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EU-Seychelles: First Joint Committee Meeting of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (videoconference)

Seychelles, 04/03/2021 - 06:12, UNIQUE ID: 210304_16
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Honourable  Jean-Francois Ferrari, Designated Minister, Minister for Fisheries and Blue Economy of Seychelles,

Mr. Roy Clarisse, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Fisheries and Blue Economy,

Mr. Nichol Elizabeth, Chief Executive Officer of the Seychelles Fishing Authority

Mr. Jean-Paul d'Offray, Director for regional Integration, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

Dear colleagues of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Fisheries, and officers of the SFA,

All protocol observed for the Seychelles side,

 

I would as well, welcome virtually the members of the EU side attending this JCM, and particularly our Member States i.e. :

  • The representatives of the EU Member State ensuring the presidency of the EU,  i.e. Portugal, Mr. Joao Nunes and Mrs. Isabel Texeira, of the Ministry of the Sea,
  • The representative of France, Mrs. Anais Melard,
  • The Spanish Delegates led by Mr.Antonio Lizcano,
  • The representatives of Italy

And of course, the DG MARE's team in charge of the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement, Mr. Emmanuel  Berck, Mrs. Maria Ferrara and Nathalie Florin.

I would express my high appreciation for opening together with Minister Ferrari this very first Joint Committee Meeting. And I want to point out that the high level of representation of each Delegation present today illustrates the importance of OUR Fisheries agreement.

I used the world "OUR Agreement" because I think the whole process of negotiation for this new SFPA held in 2019 showed that we share a clear and common vision; this vision is supported by provisions and technical annexes that serve similar purposes notably sustainable fisheries, preservation of the tuna stocks, Monitoring Control and Surveillance measures, and ultimately, our mutual economic interests. It is worth saying that the tunas caught in the Seychelles waters are well valued and well appreciated in Europe; the previous SFPAs over the past years and even decades  contributed to build strong economic ties in the fisheries sector. As you know Hon Minister, your country remains amongst the first world suppliers of canned tuna to the European market. This is the reason why the EU-Seychelles SFPA is of strategic high importance for us. But this is not the only reason.

The new EU-Seychelles Fisheries Partnership Agreement also contains very innovative provisions.  I am convinced that those should serve as a model and be duplicated in other SFPAs in other regions of the world.

I will not list all of them, some being very technical, but I would say that the new six years Protocol comprises a number of provisions that are reflecting the dynamism of our cooperation on sustainable fisheries. Let me just mention five of them:

  1. The reinforcement of the control measures on the EU fleet activities through joint EU-SEY inspections and the Electronic Reporting System;
  2. The clear provisions on the use and management of fish aggregating devices (FADs) and on the support vessels ;
  3. A closer cooperation and dialogue between the parties also on regional issues;
  4. The role of the observers at sea that remains as well a key monitoring instrument.
  5. The EU ship-owner's fishing authorisations which now include for the first time, a specific contribution to a dedicated Fund managed by  Seychelles  to improve environmental management of the marine ecosystem.
  6. Last but not least, the Protocol clearly aims at contributing to the social and economic development of Seychelles by also providing financial supports for building the necessary infrastructure, dedicated to local fishing activities.

All the above provisions take into account the creation of Marine Spatial Planning areas in the Seychelles waters, with dedicated no-fishing areas as well as the Seychelles legislation and future regulations.

However, and the Minister is well aware of the challenge, we cannot promote sustainable fisheries without addressing the tuna stock conservation issues at regional level and this is reflected in the principles of our SFPA.  The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), is our common platform to voice our mutual concerns. As you know, the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission is facing unprecedented challenges in its capacity to monitor efficiently all the resolutions adopted by the coastal countries on the tuna stocks. The effects on this situation are the threats posed by the major European retailers on banning Yellowfin Tuna originated from the Indian Ocean.  I was informed and pleased that you had already bilateral discussions with the DG MARE team in charge of the IOTC negotiations. 

With regard to the sectoral support, I would just like to say a few words on the visibility and communication actions. As we all know, communication is now an essential component of all our actions of our bilateral cooperation. For sake of accountability, the citizens of Seychelles have to be informed about the activities funded under the Fisheries Partnership Agreement; the same applies for the EU citizens (tax payers) who are in demand for learning from our actions in third countries and their impact. Moreover, and with the aim to counteract the misinformation or disinformation campaigns that can arise in Seychelles or in Europe, we need to build together a strong communication and visibility plan for which some key essential joint events should be forecasted. May I recall the celebration of the UN's World Ocean Day last 8 June 2020 that has been a great public success both in Seychelles and Mauritius and even ‘broad.

In this regard, I suggest that we can examine in the short term, the joint preparation of some forthcoming events: I would first make reference to the World Tuna Day (next 5 May) during which we could ask some Chefs from Seychelles and Mauritius to share good tuna recipes inspired from the Creole cuisine. Regarding the celebration of the fight against IUU fishing (next 5 June), we could organise a video-conference with some key experts invited to explain what are the issues at stake for fighting IUU fishing? The World Ocean Day (8 June) could as well be celebrated with the testimonies of some selected key speakers dedicated to the preservation of the oceans.

Hon.Minister, should you be agreeable to it, I stand ready to celebrate with you those proposed events online or as I would much prefer in Seychelles if the borders are reopened and flights scheduled!

We can explore with my team and the support of the DG MARE in Brussels as appropriate, how we could assist your Department with the preparation of the public events celebrating the Oceans, the protection of marine ecosystems, the sustainable fisheries, etc., celebrating the island nations of the Indian Ocean.

 

Hon. Minister, Esteemed delegates, dear Member States,

Our mutual public opinion expects from the Fisheries Protocol, a mutual recognition of our common values (respect, transparency, rules of the law, sustainability, protection of biodiversity, decisions guided by science) leading to a win-win agreement for both parties.  

I look forward to the outcome of these two days of technical discussions and to conclude tomorrow on the main achievements of the first year of the new SFPA and Protocol’s application, including on Sectoral support.  

I am confident that the first Joint Committee meeting will be very fruitful and that all points of the agenda will be addressed successfully and with the cooperative approach at the core of our partnership, where  we are sharing the same principles and the same goals.

I wish you all fruitful deliberations during those two days.

Thank you for your attention.

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