Seychelles highlights priorities at 32nd session of the Committee on fisheries
Seychelles was represented at the 32nd session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) by Bernard Shamlaye, Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the FAO, and Philippe Michaud, Special Adviser to the Minister responsible for the Blue Economy.
A special event to celebrate the coming into force on 5th June this year of the FAO Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing was held on Monday 11th July, the opening day of the session, at which the FAO Director General, José Graziano da Silva, presented certificates to the countries that are already party to the Agreement. Seychelles acceded to the Agreement in June 2013, the first African state to become a party to it.
Noting that IUU fishing not only jeopardises marine ecosystems but also threatens the livelihoods and food securities of millions of fishers around the world, Mr da Silva hailed the Agreement as “the dawn of a new era in the effort to combat illegal fishing” and invited other countries to join it. Along with other members of the African group, Seychelles urged the taking of the necessary steps to ensure its effective implementation and called for support to developing and small island countries to overcome their resource and capacity constraints.
Over the five days of the session, the two Seychellois delegates participated as panellists in a number of side events. Mr Michaud participated in an event exploring the use of fishery statistics in national or global assessments of food security, another entitled “Blue Growth – from concept to action” where he spoke particularly on innovative financing models for supporting Blue Economy initiatives, and a third on supporting responsible fisheries through the use of credible information. This last event was co-organised by Seychelles and Fisheries Transparency International (FiTI).
In the side event “From seas and lakes to plates: smart partnership for sustainable fisheries in the Eastern and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean Region”, Ambassador Shamlaye presented the Indian Ocean Islands’ projects of SmartFish, a programme co-managed by the Indian Ocean Commission and the FAO and funded by the European Union. The Plan Régional de Surveillance des Pêches, the IOC flagship initiative to combat IUU fishing was highlighted, as was the recently-founded Fédération des pêcheurs artisans de l’Océan indien which is currently chaired by the chairperson of the Seychelles Fishers and Boat-Owners Association.
In addition to discussions on other matters, the 32nd session of COFI welcomed the proposed FAO corporate climate change strategy and action plan and the FAO draft Strategy for Fisheries, Aquaculture and Climate Change for 2017-2020. It called on the FAO to provide guidance on adaptive measures for decision-making in response to the impacts of climate change on fisheries resources. The specific role of corals and their vulnerability to climate change was noted. The inclusion of oceans and ocean-dependent communities in the global climate change discussions was welcomed and it was urged that the focus be maintained at the UNFCCC COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco in November.
COFI reaffirmed its support for the Blue Growth Initiative as a main focus of the FAO’s work on fisheries and aquaculture in support of food security and nutrition, poverty reduction, sustainable management of aquatic resources and resilience for the attainment of the sustainable development goals adopted by countries last year.
In a meeting with staff of the Director General’s Office and Mr Patrice Talla Takoukam, the FAO Representative for Madagascar, Comoros, Mauritius and Seychelles, Ambassador Shamlaye expressed the appreciation of the President and the Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture for the Organisation’s support to Seychelles and the country’s expectation of further cooperation.