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Piracy Still Effects Seychelles Fish Supplies

According to the Seychelles Minister for Investment, Natural Resources and Industry, Peter Sinon, the supply of fish to his country was at its zenith at an all time low.

He spoke at the Ephelia Resort workshop, focusing on the “Impact of piracy on fisheries in the Indian Ocean” was organized by the European Bureau for Conservation and Development, in collaboration with the South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Project and the Seychelles Government, through the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA).

Peter Sinon highlighted the dilemma by telling the story of “once upon a time, a fisherman would not even let his spouse know the exact location of his treasured fishing grounds, while today it is mandatory to have a ‘Vessel Monitoring System’ on board and fishermen are now going out fishing in pre-established locations considered safe and under surveillance. In my 45 plus years as a citizen of this country, I have never witnessed the price of a red snapper pitch itself so high on the market.”

Mr. Sinon went on to state that vessels have left the Indian Ocean to fish in other, safer oceans, and many of our Asia partners no longer take licenses to fish in our EEZ, further eroding income from the abundant tuna in our waters.

He said at its zenith, when the supply of landed fish came to an all time low, the related fish processing industries that export fish from our waters , were reassessing their company strategies related to the viability of continuing operations in Port Victoria.

Mr. Sinon said the most extreme impact was the hijacking of our local vessels and capture of sailors and fishermen. Today, two of our fishermen, Marc Songoire and Rolly Tambara are still being held hostage in Somalia.

Minister Sinon went on to say that the purse seiners that have persevered have also had to adapt to the threatening situation. They are now fishing with armed security personnel to avoid capture. “The results have been encouraging and are bearing fruits”, he said.

He said he was reliably informed that the landed figures of tuna for the first few weeks of 2012 are announcing the resurgence of this activity and it is hoped that this upward trend stand the test of time. “It certainly is going in line with the commendable work being done on the diplomatic, security, regional and judicial fronts and any other front that I might have missed. We are together winning this fight.”

Mr. Sinon also stressed that Seychelles will not drop its guard against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, as there are clearly those who will seek to gain advantage from the current situation and they should not be allowed the slack to do so.

“On the contrary, we should further strengthen the monitoring in this area and consider more severe penalties in proven cases for more effective deterrence.” The Secretary General of the Indian Ocean Commission (COI), Mr. Callixte D’Offay told participants that while there has been increased international effort in dealing with piracy, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) says the situation has deteriorated. “This means that the fisheries sector will continue to be adversely affected and hence the need for this workshop to closely look at how we should strategize in the interest of the region.”

Mr. D’Offay said “as far as the COI is concerned, we will continue to look for partners from every corner of the Indian Ocean as well as engaging with the wider African continent and the international community to meet the challenge.”