EU AND SEYCHELLES FIRST JOINT COMMITTEE
EU and Seychelles First Joint Comittee Meeting on Sustainable Fisheries
EU and Seychelles held their first Joint Committee meeting under new partnership agreement when they met to review the implementation of the first year of application of the new Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPA) and its six years implementing Protocol, and to discuss mechanisms to strengthen their cooperation and common efforts towards sustainable fisheries.
The EU-Seychelles SFPA is the most important tuna agreement in place for the EU both in financial terms and in terms of fishing opportunities.
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 promoting a sustainable and transparent use of marine resources both in Seychelles waters and in the region.
Indeed, at their first Joint Committee (JC) meeting under the new 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).
The socio-economic development of Seychelles and of its fisheries sector is at the core of the activities supported by the EU under the SFPA. Each year, the EU contributes 2.8 million euros by the to promoting the sustainable management of fisheries in Seychelles, as well as to support the development of small-scale fisheries.
During the 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 fishers (e.g. markets, gears stores) to training activities, and their impact in boosting the local fisheries sector including the local processors, and discussed priorities for the future activities.
The availability of funds for a COVID-19 Response Program and its positive impact on the local fisheries sector were recognised as an essential instrument for Seychelles to mitigate the COVID crisis.
The Parties also reviewed the fishing activities under the Protocol, 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 scientific and observers schemes were also discussed. The implementation of the provisions on embarkation of Seychelles seamen on board fishing vessels was also reviewed.
Altogether, the activities under the SFPA have generated employment in Sychelles, enhanced local labour skills, developed new economic opportunities, and contributed to Seychelles’ development towards becoming a seafood pole of excellence within the region.
The cooperation between the EU and Seychelles on fisheries is longstanding; the first fisheries agreement concluded between the EU and Seychelles dates back from 1987. The current SFPA and implementing Protocol were negotiated at the end of 2019 and they applied provisionally as of 24 February 2020.
The EU-SEY SFPA is based on the principles of the common fisheries policy such as respect of the scientific advice and scientific cooperation on data collection and analysis, transparency, governance of fishing activities and non-discrimination. 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 promoting 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.