The new SFPA and its Protocol apply as of 24 February 2020, and represent a key milestone of the long-standing bilateral cooperation in fisheries between the EU and Seychelles, and of their joint commitment to promote a sustainable and transparent use of marine resources both in the Seychelles waters and in the Indian Ocean region. At their first Joint Committee meeting under the new Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPA), the Parties acknowledged how their dialogue in such privileged partnership could be strengthened as to enhance cooperation on regional issues and in particular in the framework of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC).
Designated Minister, Minister for Fisheries, Mr. Jean-François Ferrari stated that:
- "Seychelles considers itself to be the best partner that the EU can have and it is the wish of the new government in Victoria to solidify this relationship. I am calling for closer cooperation, open dialogue and common purpose going forward.”
In its key note address, the EU Ambassador to the Republic of Seychelles, H.E. Mr Vincent Degert, noted that:
-“The SFPA with Seychelles is “our” agreement, of both the EU and Seychelles, as it has at its core our common values and principles (such as respect, transparency, rules of the law, decisions guided by science) as well as our shared vision towards sustainable fisheries beyond Seychelles waters”.
The socio-economic development of Seychelles and of its fisheries sector is at the core of the activities supported by the EU under the sectoral support program of the SFPA. Each year for the entire duration of the Protocol, a financial contribution of €2 800 000 by the EU is specifically earmarked to promote the sustainable management of fisheries in Seychelles, as well as to support the development of small-scale fisheries. During this meeting, the Parties reviewed the state of implementation of the actions foreseen for the first year of the program, ranging from the construction of infrastructures dedicated to local fishermen (e.g. markets, gears stores in La Retraite and budget for other district infrastructure projects for Mahe and Praslin fishing communities), to training activities, and their impact, and discussed priorities for the future actions.
The efficient availability of funds under the sectoral support for a COVID-19 Response Program and the positive impact of the related actions on the local fisheries sector were recognised as an essential instrument to mitigate the COVID crisis notably through the food security programme implemented in 2020.
The Parties also reviewed the fishing activities, the good level of utilisation of the fishing opportunities and the modalities to reinforce communication channels and monitoring mechanism on the fishing activities, including through the further development and implementation of the Electronic Reporting System – ERS. The implementation of the provisions on embarkation of Seychelles seamen on board fishing vessels was also reviewed, and the Parties discussed modalities to enhance the application of such provisions.
Both Parties agreed to work towards finalisation of the outstanding issue with regards to payment compensation of Seychellois seamen for past embarkations on vessels under the SFPA’s of the previous Protocols. The Seychelles delegation certified that it had delivered all records and information on this outstanding issue to the European Union, and the EU has committed to reviewing the information received from the Seychelles delegation and to provide a feedback before end of next month.
The two Parties concluded on the impacts of the flagship activities covered by the Protocol such as the trade facility provided by the SFPA to export the tuna products to Europe, the scientific and compliance observers' programme, and the sectoral support providing additional means for boosting the local fishing sector including the local processors. All in one, these activities have generated employment, they enhanced local labour skills, they developed new economic opportunities, and at final stage, they contributed to embark Seychelles towards a seafood pole of excellence within the region.
Minister J-F Ferrari and Ambassador V. Degert, concluded with a review of the complementary activities currently in development; these relate notably to the extension of the commercial quay of the Victoria port and to the extension of the EU's Naval Force (EUNAVFOR) mandate to ensure security by fighting piracy and other trafficking, including by monitoring illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activities. Ambassador Degert also pledged for organising more joint events celebrating our partnership in the tuna fisheries sector; he made a wish for a visit very soon to Seychelles and he committed to request for a meeting with the Minister at this occasion.
The EU-SEY SFPA is based on the principles of the Common Fisheries Policy such as transparency, governance of fishing activities, non-discrimination, respect of the scientific advice and scientific cooperation on data collection and analysis. It also complies with Seychelles’ legislation and the management measures taken in the context of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), of which both Parties are members.
The EU-SEY Protocol allows the EU fleet (40 tuna purse-seiners and 8 long-liners) to fish in Seychelles waters for a duration of 6 years while continuing to support the sustainable development of the fisheries sector in the Seychelles. It foresees an EU annual financial contribution of €5 300 000, based on a reference tonnage of 50 000 tonnes. A significant part of this contribution, €2 800 000 per year, is specifically earmarked to promote the sustainable management of fisheries in Seychelles, as well as to support the development of small-scale fisheries. For the whole duration of the protocol, the total estimated value, including the EU ship-owners contribution, amounts to €58 200 000, equivalent to €9 700 000 per year.