- The first round of negotiations for a new fisheries agreement between Seychelles and the European Union (EU) started yesterday in the Seychellois capital, Victoria. The new agreement, when reached, is set to replace the current one, which expires in January 2005. Seychelles is hoping for improved conditions that respect regional environmental limits.
According to the Seychellois Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the European Commission (EU) is proposing what it calls a "new generation" of fisheries agreements, termed "partnership agreements," aimed at focusing on conservation of resources and more consultation and dialogue between the parties.
The Victoria Foreign Ministry in a statement says that "Seychelles is welcoming the spirit of the new agreement, which will allow more regular consultations between the parties and should also provide greater opportunities for more economic activities, such as joint ventures between the EU and the Seychelles."
The new generation agreement has already been signed with other small island nations comparable to Seychelles, including the Solomon Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia, both in the Pacific.
Seychelles Fishing Authority chairman Sylvestre Radegonde, who is also the principal secretary for foreign affairs, led the Seychellois delegation at the negotiations whilst Ceasar Deben, the director for external policy and markets at the European Commission's Directorate General of Fisheries, headed the EU delegation.
The current EU-Seychelles 2002-05 fisheries agreement focuses on large tuna quotas for EU vessels in Seychellois waters. According to the European Parliament, the deal with Seychelles is "the most important tuna protocol between the EU and a third country." It gives a total of 67 EU vessels the right to catch 46,000 tonnes of tuna per year while the Europeans annually transfer euro 3.5 million to the Seychellois government.
The local fisheries sector, under the current EU deal, receives a substantial part of this transfer, totalling euro 1.2 million per year "to help its development." The agreement also includes measures to promote sustainable fisheries in Seychelles and EU contributions are earmarked for these efforts.
Due to its dependency on tourism and fisheries, Seychellois authorities are making great efforts to adopt sustainable environment policies. The Victoria Foreign Ministry is determined to avoid a depletion of fish stocks in the Western Indian Ocean and is set to present tough environmental demands to the EU during the forthcoming negotiations.
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