Seychelles officially launches first ever FiTI report on marine fisheries policy |17 April 2021
Major step towards fisheries transparency
By Laura Pillay
The department of the Blue Economy in collaboration with the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI) officially launched its First FiTI Report on marine fisheries policy, during a ceremony held at Eden Bleu, yesterday.
The report represents a very important milestone for Seychelles, a significant step in the quest to become fully compliant to the FiTI standards, aimed at enhancing the quality and credibility of public information for marine fisheries, towards sustainable management of fisheries.
The launch ceremony was graced by the presence of President Wavel Ramkalawan, Designated Minister Jean-François Ferrari, who is also the Minister for Fisheries & the Blue Economy, members of the diplomatic corps, among other guests.
During the launch, the country’s first assessment results on the state of transparency fisheries in the Seychelles was presented by FiTI National Lead from the department of the Blue Economy, Philip Michaud; general manager of Seaward Ltd Selwyn Edmond and vice-chairman of Transparency Initiatives Seychelles Cyril Bonnelame.
Among the notable transparency observations highlighted within the publicly available document are that large amounts of data on Seychelles’ fisheries sector are collated by national authorities such as the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA), although it is not necessarily published online. The FiTI report addresses this, making previously unpublished information available online, including information pertaining to fishing agreements including one with Mauritius, the status of fish stocks, as well as information relating to sea cucumber fishery and the license holders. In addition, the report findings propose the procedures for beneficial ownership transparency in the fisheries sector is in progress.
On the downside, it was found that crucial information is still not available to the public, such as private fishing access agreements, registry for large-scale fishing vessels and information on fisheries subsidies to the large-scale fishing sector. Additionally, published catch information from large-scale and small-scale fisheries, is seen as incomplete.
“A country needs to know exactly how much resources it has, what it gains from the resources, how people are exploiting the resources, and the benefits it presents. Marine resources belong to all Seychellois, to everyone, and it is therefore important that we are accountable, and that we can get a system where we have participation from different groups, as fisheries belong not only to fishermen, but also those who consume, the civilian, the processing industry. The more visible the information is, and then different groups can say if the information is correct, the information is lacking. I think this will help towards good governance, and to bring about sustainability of the resources,” Mr Michaud said.
“More and more, in different markets, different countries, consumers are interested to know how the industry developed, how the fish was caught. Gradually, it has given us a little advantage over others, as consumers will see that the resource is not being overexploited,” Mr Michaud noted.
The report also highlights opportunities for improvement, including 34 recommendations on how to further strengthen the country’s leadership in fisheries transparency, determined by the Seychelles FiTI National Multi-Stakeholder Group.
“A lot of the information is non-existent, a lot of it is maybe not sufficient. Let’s consider stock assessments, I think it is important that this is conducted at least every two years so we know the status of our stocks, if the resources are being underexploited, if there are possibilities of further exploiting them.”
“With regard to the managements of materials, waste and pollutants, the report recommends that management plans are published in a transparent and clear manner, so even the media can access them, to see what efforts are being channelled into collections, disposal. As the report highlights, there are efforts, but they are not accessible in the public domain. With the recommendations, the authorities can make this information available, so it is clearer for all,” said Mr Edmond of Seaward Ltd.
Seaward Ltd has been instrumental in the report-drafting process, representing different stakeholders from the industry, namely, long-liners and purse-seiners who are committed to bringing about more transparency in the industry.
Having published the first ever report towards the initiative will serve to be extremely beneficial towards the local industry, as the world becomes more environmentally-conscious, giving the country a competitive advantage over competitors, and possibly aiding towards generating more from the industry and fisheries related exports and activities.
Seychelles’ next assessment, due towards the end of 2021, will review the implementation progress of these recommendations.