Seychelles has been looking at all avenues to further develop the sector. (Aubrey Lesperance)
(Seychelles News Agency) – Seychelles is developing deeper ties with the United States in its quest to develop its aquaculture sector and harness the riches of the ocean for economic and social growth.
The Minister for Fisheries and the Blue Economy, Jean Francois Ferrari, made the declaration at the opening of the first aquaculture fisheries forum to be held in the western Indian Ocean island nation.
The forum has been organised by the Seychelles Fisheries Authority (SFA) and the Seychelles Investment Board (SIB) together with the US Embassy for Mauritius and Seychelles.
Entitled “Promoting Sustainable Aquaculture Development”, the one-day workshop at L’Escale Resort Marina and Spa, gathered various actors in the industry such as fishers’ associations and representatives.
The U.S. Ambassador to Seychelles, Henry Jardine, said that helping Seychelles to develop its aquaculture industry, forms part of his country’s priority to protect the oceans.
“The U.S. recognises aquaculture as a key component of climate resilient key systems. This is particularly important in countries like Seychelles that depend on fish stocks and these stocks with changing waters and the climate impacts are even more critical,” he added.
Jardine said that aquaculture will help in the preservation of the oceans and combatting climate change.
The head of the aquaculture department at SFA, Aubrey Lesperance told the press that the fishers were invited as “we want to make the sector more accessible to them, especially with the depletion of fish stocks.”
The opening of a broodstock, acclimation and quarantine facility at the Providence Fishing Port on the main island of Mahe in 2019 marked the opening of aquaculture as an industry. It is also the central research facility.
Since then Seychelles has been looking at all avenues to further develop the sector, especially as post- COVID-19 pandemic, the world has been looking for sustainable ways to produce good protein.
The latest training session is the result of SFA and SIB jointly applying for a grant to help develop the sector.
Lesperance said that the added collaboration between Seychelles and the U.S. will allow the island nation to tap into the American investor market.
“After attending the workshop, Seychelles will have an agreement with the U.S. that we are doing is aligned to what U.S. investors are looking for. We have partnered with SIB to ensure our investment climate in the country is also aligned with that of prospective investors from the U.S. and our ease of business is improving,” he added.
Lesperance said that through the series of exchanges, the authorities have been able to identify existing gaps in areas such as investment and what should be done to close them.
In a presentation, the head of SIB, Ann Rosette, highlighted that there are areas in the ease of doing business that could be improved.
Lesperance said that investors want to be able to invest as smoothly as possible as time is money.
The changes that the authorities are putting in place aim to attract U.S. investors in the emerging industry “and along the way, we may be an example to other sectors, so they may have pointers in how to better attract investors,” said Lesperance.
As part of the exchanges, an American aquaculture expert, Jason Heckathorn, was at the workshop to provide his expertise on the subject.
Heckathorn is the founder of Forever Oceans – a firm based in various countries in the world working to raise nutrient-rich fish in a sustainable manner.
When asked about the viability of an aquaculture industry in Seychelles, he said “There is a vast and valuable marine resource here in terms of the ocean space. It’s very clean waters, there’s brilliant bathymetry and that represents a great opportunity; economically, socially and environmentally. But there needs to be managed appropriately to achieve synergy.”
Lesperance said that “the message we are getting from the team from the U.S. is confirming what we have been saying all along and has given us