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(Seychelles Nation) The Republic of Seychelles’ government and UK-based blockchain specialists Chainvine have entered into a strategic partnership to develop a platform aimed at improving efficiencies when exporting fish, the country’s largest export product.

(Seychelles Nation): With the drastic reduction in demand for Red Snapper on the local market as a result of the downturn of the tourism industry, the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture has revised the decision to ban the commercial exportation of the well-sought-after fish, to the advantage of artisanal fishermen.

The decision to ban the commercial exportation of Red Snapper was announced by President Danny Faure in February and was set to take effect as of April 15, with the aim of making Red Snapper more available to the local market and at a more affordable price to the average citizen.

However, since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in Seychelles in March and the imposition of health and safety measures, activities such as restaurants and hotels through which most of the demand is generated is very minimal, Minister Charles Bastienne said during a press conference yesterday.

It is for that reason that the ministry has revised the decision, so as to offset reduced demand on the local market, and provide avenues for artisanal fishermen and processors to continue with their operations and generate income, Minister Bastienne added.

“When we launched the emergency plan, we conducted numerous monitoring which indicates that sale at the community level has not really been affected. By opening up the channel for export, we are not expecting that export will be to the level at which it was before, due to complications in other countries and cargo and shipping severely disrupted by the pandemic. But nonetheless, it remains an opportunity, and will provide an additional market, to the relief of our fishermen and allow them to continue their activities,” Minister Bastienne stated.

According to statistics recorded by the ministry, an average of 50 tonnes of Red Snapper is exported annually, from a total average catch of around 370 to 380 tonnes per year. Primary markets include Reunion, Mauritius, United States of America (USA), and some European countries.

In a bid to ensure sustainability and protection of stock, new control measures and regulations are to be introduced, including a provision to release Red Snappers measuring less than 32cm. Furthermore, persons wishing to export in excess of 20kg of Red Snapper, as is the case for outbound travellers, must do so through commercial processors, for a formal process including the issuance of catch certificates, and testing whether the consignment meets sanitary standards, among others. Through this controlled system, the ministry and concerned agencies will also benefit from more accurate and reliable data with regard to how much fish is making its way out of the country. Cabinet approved the policy which applies not only to Red Snapper, but also other species of fish most-exploited, around a month ago.

The decision to not implement the ban is welcomed by artisanal fishermen and processors, Minister Bastienne added. As the chairperson of the High-Level Committee for Food Security, he met with stakeholders concerned with the exportation of demersal fish, and representatives of the Fishing and Boat Owners Association (FBOA) this week, whereby they expressed that the implementation of the ban would have adverse implications for artisanal fishermen and local processors, who lack the capacity to hoard large stocks, and the excess catch, especially during the northwest trade winds when the seas are much calmer and better suited to deep-sea fishing.

“Even if we are pronouncing ourselves on the decision, we had never really enforced the ban as regulations were yet to be drawn up and enforced. Regulations were in the pipeline but we wanted to observe the situation first and I think it is the appropriate decision for the moment,” Minister Bastienne concluded.

By Laura Pillay

A study of how many dolphins are caught in tuna fishing nets estimates the mammals may now be at just 13 percent of their numbers prior to 1980. James Cook University’s Dr. Putu Mustika was part of an international group that looked at the bycatch from tuna gillnets (including driftnets) in the Indian Ocean. The group was led by Dr. Charles Anderson of the Manta Marine organization in the Maldives.

A Sri Lankan registered fishing boat has been intercepted by the Seychelles Coast Guard (SCG) on suspicion of fishing illegally in the Seychelles Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

According to the Today in Seychelles of 28 February 2020, the Fishermen and Boat Owners Association (FBOA) held a meeting on 27 February following the President's State of the Nation Address (SONA 2020) in which he declared a ban on the commercial exportation of the imperial red snapper (bourzwa).

The Mahe Plateau Trap and Fishery Co-Management Plan has been endorsed by the Minister of Fisheries and has been gazette. This is the first time the plan such a plan has been put in place, Today in Seychelles reports in article dated February 14th 2020. The article says that an implementation committee is to be set up.

(Seychelles News Agency) - A Seychellois fisheries expert has expressed concerns over what he called the European Union's overfishing of yellowfin tuna in the Indian Ocean. The EU ambassador to Seychelles, meanwhile, says that the union is still investigating the official figures of 2018's Yellowfin catch obtained from its flagged vessels, with any amount overfished to be to reflected in future paybacks.

Fish aggregating devices are objects placed on the ocean surface to attract tuna to make it easier for fishermen to fish. The Fish Guard Initiative interviewed Keith André to find out how it's harming the traditional Seychelles fishing industry.

(Seychelles News Agency) - An area around the main harbour of Seychelles’ Praslin island, the nation's second-most populated island, has been demarcated as a voluntary fisheries closure zone in a bid to help maintain the fish stock.

The project, an initiative of the Praslin Fishing Association, aims to conserve part of the Baie St Anne by limiting fishing activities from taking place in that area for a period of time. The government has welcomed the voluntary project.

Three yellow buoys labelled ‘Fisheries Closure’ are indicators of the closure zones, which went into operation on November 1. All vessels are requested to keep a safe distance and to navigate with extreme precaution when approaching the demarcated areas.

The initiative aims to help maintain the fish stock in that area and give ample time for the stock to grow. The closure will remain in force until April 30, 2020.

"We as fishermen have noticed that the size of fish is decreasing and so is the amount. We have taken examples of similar projects that have been carried out in other places and have had interesting results,” said Darrel Green, the chairperson of the Praslin Fishers Association.

He said that they were inspired by a similar project carried out in Rodrigues, an autonomous island of Mauritius, where a fisheries closure has been placed on octopus.

Fishermen on Rodrigues noticed that over time, there was a significant reduction in their catch because of unsustainable fishing practices and the effect of climate change on the reefs. The community started a voluntary closure of the octopus’ fishery for two months of the year. As a result, there has been an increase in the catch during the past four years.

Green said that the voluntary closure being carried out on Praslin “is not a project through which you will see the result in six months.”

He added that the association wants the closure to be something annual.

The project is mainly targeting artisanal fishermen who make a living off species living on the reef. During the months the bay will be closed, these fishermen will have to fish elsewhere.

“This is the initiative of a group of people and I think that fishermen in the Baie St Anne area need to realise that this is an idea coming from the community and everyone needs to accept and respect the initiative,” said Green.

Another aspect of the project is to serve as an educational model for the fishermen community on Praslin.

“We don’t need the government to always come and tell us to protect our own resources. As fisherman we need to put our heads together to realise this project and conserve what we have for the future generation,” said Green.

Fisheries is the second top contributor to the Seychelles economy.

The Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture has welcomed the project. The principal secretary of the fisheries department, Jude Talma, said in a previous interview that this is a good initiative.

“For many years now, we have been talking about sustainable fishing and it is finally getting through to the fishermen. This sector really depends on them and the action they take. I would like to congratulate them for taking this step,” said Talma.

Over the years, Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has put a lot of emphasis on sustainable fishing. One of the initiatives is a marine spatial planning exercise to expand protected areas and a fisheries management plan for the Mahe Plateau to progressively move from an open-access fishery to a more controlled fishery.

This week, Seychelles' daily newspaper "Today in Seychelles" spoke to Dr. Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles' Chief Executive for its Big Interview. Dr. Shah is a well-known Civil Society leader and change-maker who has 35 years experience working nationally and internationally in various fields including sustainable development, biodiversity conservation, coastal zone management, fisheries, ecotourism, climate change, environmental education, and insect, bird and marine research.

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