EU-Seychelles fishing agreement delayed

The Seychelles is anticipating a temporary interruption of some of its fishing activities, especially those relying on financing under the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPA) with the European Union, which expired on 17 January.

Although negotiations for a new six-year SFPA and protocol were concluded in October 2019, the resulting document is yet to be signed because of delays by the relevant European Union Council working party in adopting some of the recommendations in the agreement. Among those recommendations is a call for reinforcement of the monitoring of E.U. fishing vessels including using of an electronic reporting system.

“The commission proposals to allow the conclusion, signature, and application of the new Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPA) and its implementing protocol have been presented to the relevant council working party,” the E.U. said in an emailed response to SeafoodSource. “Once the council adopts its decision on signature and provisional application, the council and the relevant authorities from the Seychelles are expected to sign the new SFPA and its protocol.”

“The new SFPA and its Protocol will provisionally apply as of the date of signature,” the E.U. said.

Under the SFPA that expired 17 January, the Seychelles government earned an estimated EUR 8.5 million (USD 9.4 million) annually, while the country’s infrastructure and fisheries sector benefited from EUR 2.3 million (USD 2.5million) – the E.U.’s annual financial contribution under the sectoral support for the four years the agreement was in force.

Other recommendations in the yet-to-be-signed SFPA give priority to environmental protection, including specifying how fish aggregating devices (FADs) and support vessels are to be sustainably managed.

Furthermore, within the six years the new SFPA will be in place, the EU will be expected to contribute to a special fund  dedicated to the country’s environmental management and close monitoring of the status of island nation’s marine ecosystems.

In exchange, E.U. member countries will be given permission to deploy 40 tuna purse-seiners and eight long-liners in the exclusive economic zone of the Seychelles waters. They will be limited to 50,000 metric tons of tuna and tuna-like species annually. For that access, the E.U. will pay EUR 5.3 million (USD 5.9 million) to the Seychelles, of which EUR 2.8 million (USD 3.1 million) will be allocated for the promotion of Seychelles fisheries sector.

Since 2002, the E.U.-Seychelles fishing agreement has been considered the most important tuna protocol for both parties, with the delayed agreement valued at EUR 58.2 million (USD 64.5 million) for the six years when the contribution of the E.U. shipowners is taken into account.

Seychelles fisheries sector contributes between 8 percent and 20 percent to the national gross domestic product.

Photo courtesy of ESB Professional/Shutterstock


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