better serve our Praslinois fishing communities.
“The slogan ‘Harmony beneath the waves, sustainability in our hands’ reminds us of our shared responsibility in safeguarding our resources to maintain the functioning and productivity of ecosystems such as coral reefs. Recent years have seen major improvements in the ways our fisheries are managed and governed. Fisheries management plans are the key instruments by which SFA implements measures aimed at achieving sustainability. Importantly, these plans are now governed through a co-management approach, ensuring that fishers and other stakeholders contribute to decision-making and in holding the authority to account in implementing measures equitably and effectively. This shared responsibility by stakeholders for managing our fisheries brings further benefits in that the experience and the traditional knowledge of our fishers can compliment scientific data in developing management measures. Working together, we are now delivering more impactful approaches to governance.
“Stakeholders have made great progress in implementing the Mahé Plateau Trap and Line Fishery Co-management Plan and SFA has been enforcing related regulations for over a year. It is clear that compliance with regulations such as size limits is generally good, but the slogan of this year’s Fisheries Week reminds us that it is our shared responsibility to work towards further improvement. Again, this highlights the role of ports and landing sites since those locations are where consumers can contribute to sustainable fisheries by making the right choices on the fish that they purchase. A transition to sustainability works hand in hand with education and awareness since it is important to have a common understanding of why decisions are taken and regulations enforced. Though our education and awareness activities will continue, let’s use Fisheries Week and International Fisheries Day on November 21 to focus on how we can all contribute to sustainable fishing and food and nutrition security for the Seychellois population.”
Dr Jan Robinson
Seychelles Fishing Authority