An event in the Seychelles focussed attention on fish as the most important natural resource of the Seychelles. Called the “blue gold” of the country it is vital for the Seychellois economy, contributing no less then 30% of the national GDP, and 10% of the employment opportunity.

An event organised by the Sir James Mancham International Institute for Peace Studies and Diplomacy and the James Michel Blue Economy Research Institute (BERI) of the University of Seychelles brought together regional and international experts to discuss questions relating to the current regulatory system for fishing, enforcement and information sharing.

Sandy Davies of the Stop Illegal Fishing Secretariat presented on the value of information sharing as a means to increase compliance to regulations in he fisheries sector, stating: “FISH-i Africa has brought a new approach to fisheries enforcement to the Western Indian Ocean. In the past countries did not discuss details of the vessels they flagged and licensed, creating a perfect vacuum for illegal operators to provide false and forged information that was never cross-checked or verified. FISH-i Africa investigations and routine information sharing challenge these operators. We have already seen an increase in compliance and can only anticipate this will further improve as cross checking is increased.”

Peter Sinon, former Minister responsible for fisheries in the Seychelles noted: “FISH-i has proven its worth and value – this is demonstrated through the increase from the initial five countries to the current eight as well as the numerous cases of illegal fishing that the task force has worked on. In the past we were blind to what was happening in our own backyard, but today we are working together to secure a better and more sustainable future for the region. This is the future we need if we are to improve the income for our people and tackle the challenges that the region faces – including high population growth and declining fish stocks.”