Fisheries governance

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Region:    Africa & Western Indian Ocean

Development of a Harvest Strategy Policy and Management Standards for Seychelles’ Fisheries Seychelles

Ministry of Fisheries & the Blue Economy (Seychelles) - Project Dates:
July 2021 - April 2022

Description of Project:
The development agenda of Seychelles is now viewed through the lens of a blue economy, focused on the growth of ocean-based economies that are environmentally and socially sustainable. Tourism and fisheries, the two main pillars of the economy, are central to strategies for meeting the blue economy agenda. The fisheries sector has grown substantially in the last four decades, driven primarily by the development of the Indian Ocean purse seine tuna fishery that uses Port Victoria as the regional hub for landings and transshipment. In the last few decades, artisanal fisheries and a local semi-industrial longline fishery for tuna and swordfish have also developed. The sector now accounts for a significant portion of gross domestic product but is also of considerable social and cultural importance to the country.

One key area of international best practice that is not covered by the existing legislative or policy frameworks of Seychelles is harvest strategies, which have emerged in the last decade as an innovative approach for addressing many of the challenges of fisheries management.  Harvest strategies, or management procedures, are pre-agreed upon frameworks for making fisheries management decisions, typically comprising components of management objectives, monitoring, stock assessment, reference points (e.g. target and limit), harvest control rules and management strategy evaluation. National harvest strategy policy frameworks, which have been adopted in a number of jurisdictions, are founded on the precautionary principle and ensure that harvest strategies address risks of overfishing regardless of data availability and the levels of uncertainty regarding the state of stocks.  

Significant advances have been made in developing tools and approaches for applying harvest strategies in data-poor fisheries . Recent engagement and capacity building for Seychelles stakeholders by the developers of a harvest strategy tool  demonstrated the applicability and usefulness of harvest strategies for the management of local and complex artisanal fisheries. Importantly, the adoption of a national policy for implementing harvest strategies would underpin the implementation of the recently adopted Seychelles Marine Spatial Plan under which sustainable-use marine protected areas were created, since harvest strategies allow for defining ‘sustainability’ indicators for ecological, social and economic fisheries objectives, and can be used to examine trade-offs and to define acceptable levels of risk. The national policy would provide for minimum standards to be applied as fisheries management plans proliferate to cover zones created by the marine spatial planning as well as ensuring coherence in approach across all fisheries management areas and plans. 

Services Provided:
  • Defined the scope of the policy and a framework for harvest strategies that is relevant to Seychelles’ fisheries context and meets international best practices.  
  • Identified options for fisheries management standards that must be met through harvest strategies.  
  • Ensured that the policy vision is coherent with national sustainable development policy and emerging concepts for a blue economy
    Established the basis for decision making on harvest control rules and requirements for management of healthy stocks, managing new and emerging fisheries and rebuilding of overfished stocks, incorporating provisions for data-poor and multispecies fisheries. 
  • Examined requirements and make recommendations for incorporation of the policy in the relevant legislative framework.  
  • Defined roles and responsibilities for implementation of the policy, established requirements for monitoring, assessment and reporting, and provided estimates of implementation costs and human resource requirements. 
  • Examined options for an independent, funded resource monitoring and assessment committee that balances public and private sector membership.    
  • Validated the policy, harvest strategy framework and management standards through workshops with stakeholders and meetings with the relevant institutional bodies. 
  • Drafted information notes, policy briefs and Cabinet memorandum for ministerial approval of the policy.