Seychelles: First Round of EU-Seychelles Talks On Fishing Deal Ends - Next Round in Brussels

The first round of negotiations for a new 'Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement and Protocol' between Seychelles and the European Union ended Wednesday.

The next round of negotiations will take place in two weeks in Brussels, Belgium.

The Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture, Charles Bastienne, told the press that sustainability of resources is a key point on the table.

"The title of the agreement is 'Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement and Protocol' and definitely we are talking about durability to make sure that our resources, in this context, tuna, has the time to reproduce, and that all of this is managed in such a way that it won't destroy the environment," said Bastienne.

The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement is a longstanding cooperation agreement between Seychelles and the EU which enables EU vessels to fish in the waters under the jurisdiction of Seychelles.

"The EU also wants sustainability so that the sector stays in existence for future generations to enjoy. We are all aware of the Yellowfin tuna issue, which will remain in force until IOTC (Indian Ocean Tuna Commission) through its scientific committee decides otherwise," said the minister.

Bastienne said that during the first round of discussion, the two parties have started talking about the issue of fish aggregating devices (FADs) and local seamen.

"We are starting these discussions today and might conclude them in the second round. The issues of financial contributions usually come towards the end of discussions," said Bastienne.

He added that discussions are taking into account the Marine Spatial Plan, where Seychelles has pledged 30 percent of its Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) to conservation. Negotiations are to be done in regards to this "as to a certain extent it will affect the fishing of EU."

On Tuesday the National Assembly's International Affairs Committee expressed disappointment that the Ministry had started negotiations without the representation of members of the committee.

"The EU is here with five members from the European Union, three from the EU commission and a representative from France and Spain the two main countries fishing in Seychelles waters. There is no representative from the EU parliament, so we do not see why we should bring our parliament into the negotiation," said Bastienne.

He added that the committee was given the chance to put forward their points and suggestions during a meeting held between the minister and the International Affairs Committee.

The current agreement between the EU and Seychelles entered into force in 2007 and lasts until November. Under the Fisheries Protocol, the EU provides Seychelles with a total financial contribution of 30 million euros including access fees for its fishing vessels operating in the island nation's waters.

The current six-year protocol will expire next year on January 17. The duration of the next agreement has not yet been outlined.

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