SEYCHELLES – Seychelles and the European Union (EU) have initiated the first round of negotiations for a new Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement and Protocol worth US$33.29 million.

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 Protocol also lays down the administrative rules and procedures for the implementation of the agreement including financial support to the sustainable development of fisheries.

The Fisheries Protocol will see the EU provide Seychelles with a total financial contribution of US$33.29 million including access fees for its fishing vessels operating in the island nation’s waters, reports Seychelles News Agency.

Led by Charles Bastienne, Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture in Seychelles, the negotiations for a new Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement and Protocol are expected to conclude on Wednesday, August 21.

The EU delegation is headed by Emmanuel Berck, Deputy Head for Trade Negotiations and Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements of the Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, has had fishing agreements with the European Union, formerly the European Community, since the late 1990s.

The current six-year protocol to the agreement will expire next year on January 17. Notably, Fisheries is the second top contributor to the island nation.

Recently, the Ministry of Fisheries and Agriculture launched a three-year comprehensive plan that will see a new government body set up to manage all commercial activities relating to fisheries in Seychelles.

“The aim of the plan is to continue developing and sustaining the fisheries sector, the second pillar of our economy.

“The ministry, together with the Seychelles Fisheries Authority (SFA), seeks to address the challenges impacting negatively on the industry and limiting its development,” Minister Charles Bastienne said at the launch.

The plan covers all aspects of the sector and outlines several new requirements for artisanal fishermen and artisanal fishing boat-owners alike.

The new government body “will undertake transactions relating to fisheries and fish products on the international market and ensure effective marketing of Seychelles’ fish so that the products get its due value,” explained Minister Bastienne.

According to Bastienne the company will develop, own, and manage infrastructures relating to the sector, participate in aquaculture as well as managing all ice plants. It will also be responsible for baits and other fishing gear.

The three-year plan of which implementation will start as of 2020 is being supported by the European Union.

It lays out an ambitious plan amounting to approximately $6 million for numerous projects including ice plants and jetties.