|EU-flagged tuna vessels in Port Victoria|
The European Union (EU) and the Seychelles met in Brussels on 15-17 April 2013, for the second round of negotiations to agree on a new Protocol to the Fisheries Partnership Agreement, which expires in January 2014.
The Agreement with the Seychelles is the most significant tuna agreement in the Indian Ocean both in terms of the fishing access it provides the EU and the financial benefits derived by the Seychelles as a result of the EU fleet’s activities in the region.
Given that the Seychelles acts as a focal point for the operations of the EU fleet in the Indian Ocean, the protocol is of strategic importance to the EU which sees its relations with the Seychelles as being of leading significance in the region, especially in the context of fisheries. The European Commission says that it is a major development partner for the Seychelles as the fishing activities of the EU fleet provide direct employment opportunities locally and thus generate direct benefits for the Seychelles and its wider economy.
It is likely that the negotiations will be concluded at the third round of talks to be held in the Seychelles on 9-10 May, where the discussions will focus on the substantial issues relating to fishing opportunities and financial compensation.
The EU funds overseas fishing projects through Fisheries Partnership Agreements, which environmental groups find problematic since they are given in exchange for access to fishing grounds for European fishing vessels. Some environmental groups say that agreements are highly controversial since evidence has emerged that EU vessels are increasingly responsible for overfishing fishing grounds of developing nations that signed up to them.
The Agreements and the tuna fishing industry itself are extremely important to the Seychelles economy, benefiting a wide array of local stakeholders. As regards the Agreements, between 2005 and 2011 the EU paid the Seychelles at least € 24,750,000 for licenses. Last year the EU provided funding for the construction of a new tuna fishing quay and related infrastructure.
In April this year the EU provided a grant of 294,000 Euro to Seychelles through the Smartfish Porgram implemmented in the region by the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), the regional intergovernmental body, for the purpose of strengthening fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The Seychelles is host to one of the world’s largest tuna cannery, the Indian Ocean Tuna company , which is the country’s largest employer and capable of producing 1.5 million cans a day. The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC), the regional fisheries management organization for tuna, is also located in Seychelles
Source of image: Hunt Deltel