Seychelles’ government adopts harvest policy for fisheries for more sustainable future of stocks

A harvest policy will be included in all future fisheries management plans in Seychelles, said a top government official on Thursday.

The announcement followed the Cabinet of Minister’s approval of the Harvest Strategy Policy and the management standards for Seychelles’ fisheries on Wednesday.

The policy expects to underpin objectives to ensure that individual fisheries in Seychelles are able to be best managed according to their particular biological characteristics and the associated socio-economic objectives.

The principal secretary for fisheries, Roy Clarisse, said: “What this means is that in all the fisheries management plans in Seychelles, the harvest policy component will be included.”

He said that in addition, it will provide a framework that guides the development and implementation of harvest strategies for all fisheries in the Seychelles.

“A harvest strategy indicates the limit to fish, so that the stock remains sustainable by establishing limits so that when they are in dangerous levels, the rules start kicking in so that we may begin to control the efforts being made,” explained Clarisse.

He added that this may be through either the number of boats or days or even through seasons when fishing is allowed.

“Before stocks are depleted to a certain level we will have rules in place. Of course, we have consulted all the stakeholders as this is a participatory programme to ensure that we agree on where our fish stocks are and decide on what measures we should have in place while we are fishing,” added the principal secretary.

Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, has recently intensified its efforts to protect its fish stock through its fisheries management plan.

Clarisse said that “We are also working on the revision of the Fisheries Act, which is in its final stages, and that should provide a legal framework. The fisheries laws also have the legal component dealing with the management aspect, which also includes the harvest strategy.”

The new addition to the regulations also provides standards to enable Seychelles to meet best practices for implementing harvest strategies in fishery management planning.

With this new measure, the authorities can now take action depending on whether the fish stocks increase or decrease.

Clarisse said that it is important that we have the participation of all local partners and that “the most important aspect is the information that they provide so that the authorities can have a reliable stock assessment.”

“This we can all agree on the amount of stock, and at what point we will stop fishing so that it remains sustainable and can continue reproducing,” explained Clarisse.

“The positive side is that we assess the situation with the information provided by fishers if there is a possibility to fish more,” he added.

“When fishers go out to fish, the aim is for optimal fishing that is not only economically viable, but also sustainable.”

The measure also allows for room to increase or decrease fishing with the agreement of the fishers, so that “when the agreed upon parameters are reached, the authorities and fisheries do not have to re-think of what decisions they will have to take”.

The harvest strategy is the information the authorities collect on the different fisheries types.

“This is a measure that will allow for control for the various fishing happening in the Seychelles waters,” said Clarisse.’

To properly implement the new measure, SFA will also need to have more manpower – which it has also informed the Cabinet of Ministers that it needs to build up its capacity.

Clarisse explained that “it becomes the work of the board of SFA, who now has the responsibility to ensure that SFA has the capacity in terms of human and technical capacity to implement it.”

He concluded by saying that this is a gradual process and will be implemented in terms of priority areas first, such as beginning with the spanner crabs, lobsters and sea cucumber fishing.

Fisheries is the second top contributor to the Seychelles’ economy.

Source: Seychelles News Agency