Expansion of destructive Indian Ocean tuna fishing paid for by EU
Friday 6 July, 2012, 15:03, by
As a way to substitute for ever-dwindling fish stocks in European waters, it was announced today that the EU has allocated funding to a controversial tuna fishing project in Seychelles, an island group north of Madagascar, in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Yesterday contracts were signed for the building of a new fishing quay in one of the nation's port towns, increasing landing capacity and modernising infrastructure for the purse seine tuna fishing fleet which operates in the region. The fleet, which is mostly comprised of European vessels, is linked to the overfishing of local yellowfin tuna, skipjack tuna and bigeye tuna populations.
All species of tuna are threatened by relentless overfishing, most notably bluefin tuna
Photo by Jay Bergesen
It is believed that the decision by the EU to fund the modernisation of the fishing port is directly linked to the opportunities it would create for European vessels to land and process their tuna catches more quickly and efficiently. Seychelles is home to the Indian Ocean Tuna (IOT) factory, one of the largest tuna canning plants in the world and the new project will allow for processing capacity to be increased.
In recent years the EU has stepped up its diplomatic efforts in the region to broaden fishing opportunities for European companies. Almost all of the purse seine fishing vessels now operating in the Indian Ocean to catch yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares), skipjack tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis) and bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus) are European flagged. The latest statistics show that back in 2008, of the 47 purse seine ship that were operating in the Indian Ocean, already 37 were registered by European nations.
The EU funds overseas fishing projects through Fisheries Partnership Agreements; controversial aid packages that are given in exchange for access to fishing grounds for European fishing vessels. The 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. Last year a coalition of organisations working to expose the secret fishing deals secured a major victory when some of the documents were made public.
It is not known exactly how much the EU has contributed towards the Seychelles infrastructure project but recently released documents show that between 2005 and 2011 the EU paid the Seychelles at least € 24,750,000 in return for access to its waters for EU fishing ships.
New EU Funded Seychelles Tuna Port Super Seiners
Original article by Nation Seychelles, July 6 2012
A contract for the work was signed yesterday at Caravelle House by chief executive Finley Racombo of the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) on behalf of the government, and managing director Vijay Patel of Vijay Construction Pty (Ltd) who will build the tuna fishing quay on Ile du Port, also known as Zone 14. Among those who witnessed the signing were Natural Resources and Industry Minister Peter Sinon, Nathalie Gowers from the British High Commission who represented the EU, and the SFA board chairman Philippe Michaud and its members.
Also there was Charles Pool who has been contracted as an independent consultant to the project and who will supervise civil works. Mr. Sinon said the fishing industry is one of the main pillars and revenue earners of our economy but we have to keep investing in it as it faces stiff competition from neighboring countries. "In view of the ongoing development of the fisheries sector both locally and in the region and its importance to the Seychelles economy, the government decided to allocate about 30 hectares of land on Ile du Port to the fisheries sector," he said.
Part of the planned development for Zone 14 is to build the fishing quay – which was approved by the cabinet of ministers in 2006 – and to allocate plots of land for businesses and services related to fisheries. Initially, under the Integrated Industrial Fisheries Development Plan, the concept was to build two dolphin quays on Ile du Port but this was later changed to just one elongated quay which can later be extended on both ends. The elongated fishing quay will measure 120 meters in length and span 30 meters. It will serve as a logistics base for the industrial tuna purse seiner fleet to land their catches, and will also be suitable for the loading and unloading of fishing nets and salt.
Future plans include using the quay for transshipment as well. It will be able to accommodate tuna boats and reefer ships not more than 4,200 tons and lengths between 80 to 110 meters with drafts not longer than eight meters. Ships will berth in parallel, with one being tied along the quay and the rest alongside each other.
"Building of this quay has come at a significant time when there is increasing competition in the region as countries try to promote their ports. It is important that Seychelles also does fisheries port development to maintain its position as the main tuna landing/transshipment port in the Indian Ocean," Mr. Sinon said, adding the new quay will help cut congestion at the main fishing port and commercial quay in Victoria which also need to be repaired. He said the new quay will open up the development of the surrounding land on Ile du Port which is currently lying idle resulting in loss of revenue, noting there will be storage for salt and other items and nets “will no longer need to be transported elsewhere for repairs as is the case now”.
He told Nation with a lull in piracy, fishing activities are catching up again, and thanks to armed guards on Seychelles flag fliers, there have been no attacks on the industrial ships many of which are coming back to fish in our waters. He said the economy will benefit from the setting up of new businesses, land rent, port dues, pilot/tug fees, stevedoring, and other revenues which are brought in by the industrial tuna purse seiners, creating more employment. Mr. Sinon also thanked the SFA board and staff whom he said have worked hard to ensure the project’s launch.
He thanked the EU for funding the project, which it is doing through the financial contribution it gives Seychelles under the Fisheries Partnership Agreement. Mr. Patel said the project has been on the drawing board for some time, and he is happy this time he won the contract through a very transparent tender process. Building of the quay is a joint collaboration between the Seychelles Ports Authority (SPA) and the SFA. Although after completion, the quay will be managed by the SPA.
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