African fishermen, mostly from Senegal and Ivory Coast who work on dozens of European Union vessels that operate in West Africa and the Indian Ocean, took part in a strike that lasted from June 5-8, alleging wage violations.
Around 40 vessels flying the European Union (EU) flag are allowed to fish in Seychelles waters under the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership agreement and protocol between the island nation and the EU.
SNA spoke to the Minister for Fisheries and Blue Economy, Jean-Francois Ferrari, to discuss whether the situation has any impact on Seychelles.
SNA: Is the latest strike having an impact on Seychelles?
J-F.F: No. What happened is that fishing stopped in the Seychelles waters for two to three weeks. However, this does not mean that we will have less fish at the end of the year because the amount of tuna fished in the Seychelles waters is already determined by the yellowfin quota.
Whether this is fished in six months or in two or maybe even a year you are limited by the quota. Now the vessels stopped for two to three weeks, they are now back at sea fishing.
The reports that I am receiving are that at the moment the fishing is not too good, due to the southeast monsoon – but it will get better. It is a normal pattern in the year.
SNA: What is the current situation following the strike?
J-F.F: The seafarers on tuna vessels across the world’s unions are still negotiating. There is a moratorium on no striking, but they give themselves six months to come to an agreement between themselves – the boat owners, and the representatives of the fishers. This applies to seamen in the Indian Ocean, in West Africa and in the Pacific.
Minister for Fisheries and Blue Economy, Jean-Francois Ferrari. (Blue Economy Department) Photo License: CC-BY
SNA: Is Seychelles making efforts to train its own seafarers so that it may also benefit from the tuna fishing in its waters?
J-F.F: The EU is under the obligation to have a Seychellois seafarer on board the vessel, if they do not have one to take the post, the boat owners pay us because they do not have a Seychellois on board. The agreement with the EU is that they will take sailors, it’s just that we do not have enough sailors.
SNA: Many Seychellois students are training at the Seychelles Maritime Academy, how is it that we do not have the required personnel?
J-F.F: While we are working on it, it is really a mindset change that is required so that we may have more people join this industry. While it is hard and dangerous work, it really is a lucrative area to work in.
Source: Seychelles News Agency