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(Seychelles News Agency) - Artisanal fishers from the Indian Ocean countries have gathered in a training session in Seychelles to identify skills needed in co-management, leadership and communication to tackle common challenges.

The three-day training from September 11-13 is being organised by the Federation of Artisanal Fishers of the Indian Ocean (FPAOI) and the Seychelles Fisheries Authority (SFA) at the Coco D'Or Hotel in the northern Mahe district of Beau Vallon.

The chairman of the Federation, Seychellois Keith Andre, told journalists that the fishermen in the region are facing common challenges such as climate change which needs to be dealt with collectively.

“We have found that in our previous training certain countries have surmounted certain challenges that others are still struggling with and we thought that by sharing experiences and knowledge we could find the solution at the doorstep of our neighbours,” said Andre.

He added that by meeting collectively “we have managed to accomplish many great things such as pushing for a resolution to reduce industrial fishing by big operators which is often not sustainable.”

The training, which is also helping with the establishment of a line and track fishery co-management plan, is sponsored by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU as ongoing support since 2017.

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The three-day training is being organised by the Federation of Artisanal Fishers of the Indian Ocean (FPAOI) and the Seychelles Fisheries Authority. (Joena Meme) Photo License: CC-BY

Apart from climate change, Andre said that the Blue Economy concept is also a threat to fishermen.

“All of a sudden everybody wants a chunk of the ocean and it is being done at the expense of the fishermen. In the name of protection, everybody wants the fishermen out to protect the reef. This is why we are providing training in co-management and leadership as the right management system can allow our profession to co-exist with other activities,” he said.

Fisheries is the second top contributor to the economy of Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean.

The chairperson of the Seychelles’ Roche Caiman Fisherman Association, Florant Tirant, told SNA that the training has taught him that fishing is not only about going out to sea to fish and then sell what you have caught.

“There is more to it than that. I have been taught that with the right management skills I can move from being a small fisherman to one who is now capable of managing my boat, finance as well as leading and mentoring other fishermen through an association,” said Tirant.

The training is also focusing on building the knowledge of fishermen and their negotiating skills and are providing success stories to encourage others to take up this noble profession.

 

Consumers are being urged to boycott yellowfin tuna from the Indian Ocean, including that originating from Seychelles, because of unsustainable fishing by the European Union fleet. A Report by Blue Marine Foundation warns that catches continue to rise despite warnings from the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission's (IOTC) scientists that they would have to be cut by 20% to give the stock a 50-50 chance of recovering by 2024.

Two months ago, a Malagasy association signed a 10-year, $2.7 billion fishing deal with a group of Chinese companies to send 330 fishing vessels to Madagascar. The Agence Malagasy de Développement économique et de Promotion d’entreprises (AMDP) made the deal, which it says was designed to promote the country’s “blue economy.” It did so without consulting the fisheries ministry, the national environment office, civil society groups, or local fishers, who are already struggling with foreign competition for Madagascar’s dwindling marine stocks. Many of these are now calling for the deal to be scrapped. The critics say the AMDP failed to set up an open bidding process and did not conduct an environmental impact assessment or any public consultation. No draft of the deal has been made public.
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