Monday, February 9, 2009

Seychelles gets better deal from EC for fisheries

(Article taken from Seychelles Nation newspaper of 9 February 2009)

President James Michel’s push for Seychelles to get what we deserve from our fisheries bore fruit over the weekend.

The European Commission (EC) will now pay 10.7 million euros in licences and for excess catch for the operations of 40 European vessels which fish in our waters over the next two years.

President Michel has been fighting for a revision of the rates paid by vessels fishing in our waters, and has strongly made our case in such forums as last year’s French Africa Summit in Cannes, France, the Food and Agricultural Organisation meeting in Rome and the Tokyo International Conference for African Development summit.

On September 25 last year, President Michel said at the United Nations General Assembly:“We offer facilities to foreign investors to exploit our natural resources which are traded for high profits on the international market while we receive a pittance as licence fees.

“For instance, of our total value of tuna – our ‘blue gold’ – caught and transhipped in our waters by foreign vessels every year, Seychelles receives only 7% in revenue, comprising licences and transhipment fees. This to my mind is unacceptable. I ask you; is it unreasonable to fight for a better share of the proceeds.”

Fishing licences had been suspended pending conclusion of the talks which were held here last week.The vessels have now resumed fishing, said Veronique Herminie, the principal secretary (PS) for Natural Resources and Transport.
“It was clear throughout the negotiations that the EC appreciated and understood Seychelles’ expectations from its resources and it is through the partnership we have with the EC that we occasionally meet to address issues arising from the protocols of various agreements we have with them,” she said on Saturday.

“Over the past months, Seychelles and the EC have been relooking at licences paid by the 41 EC vessels and possibilities of upgrading the catches from our waters declared by these vessels for the years 2006 and 2007,” she said.

Mrs Herminie said given the importance of the negotiations both parties agreed to delay issuance of licences for the Year 2009 until February 6.

"We have now agreed on the upgrades and Seychelles will receive an additional 1.7 million euros for the two years. The total receipts from the EC and these vessels in the coming weeks shall be 10.7 million euros in licence fees and excess catches,” she said.
Mrs Herminie, who is also the chairperson of the Seychelles Fishing Authority, said the two sides also decided on a road map for the future which shall end in a new framework agreement for the Year 2011.
“The EC and Seychelles shall be meeting in the coming months for analysis and review of certain provisions included in the protocols of the agreements as well as agree on a method of assessment of catch returns submitted by the vessels.”

The PS thanked EC’s director general for international affairs and markets Pierre Amilhat and his team who were here for the successful negotiations.

“I’m sure future talks will be even more fruitful for both parties,” she said.Mr Amilhat said he was happy with the results of the talks and that the European vessels could resume fishing.

He said current fishing agreements with Seychelles will end on January 11, 2011 and talks on their renewal have started, noting such agreements with Mauritius expired before they were renegotiated so at the moment EC vessels are not fishing in Mauritius waters.

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