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Claiming back our leadership in the Tuna Fishing Industry

Jean-François Ferrari, on the right, and Virginijus Sinkevičius

The Designated Minister and Minister for Fisheries and the Blue Economy, Mr Jean-Francois Ferrari, has returned to Seychelles following a series of meetings last week with European Union (EU) representatives in Brussels, Belgium. Minister Ferrari was accompanied by the Principal Secretary for Fisheries, Mr Roy Clarisse and the EU Ambassador to Seychelles and Mauritius, HE Vincent Degert.

This is the first opportunity since the beginning of the Covid 19 pandemic that the Seychelles fisheries officials has been able to conduct physical meetings with EU representatives. It is to be noted that the Sustainable Partnership Fisheries Agreement (SFPA) between Seychelles and the EU is the most important of this type of agreement between the EU and any other partner country, as far as tuna fishing is concerned.

The Seychelles delegation met first with the EU representatives at the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) to discuss the issues of resource management, fishing rights and quota allocation. The EU team was led by Marco Valetta, Head of the EU delegation at the IOTC. In view of the continued pressure on the Yellow Fin tuna stocks, it was an opportunity for Seychelles to state its strong position with regards to the sustainable use of this important resource.

The EU fishing vessels represent the largest group of purse seiners in the Indian Ocean and are very active in Seychelles waters. In view of the upcoming IOTC annual meeting in June this year, it is important that Seychelles and the EU find as much common ground as possible to be able to conduct fruitful deliberations.

Minister Ferrari and PS Clarisse thereafter held a series of meetings with officials of the Directorate General for Fisheries, DG MARE, including the desk officers for Seychelles and the Director General, Charlina Vitcheva.

Minister Ferrari thanked the EU for its most recent cooperation in settling the long-standing claims of Seychellois seamen and pressed the country’s demands for the embarkation of as many seamen and observers as available on EU vessels. The Minister also informed the Director General of a number of issues which the Seychelles would endeavours to raise and discuss at the SFPA’s mid-term review process programmed for 2023, as per the terms of the fishing agreement and its accompanying protocol.

The Seychelles delegation was invited to meet with EU Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginius Sinkevicius. Minister Ferrari shared the vision of the Seychelles government to take back the leadership role that our country has played in the regional tuna industry for years, but which has lately not been supported with decisive action.

“Seychelles must lead the way in tuna fishing management and preservation of the resource”, Minister Ferrari said.

“We will be engaging fishing nations of the South-West Indian Ocean to come together and align their positions in the promotion of long-term sustainable fisheries,” he pledged, asking that the European Union supports all efforts in environmental protection, sustainable fishing and the fight against illegal, unregulated and unreported (IUU) fishing in the region.