A majority of the Seychelles-flagged purse seiners fishing in the island nation's waters have reached their annual yellowfin quota for the year and are awaiting the beginning of the year to resume activities, a top government official said Friday.
Eleven out of the 13 Seychelles-flagged vessels are now moored outside of Port Victoria awaiting the beginning of the new fishing season, Charles Bastienne, the Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, told a news conference.
He said the vessels have reached their annual quota set out by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) and it was normal to see so many of them moored outside Port Victoria.
"The reason why we are seeing so many fishing vessels moored close to our port is that they have reached their quota of 33,211 tonnes of yellowfin tuna, as stipulated by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission," said Bastienne.
There only two vessels under the Seychelles' jurisdiction still in operation as they have not reached their quota.
"We are monitoring them closely to ensure they abide by the regulation and stay within the limit as we do not want to be penalised," said Bastienne.
"The vessels that exceed the said quota established to ensure the sustainability of the yellowfin tuna stock will have to repay the exceeded amount in 2021," said the Minister.
In 2018, the island nation exceeded its fishing quota by five percent, which is around 1500 tonnes of yellowfin tuna. According to the new IOTC regulation, this will have to be repaid in 2021.
With the decrease in the number of vessels going out at sea, Bastienne said there will be less activity in the port which may impact negatively on local stevedores, but this he said will be resolved shortly.
"With the beginning of fishing mid-January, our peak season will start and things will go back to normal," said Bastienne.
Fisheries is the second top contributor to the Seychelles' economy.
Apart from the Seychelles-flagged vessels, under a new agreement between the island nation and the European Union (EU), 40 EU vessels are allowed to fish in Seychelles waters with a quota of 50,000 tonnes. At present, there are only 27 vessels active.