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Seychelles hosts the kick-off meeting of the FISH-i Africa Project

Seychelles hosts the kick-off meeting of the FISH-i Africa Project ( A major regional partnership has been announced to help combat illegal fishing in the western Indian Ocean, which is causing serious economic losses as well as social and environmental problems for coastal states.

The partnership, FISH-i Africa, launched by the Stop Illegal Fishing (SIF) working group of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), had its kick-off meeting on Thursday, December 13, 2012 at the Coral Strand Hotel at Beau Vallon, ending on Friday, December 14, 2012. With technical and financial support from the Pew Environment Group, the project will also involve cooperation with regional bodies such as the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) and the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) through its SmartFish program on illegal fishing.

FISH-i Africa intends to build cooperation, information-sharing, and analytical systems between the key Southeast African coastal states of Comoros, Kenya, Mozambique, Seychelles, and the United Republic of Tanzania.

The partner countries have committed to establish a platform for real-time sharing of sometimes sensitive data on vessels, their movements, catch, and owners, aimed at enabling nations to take timely action against suspected illegal operators.

Seychelles Minister for Natural Resources and Industry, Peter Sinon, who opened the project’s inaugural meeting of fisheries officials and agencies, said: “Africa sits in the middle of very important and fragile oceans. We can no longer tolerate illegal fishing. We have to ensure this finite resource is passed on to future generations, and we have the jurisdiction to act now.”

As a “live” example of the new engagement, Minister Sinon said Seychelles was actively sharing information with Mozambique in the case of the Spanish-owned tuna vessel Txori Argi, which was fined 1.2 million euros earlier this year by a Maputo court for allegedly fishing without a license in Mozambique’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Mozambican officials allege the bank bond put up for the penalty has not been honored.

Other possible areas of cooperation include sharing of legal and analytical expertise to pursue fishery and related crimes such as fraud, tax evasion, and money-laundering. Delegates stressed the need for such expertise in tracing the real owners of some fishing vessels, often obscured by complex corporate structures registered in distant third-party countries. FISH-i will also bring ever-more accessible technology to assist in this work.

Alejandro Anganuzzi, the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) Secretary, attending the opening session, expressed strong support for the pilot project. “We have a huge expanse of ocean to police, stretching from Tasmania in the south, to the Northern Gulf and the Bay of Bengal in the East. The information-sharing and experiences gleaned from this project will be of great use and interest to all IOTC members.”

Stop Illegal Fishing (SIF) spokesman, Mark Ssemakula, stated: “In 2010, 33 African States at the Conference of African Ministers, Fisheries, and Aquaculture (CAMFA) agreed on the need for urgent actions to deter and eradicate IUU fishing. FISH-i Africa brings a practical response to these recommendations. It provides a smart system for countries to work together to target their actions at those destroying our resources and not playing by the rules we set.”

The project to set up the FISH-i system will work for approximately 12 months, but, if successful, it is hoped the model can be extended and even replicated in other coastal African regions.

PHOTO (Top to Bottom): Minister Sinon while addressing the participants of the workshop, Group photo of the participants of the kick-off meeting of the FISH-i Project / Photos from Seychelles Ministry of Tourism and Culture


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