2017 marked 33 years of existence of the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) as the executive arm of the government dealing with all fisheries related matters. The authority is guided by government policy to promote sustainable and responsible fisheries development and optimize the benefits for present and future generations.

For 2017, the authority’s life cycle has been has been marked by a number of key events that has significantly impacted on the strategic direction of SFA and provided new foundations for future development.  These events include:

  1. Appointment of a new Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer in   May 2017.
  2. Appointment of a new minister responsible for Fisheries and Agriculture
  3. Recognition by government of the need to give new momentum to the Fishing industry
  4. Implementation of a “quota” system for yellow fin tuna fishing activity by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC)

2017 was a year where after many years of facing serious challenges within the fishing industry, the authority, with the full support of government, initiated the development of a road map including a Strategic Plan for institutional recovery and development.

Despite limited financial and human resource capacities, SFA has been able to showcase a significant number of achievements for the development of the fisheries sector and some of these are highlighted below.

 

Yellow Fin tuna quotas and the IOTC: international success leads to national economic results and better conservation

Under the new management, the Seychelles delegation attending the 21st Session of the IOTC meeting was able to put forward a forceful and well-argued position to convince other members of this regional tuna management forum to allow Seychelles to set its quota for yellow fin tuna catch based on the 2015 figures, upturning the previous decision of the IOTC to use 2014 as the baseline year. This position significantly allowed for the industrial tuna fishing activity to extend until early December 2017 whereas the previous decision would have ended operations of the fleet as early as September.  The IOTC also approved a Seychelles co-sponsored resolution to phase out the number of Fish Aggregating Devices (FADS) and the supply vessels that manage them, thus making the tuna purse seine industry more sustainable.

 Providing infrastructure to support the fishing sector

SFA continued with first phase of infrastructure development of on Ile Du Port (Zone 14) involving construction of the road network and utilities services for the various developers located in the zone and are providing ancillary services to the industrial fishing sector. Works for this first phase are almost completed and the second phase of the project will commence by the second quarter of 2018.

2017 also saw the commencement of the second phase of the Japanese-funded (JICA) Providence fishing port extension project (Zone 6 Providence Industrial Estate) which is expected to be completed in July 2018.

SFA has also started a number of artisanal fisheries development projects at Glacis, Anse Aux Pins and La Digue, while at Bel Ombre construction of the processing plant facility comprising four units is almost completed. 

In the second half of 2017 SFA managed to address most of the issues relating to shortages of ice faced by the fisheries sector earlier in the year, through its ice plants repair and maintenance programme. Plants located at Bel Ombre, Victoria and Praslin were all running at full capacity in the second half of the year, while spare parts for the plants at Providence Fishing Port, Anse Royale and Anse à la Mouche have been purchased and repair of the facilities will be undertaken by early 2018. SFA has developed a comprehensive ice plant cleaning programme for all ice plants, bringing the country to international EU Standards.

The authority also managed to repair and install mooring buoys at the Victoria Fishing Port, as well as replace 9 navigation buoys at different channels around Mahé and Praslin.

 

Fishing today for tomorrow: Managing and planning for fisheries sustainability

In 2017 SFA developed an action plan to improve the sustainability of the sea cucumber fishery. The much awaited and critical management plan for demersal fisheries resources on the Mahé Plateau was finalised. Both plans were submitted and approved by Cabinet.

SFA has initiated the collection of information on all commercial, recreational and sport fishing vessels using a boat frame survey that would allow for updating of the fisheries licensing framework for the artisanal sector.

Research: laying the scientific basis for fisheries management and development

In 2017, the Fisheries Research Section continued to provide vital support to the development of our fisheries industry through a number of studies undertaken. These included the following:

  • Developed a new applied fish research projects to support the new demersal management plan for the Mahé Plateau;
  • Implemented a new data collection protocol for artisanal fishery catch assessment survey and new data capture software;
  • Collected data for over 200 trips under the Observer Programme was transferred into a central database for accessibility by scientists;
  • Upgraded the data management software for the purse seine fishery and developed new software for data processing to improve reliability and timeliness of purse seine datasets;
  • Initiated the collection of information on all commercial, recreational and sport fishing vessels using a boat frame survey;

Monitoring, control and surveillance

For 2017, personnel from the Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) section participated in two national air patrol and three regional sea patrols of the Seychelles EEZ as part of the routine surveillance and monitoring programme to detect illegal fishing activities.

Additionally, coastal sea patrols were conducted around Mahé and the inner islands.

Farming the sea: Development of mariculture in Seychelles

In 2017, SFA continued with the development of the Mariculture Master Plan (MMP) and the Mariculture Policy for Seychelles. The authority also completed an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for aquaculture development in Aquaculture Development Zones and completed market studies on the establishment of export markets for Seychelles aquaculture products.

Construction started in 2017 on the Broodstock Acclimation and Quarantine Facility (BAQF) and is expected to be completed in April 2018.

The Mariculture Section was able to successfully run education and awareness campaigns to ensure adequate information is disseminated to the population, particularly educational institutions and meeting with fisherfolks.

Looking to the future

The authority has a new budget for 2018 approved by government and the National Assembly and this will bring in much-needed new staff and additional resources in critical areas including making the processing plants at Providence all operational. More attention will also be paid to fisheries transparency and to stakeholders. It is expected that the authority will improve its external communication both nationally and internationally. 

04-January-2018