An annual $200,000 fund for the sustainable management of the island nation’s environment and ecosystem is part of the new European Union-Seychelles sustainable fisheries partnership agreement, a top official said.
“For the first time in the history of fisheries agreement that the European Union has with another country, Seychelles has managed to set up a fund dedicated to the management of the environment and monitoring of our ecosystem. Money for the fund will come from EU tuna vessels owners themselves,” Seychelles’ Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture, Charles Bastienne, told the National Assembly on Tuesday.
According to Bastienne, a sum of approximately $200,000 is expected to be raised annually. “This is in addition to their licenses that they have to pay. They will have to make this payment each year alongside their fishing license fee,” he added.
The minister confirmed that currently the sum is available in the trust and the details of how the same will be used will be announced later. Cameras on tuna vessels to monitor how tuna fishing is undertaken and biodegradable FADs which will have codes of the vessels they originate from are amongst new provisions of the agreement which was signed on Feb 24 this year.
The sustainable fisheries partnership agreement is a longstanding cooperation agreement between Seychelles and the EU signed in 1987. It enables EU vessels to fish in the waters under the jurisdiction of Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean.
Forty EU vessels are licensed to fish in Seychelles’ waters but only 27 are active – mostly Spanish and French purse seiners. The last protocol expired in mid-January this year, which means that EU-flagged vessels have been unable to conduct their activities since then.
The debate over the statement and the new agreement was done over two days. Whilst the minister and members of the ruling party supported the statement and the agreement, members of the opposition said that the deal being given to Seychelles by EU through the agreement could have been better with more benefits for the island nation.
The chairperson of the International Affairs Committee in the National Assembly, Jean-Francois Ferrari, spoke strongly on the $200,000 trust fund which he said is nothing compared to the millions in damages to Seychelles’ outer islands caused by FADs left in the sea by the tuna vessels.
“115,000 Euros is not even SCR 4 million per year to protect our coasts. The European Union could have done much better than this. And we should be able to show them how they could have done better. We should be able to put forth the opportunities for us to renegotiate the agreement,” said Ferrari.
After the discussions on the agreement were exhausted, all members on Wednesday voted for its ratification. The agreement is for six years and over that period Seychelles is expected to receive $65 million.