GREATEST THREAT TO FISHERIES, TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT
President James Michel has made a strong appeal to the international community to tackle the problem of piracy in the Indian Ocean region, which he described as the ‘greatest threat’ to fisheries, trade and development.
The President was speaking at the opening of the Africa, Caribbean Pacific(ACP) 2nd Fisheries Ministerial Meeting at the International Conference Centre this afternoon.
“We need concrete action which does not simply skirt around the problem. We appreciate the assistance we are receiving- but it is too slow, and too insignificant in the face of the scale of the problem,” said President Michel, citing this weekend’s anti-piracy mission where the Seychelles Coast Guard was successful in rescuing Seychellois hostages and capturing the pirates .
“We need tangible assistance that goes beyond expressions of support. Following this latest incident we have a further 15 pirates to contend with in our justice system. We need to be realistic if we are going to succeed, and the current level of support does not reflect the reality of the situation.”
The President called on the solidarity of the ACP states to recognize that piracy goes beyond a national or even regional problem, but that affects the global economy, and will eventually affect all countries.
President Michel also called on ACP states to become active participants in development, particularly as valuable fisheries resources in ACP states are being exploited by other non-ACP countries.
“With the increasing demand for fish and fish products in most developed markets, our marine resources have the potential to truly be our ‘Blue Gold’. ACP catches have grown tenfold in the last two decades and, now provide over 60 % of the global fish trade. Unfortunately, because the majority of value addition of fisheries products does not occur in ACP markets, the true value of our ‘Blue Gold’ is harnessed by others. This is a reality of post colonial trade for all ACPs,” said President Michel.
The President noted that ACPs are faced with a double challenge; the erosion of preferential access to markets such as the European Union as well as uncompetitive nature of ACP economies in relation to more technologically advanced and subsidized competitors.
“We do not need an ideological debate about the merits of free trade, nor about the rights of individual states to use subsidies. What we need are practical solutions for ACPs that reflect global realities,” said President Michel.
The President added that ACP countries need to have sustainable management and conservation practices which allow for fisheries resources to offer long term revenue generation.
“Simply put, we need to be able to catch less and earn more. This may go against the grain in relation to the way trade is managed at the global level. But it offers us a way for us to move from compensation, to development. To move from dependency to independence. To move from short term exploitation to long term sustainability.”