Seychelles opening aquaculture investment space to foreign investors
The Seychelles has completed a review of its fisheries policy that could soon enable foreign investors to partner with local seafood entrepreneurs as the government focuses on achieving full, sustainable exploitation of its marine fisheries.
According to the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) Principal Aquaculture Officer Aubrey Lesperance, the island-nation's government “has relaxed the regulation with regards to joint ventures when a partnership is established with foreigners.”
Lesperance told Seychellois media that allowing joint ventures with foreign investors, albeit with a minority stake, is a realization that Seychelles cannot sustain restrictions on local operators keen on reaching out to potential aquaculture partners in the island nation where “aquaculture is not something that many people know about at the moment.”
Currently, the Seychelles has by law limited access to certain zones – the coastal area from zero to two kilometers offshore – to fishing by citizens only.
“We then realized that if we limit this, it will prevent them from getting the capacity that will help them launch their business,” Lesperance said.
The reviewed local/foreign joint venture policy limits foreign stake in such partnership to 49 percent, leaving the majority shareholding to Seychelles citizens.
"Other zones further out at sea will require more investments and infrastructures and we envision that foreign companies will venture into them better,” Lesperance said.
Although Seychelles has previously committed to encouraging joint ventures between local and foreign seafood entrepreneurs with a focus on developing the country’s tuna harvesting capacity, the government has placed barriers to access the national fisheries to non-citizens.
In 2018, the Seychelles government launched a process to review and update several policies and legislation that both directly and indirectly impact the fisheries sector as the country eyed creating a conducive environment for the development of its seafood industry.
In the second quarter of 2019, the Seychellois government approved the preparation of a final draft of the regulations relating to aquaculture. When fully operational, the new regulations will pave the way for the establishment of an aquaculture authority, its regulatory committee, and other provisions governing the implementation of Seychelles national aquaculture policy.
With the recent Cabinet approval of the aquaculture investment regulation, Lesperance said the document is now with the country’s attorney general for fine tuning, and subsequent submission to the fisheries minister for signing and gazettement.