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The world’s new economic frontier is the oceans

The world’s new economic frontier is the oceans

10.12.2014

President James Michel opened the National Stakeholder Consultation Forum on the Blue Economy at the International Conference Centre this morning,  saying the Blue Economy is not just a space for the creation of socio-economic opportunities but also a powerful means to further foster the nation’s unity, in all of its diversity, through its spin-offs, its activities and benefits.

“The world’s new economic frontier is the oceans….This dialogue on the Blue Economy is not just for one generation. It concerns us all. It concerns our parents and grandparents. It concerns our children. The sea has always been a source of livelihood for the Seychellois. The Blue Economy, we are all convinced, can increase substantially the opportunities from it. The Blue Economy we are aiming for is about participation, the creation of new opportunities and social justice. Every Seychellois has a stake in it,” said the President in his keynote address.

The President called for a more integrated fishing industry where the value chain is reinforced and where shore-based activities are developed with local participation.  He welcomed the SAPMER development for the construction of a fishing quay, as an example of public-private partnership that also creates opportunities for local companies.

“It is important that nothing is wasted from the sea, that the by-catch is fully utilised, that value addition is increased and that more Seychellois work on industrial tuna vessels.  The industry must be fully integrated to enable more sharing of the wealth by both local and foreign investors,” he added.

President Michel said that the country’s first priority must be sustainability as the management of maritime safety spaces is so important, with Seychelles planning various initiatives to create new marine-protected areas and also to better manage stocks at the same time.

The President said that further investment is needed in the Blue Economy and called on Seychellois banks to play their part to make affordable credit readily available to Seychelles’ Blue Economy entrepreneurs.He noted that the Government has already invested heavily in creating new opportunities in fisheries and the related maritime sector activities.

“We have created a new fishing port in Providence and, in so doing, we have offered opportunities for Seychellois fishermen to add value to their catch. We are now finalising a new phase for the development of Providence. We have also built a new fishing port on Ile du Port.We have created new opportunities for the involvement of Seychellois companies in semi-industrial and industrial fishing.We have strengthened the Maritime Training Centre through a partnership with Sri Lanka for the training of young people in this field."

Mr. Michel acknowledged that the Blue Economy also has many challenges ahead, such as the concerns about diminishing fish stocks, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) and piracy, which has been contained but still remains a menace on the high seas.He added that Seychellois exporters of swordfish face unfair barriers to the European market because of unjust phytosanitary regulations, which is one of the many challenges that the National Stakeholders Consultation Forum needs to address.

President Michel also paid tribute to the Seychellois fishermen who joined together in associations and brought better services to their respective communities, as well as the investments of their enterprises as well as the owners of fishing vessels who, in spite of numerous challenges, have not hesitated to create a Seychelles fishing fleet, based on quality and sustainable fishing.

“I also pay tribute to the Seychellois entrepreneur who, in spite of the difficulties in raising funds for their project, perseveres, knowing that our future depends on our ability to maximise the potential of our resources from the ocean in order to bring more benefits for us all.”

The two-day conference will encourage pragmatic approaches, identify possible conflicts and propose resolutions by promoting dialogue between the various stakeholders in key thematic fields pertaining to the Blue Economy. Those are primarily in: fisheries, aquaculture, marine biotechnology, sustainable marine resource exploitation and marine spatial planning, as to find common ground and tangible ways in which the Blue Economy can benefit Seychelles.

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