Seychelles should focus more on a sector it has control over — fisheries — to sustain its economy in view of the current dire economic situation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the minister for fisheries said Thursday.
Jean-Francois Ferrari spoke after his familiarisation visit at the Providence artisanal fisheries facilities, which was financed by the government of Japan through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
“My first reaction is that I have discovered a fantastic place. It is an extraordinary facility. I need to thank the government of Japan for assisting with the construction of the facility. Most of the infrastructures are working perfectly fine,” he said.
Ferrari said there were not many complaints from the fishermen he encountered and everyone is excited to push the fisheries industry forward.
Fisheries is the second top contributor, after tourism, to the economy of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
The development of the artisanal fisheries facilities which was done in two phases cost approximately $10 million and includes the expansion of 216 metres of quay, ten mooring buoys, a landing shed and a 10-tonne ice-making facility.
The second phase was needed due to the increasing catch by artisanal and semi-industrial fishermen, who had no access to an ice plant, ice storage warehouse and other fishing facilities.
While foreign-owned vessels have long dominated the industrial longline fishing sector in Seychelles, the local fishermen are mainly involved in artisanal and semi-industrial longline fishing.
A boat owner, Alvina Albert, said that she is happy with the facilities “but the only thing missing now are storage facilities to store our bait that we use for fishing.”
Ferrari said the chief executive of the Seychelles Fishing Authority, Nicole Elisabeth “has told me that they are working to put new storage facilities in place for fishermen to store their fish and bait.”
He said that how to improve the loading area was also discussed.
“We need to ensure that when fish are being offloaded from the fishing vessels, it is being done to a certain standard. We cannot be offloading fish in direct sunlight. It needs to stay fresh at all times. Also there is a congestion problem when two or three boats are berthing at the same time,” added the minister.
“All of this is being sorted out to ensure a perfect business environment for operators and to add value to our fish. The fish that we catch in the Seychelles’ waters are among the best in the world. We need to handle it properly so that it does not lose its quality,” said Ferrari.