Six local investors received their licences for research and development, hatchery and nursery, and production in the aquaculture sector, inching Seychelles closer to reducing its importation of certain seafood and allowing for more export of certain species.
The licences were presented to the investors in a short ceremony on Wednesday by the interim chief executive of the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA), Phillipe Michaud, and the deputy chief executive, Ashik Hassan.
Fisheries minister Jean Francois Ferrari outlined that this is a significant milestone in Seychelles’ second economic pillar – fisheries – and once aquaculture is in full swing, the island nation will be able to do what is called import substitution.
“This will allow us to replace products that are being imported with locally produced ones. This will allow us to keep the forex that would otherwise go out of the country. The natural resources that we have are currently under pressure and through aquaculture, we will also be able to relieve this pressure to an extent,” said Ferrari.
He added that “one of the secondary positive effects that will come, is that the remains of fish that are currently ending up on the landfill can be transformed into fish food for the species being produced through aquaculture, becoming a circular economy that will benefit a lot of people.”
Under the issued licenses, four investors will be able to carry out research, trials and pilot production of sea cucumber, spanner crab, mud crab, and rock oyster. Two more licences cover the production of prawns and sea cucumbers. One investor, in addition to its production licence, was also issued a hatchery and nursery licence. The licensees will have a grace period of three years.
One of the investors, Harmony Investments, will look at research on the reproduction of sea cucumbers in tanks to produce juveniles that will either be released into the wild in a process called sea ranching or supply commercial production.
“The research started through a SeyCCAT grant submitted in 2019. Through the research, we found that it will also bring solutions for people who are currently involved in these fisheries as well as for the environment. There is also the commercial aspect, which we are planning to venture into,” said Christopher Lespoir from Harmony Investments.
Sea cucumber is a species with high market value and is in high demand globally, especially in the Asian market.
Talking to the press, the head of aquaculture at SFA, Aubrey Lesperance, said that there are another eight investors seeking licences some of which will involve fish farming.
“Fish farming is much more delicate and difficult. The investors we are working with are looking to farm mangrove snapper and red snapper. There are foreign companies looking into yellowfin tuna,” said Lesperance.
He outlined that there are also other species of fish that SFA would like investors to venture into aquaculture with.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), aquaculture is still one of the fastest-growing food production sectors globally.
“We have seen a shift towards more sustainable use of our precious ocean resources with more and more companies venturing into aquaculture elsewhere. Now we want to ensure that Seychelles does not miss out on this great opportunity to tap into this sustainable business opportunity as well,” said Ferrari.