Nature Seychelles’ Eric Blais (Cousin Island Special Reserve Coordinator) just attended a one day workshop together with other local civil society and private sector organisations in Seychelles that have an interest in tuna and tuna-like fishery. The consultative workshop was an initiative of the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF). The meeting which was held at Seychelles Fishing Authority premises on the 27th November 2014 was aimed at information and experience sharing in a bid to influence tuna fishery national and regional processes, with the hope of “promoting stock sustainability and maximize socio-economic benefits from these resources.”
One of the outcomes of the meeting was the creation of a forum which will be used as a platform to address issues in the tuna fishing industry. Four organisations (Nature Seychelles, Apostleship of the Sea, Seychelles Sports Fishing Club and Fishing Boat Owners Association) volunteered to spearhead discussions and a way forward. As the steering committee, representatives from the four organisations will meet in the first quarter of 2015 to work on the next steps to be taken to move forward with the forum.
Below is the context of tuna fishery as outlined by the WWF, in preparation for the workshop:
The tuna fishery is one of the most important, but also on of the most threatened fisheries in the world, mainly due to overfishing. Overexploitation has caused declines in tuna stocks and threatens the wider ecosystem by depleting marine biomass and potentially disrupting the trophic chain. Yet, this is one of the biggest food businesses in the world, involving a complex mix of ecological, economic, geographical, political and cultural factors. In the Indian Ocean, tropical tuna do not seem to be overfished at present according to scientists, although some other species managed by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission are subject to overfishing or to lack of fishery data. With an average annual catch of 826,088t, tropical tuna are of great importance for the region and many challenges remain, such as ensuring a sustainable management to prevent overfishing in the future, or equitable benefits from this resource. These issues are of primer importance for Seychelles, as these islands are located at the center of the migration pattern of tropical tuna, and tuna fishing and processing accounts for close to 5% of GDP.
Through the years, WWF has spent significant efforts in promoting initiatives for improving the sustainable management of fisheries and governance, and experience showed us that strategic partnerships around a common vision are powerful tools for triggering significant reforms in this field. WWF has therefore committed to promote the involvement of civil society and private sector in tuna fisheries issues. We have already supported financially and technically the establishment of civil society and private sector platforms in the South West Indian Ocean States. Some of these platform are institutionalized and already well recognized at the national and regional level (e.g. TuFak in Kenya), or are still in a development process (e.g. in Madagascar). Since 2010, WWF is also promoting annual meetings gathering the civil society and private sector from the SWIO region (including representatives from these platforms) to share experience on tuna issues.
This dynamic aims at enabling the civil society and the private sector to play a central role in ensuring that the SWIO states derive sustainable benefit from the tuna industry to foster economic development through generation of additional revenues for the country, poverty reduction, income increase for local communities and job creation.In the Seychelles, the creation and institutionalization of a civil society / private sector coalition on tuna issue could enable all participants to develop a common voice in the sector. This would also be a good opportunity for the civil society to have a common understanding of tuna fishery and management issues in the Indian Ocean and in the Seychelles, and to influence regulations, decision making and the