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Country review: Seychelles

Jan Robinson, Riaz Aumeeruddy, Marlene Isidore, Rondolph Payet, Michel Marguerite, Mike Laval, Gerard Domingue and Vincent Lucas
Seychelles Fishing Authority
June 2005


Marine capture fisheries management in the Republic of Seychelles has progressed considerably over the last two decades in tandem with the development of industrial tuna fisheries in the western Indian Ocean (WIO). Seychelles now serves as the regional hub for industrial tuna fisheries in the region and hosts the secretariat of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC). Although industrial fisheries constitute a major pillar of the economy, artisanal fisheries remain of great importance in terms of food security, employment, and cultural identity in Seychelles. Revenue and capacity building generated by growth of the industrial fisheries has afforded significant investment in the development and management of artisanal fisheries, and the two sub-sectors now compliment each other effectively. The rapid and parallel development of large and small-scale fisheries in Seychelles provides an informative case study for a review of marine capture fisheries management.

The Republic of Seychelles is an archipelago comprising 115 islands scattered over an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) covering 1.3 million km2 of the WIO. A population of 82 000 largely resides on Mahe, Praslin and La Digue, the three main granitic islands of a submerged mid-oceanic shelf called the Mahe Plateau. The remaining atolls, granitic and coralline islands are sparsely inhabited and most fisheries, and their management, are centralized. It is estimated that fisheries and ancillary services account for around 15 percent of total formal employment, with the tuna canning factory and a tiger prawn farm constituting the largest single employers (SFA, 2004). Typical of small-island developing states, there is a high reliance on marine resources, with Seychelles noted as having one of the highest per capita fish consumption rates in the world (FAO, 2005).

Seychelles is characterized by a wide range of marine habitats, including shallow water fringing reefs, granitic reefs, bank and plateau shelves and drop-offs, atolls, lagoons, seamounts and pelagic habitats (Jennings et al., 1999). The fisheries sector comprises the industrial, semi-industrial and artisanal fisheries sub-sectors. Purse seine and longline fisheries for tuna and tuna-like species constitute the industrial fisheries sub-sector and, in the last decade, Seychelles has developed a semi-industrial sub-sector comprising a longline fishery for swordfish and tuna (Wendling and Lucas, 2003). Artisanal fisheries have developed to exploit a high diversity of species and habitats, leading to a wide array of boat-gear combinations and strategies (Wakeford, 2000). For the purpose of this review, we base our assessment on the main artisanal fisheries that are largely distinct in terms of target species and/or gears and form logical management units. Of the 8 artisanal fisheries discussed, the semi-pelagic handline fishery, the demersal handline/dropline fisheries and the small boat trap fisheries landed the greatest weight of fish in 2003, a pattern that is usually stable across years (Azemia and Robinson, 2004).


In the late 1970s and early 1980s, fishery policy statements of the Seychelles Government were contained within the National Development Plan and/or the Public Sector Investment Programme. The first stand-alone fisheries policy document was prepared in 1986. In 2002, a revision of the policy took account of the changing nature of national fisheries. The new policy incorporated fisheries development and placed a greater emphasis on conservation aims and issues of sustainability. Policies were harmonized to promote resource sustainability. In 2005, the Ministry of Environment of Natural Resources (MENR) established a Fisheries Policy Unit (FPU) within the Ministry, in recognition of the need for Government to be more proactive and adaptive in such a dynamic sector. The FPU works in collaboration with the technical institution, the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA), on policy issues.

The main objectives (elements) of the revised fisheries policy are:


The principal legal instruments in Seychelles established the national fishing authority and provided control of fishing through the Licensing Acts (1986) and Regulations (1987), and subsequent amendments. The Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) was established by an act in 1984 and given the mandate to:

The Fisheries Act (1986) allows for management plans implemented through Regulations. The Act requires SFA to collect and analyze statistical and other information on fisheries and to prepare and keep under review plans for the development and management of fisheries. In preparing management plans, SFA, as far as possible, must consult with fishers and other relevant stakeholders, and, where practical, with regional fisheries institutions. The Act gives the Minister power to appoint enforcement officers to ensure compliance with management measures stated in the Act and Regulations. Breach of management measures is an offence under the Act and legal action ranges from fines to forfeit of vessel and gears.

Other relevant legislation includes the Maritime Zones Act (1999) which, inter alia, sets out the different limits of Seychelles maritime zones, the territorial sea, archipelagic waters, contiguous zone as well as the exclusive economic zone and the continental shelf. The Environment Protection Act (1994) serves to ensure that all development and activities, including fisheries, are subject to environmental controls. The National Parks and Nature Reserves Act (1969) provided the legal instrument to establish and manage marine protected areas for fisheries, conservation, as well as other purposes.


The fisheries sector recently surpassed tourism as the principal source of foreign exchange. The inflow generated by fisheries related activities amounted to 46.7 percent of the total earnings in 2003 (SFA, 2004). When fish processing (mainly the tuna cannery), stevedoring, harbour fees and provisioning and related activities are included, the fisheries sector contributes between 15 and 20 percent of national GDP. The major part of this contribution is from the industrial fisheries sub-sector.

Industrial fisheries

Industrial fisheries are entirely executed by foreign owned vessels licensed to fish in the Seychelles EEZ. There are two principal fisheries, namely the purse seine fishery (fleets mainly comprise EU, French and Spanish vessels) and the longline fishery (fleets mainly comprise Japanese, Taiwanese and South Korean vessels). Purse seining began in 1983 when French and Spanish fleets moved from the tropical Atlantic to the WIO. Purse seiners licensed to fish in Seychelles waters increased from 30 in 1984 to 55 in 2000. Recently, around 51 vessels have been operating in and around the EEZ on an annual basis. Industrial longline fishing activities began in the early 1950s. The number of licenses issued to longliners has increased steadily during the last 15-years, and now ranges from 165 to 241 vessels per annum.

Purse seiners mainly target surface swimming tunas like skipjack (Katsuwonus pelamis), small yellowfin (Thunnus albacares) and juvenile bigeye (Thunnus obesus). Longliners, in contrast, target large, deep swimming, bigeye and yellowfin tuna. The purse seine catch has remained fairly stable for the last 10-years, with around 98 000 tonnes of tuna caught in 2003. Skipjack has always been the predominant species, comprising 55 to 60 percent of the catch, except in 2003 when yellowfin tuna catches exceeded those of skipjack for the first time (SFA, 2004). The annual catch reported by licensed longliners in 2003 was 8 500 tonnes.

Semi-industrial fisheries

The semi-industrial longline fishery targets swordfish (Xiphias gladius), tuna and tuna-like species mostly within the Seychelles EEZ. This fishery started in 1994 as a strategy to relieve pressure on inshore demersal stocks by developing local capacity to fish for pelagic resources in deep waters off the plateau. There are 12 local vessels in the fishery ranging from 12 to 22 m (LOA) in size. Swordfish is the main target species, accounting for 60 percent of the catch, together with yellowfin (15 percent), bigeye tuna (10 percent) and several other species including shark. Annual catches range between 250 and 400 tonnes (SFA, 2004). Catches have dropped considerably since 2003 due to export difficulties (see below).

Artisanal fisheries

The total artisanal catch has remained fairly stable since 1985 with landings typically ranging between 4 000 and 5 000 tonnes per year. Of the main fisheries, the semi-pelagic handline fishery is the most important in terms of weight landed, contributing over 44 percent (1710 tonnes) to the total artisanal catch (3852 tonnes) in 2003. The value of this fishery was estimated at US$ 1.9 million in 2003. Most catches in this fishery are taken by inboard powered vessels (‘whalers’) that largely operate on the Mahe Plateau, although catches of semi-pelagic species by smaller outboard powered vessels are variable and may also be significant. The principal species are Carangoides spp., Caranx spp., Sphyraena spp., Euthynnus affinis and larger tuna species. Whaler vessels often switch fishing mode and target demersal species. Around 90 vessels have operated annually in this fishery over the last decade. The fishery is of major importance for food security, supplying a significant proportion of the country’s protein requirement at affordable prices (Mees et al. 1998).

The demersal handline/dropline fisheries are of secondary importance in weight caught. A large number of species are targeted, predominately snappers, groupers and emperors, of which Lutjanus sebae, L. bohar, Aprion virescens, Epinephelus chlorostigma and Lethrinus nebulosus are usually the most important by weight. The main fishing grounds are the offshore banks and drop-offs of the Mahe Plateau, which are fished by fully decked inboard vessels (‘schooners’). Inshore areas are also fished by small boats with outboards and whalers. A total of 1313 tonnes was landed in 2003, representing 34 percent of the total artisanal catch, valued at around US$ 2.7 million. Most of the catch is sold and consumed locally, and meets most demand from the tourism industry, although a small percentage (< 5 percent) may be exported (Azemia and Robinson, 2004). Fleet sizes for the demersal line fisheries are difficult to quantify as many of the small boats may switch to different fisheries. However, the schooner fleet is generally homogenous in gear and fishing method and the fleet consisted of 36 vessels in 2004.

The trap fishery is largely limited to inshore areas around the main granitic islands. It is mostly a small outboard boat or ‘pirogue’ (large canoe) fishery, although larger vessels (whalers and schooners) occasionally set traps as well. Traps are constructed of bamboo in a typical ‘arrowhead’ design. They are usually deployed on or near coral and granite reefs, mainly for Siganus spp., Lethrinus spp. and Epinephelus spp. A total of 427 tonnes[423] were landed in 2003, valued at around US$ 1.2 million. Of similar relative importance are the small boat net fisheries, with mackerel (Rastrelliger spp.) as the principal target species. Catches are highly variable and seasonal. A total of 221 tonnes[424] were landed in 2003 and 32 active nets were licensed (Azemia and Robinson, 2004).

Several invertebrate fisheries are important to the artisanal fisheries sub-sector, including spiny lobster, crab, octopus and sea cucumber fisheries. Most are minor in terms of catch weight but one in particular constitutes a valuable export-driven fishery. Landings of sea cucumber have increased steadily during the past decade and 137,681 pieces were taken in 2003, mainly of five species (Holothuria nobilis, H. fuscogilva, Thelenota ananas, Actinopyga mauritiana and an unidentified teatfish). Exports to SE Asian countries, notably China (Hong Kong), Singapore and Malaysia, amounted to 37.9 tonnes (approximately US$ 340 000) (Payet, 2005). The spiny lobster fishery was last opened for the November 2002 to January 2003 fishing season, with an estimated 5.4 tonnes landed. Due to the fact that the fishery is seasonal and has often been closed over the last 15-years, lobsters have to be imported to supply demand from the tourism market. The spanner crab (Ranina ranina) fishery consists of two licensed vessels that caught 17 tonnes in 2003 fishing hoop-tangle nets. The fishery is under-exploited due to limited demand. Octopus is caught by skin divers or foot fishers using harpoons and the fishery consists of commercial and subsistence elements. A total of 27 tonnes of octopus was landed in 2003 (Azemia and Robinson, 2004).


SFA is responsible for the management of all fisheries in Seychelles waters. Management of fisheries and related measures has increased over the last decade. Several fisheries were closed either because of concerns as to their economic viability or for sustainability and conservation reasons (e.g. shark gillnetting). Fisheries management has been strongly influenced by external market forces, particularly as a result of increased demand from Asian markets, i.e. sea cucumber and shark fin. Increasing entry and effort prompted concern in the sea cucumber fishery and the adoption of precautionary measures while preparing for a more comprehensive and scientific approach. A live reef fish food trade fishery in 1998 and 1999 was closely monitored by SFA and eventually closed because of the vulnerability of the target species and low economic viability. Regulations prohibiting wild caught live fish fisheries have now been adopted. A mothership-dory fishery for demersal species in the early 1990s terminated in 1993 following market constraints and localized resource depletion. A management plan exists for this fishery.

Seychelles also has an extensive marine protected area (MPA) network which contributes as closed areas and reserves. Six marine national parks are under the responsibility and management of the Seychelles Center for Marine Research Technology-Marine Parks Authority (SCMRT-MPA). SFA manages 4 shell reserves and 3 Special Nature Reserves are managed by NGOs.

Industrial fisheries

Seychelles has various regulatory mechanisms for the management of industrial fisheries. Foreign fishing vessels must be licensed to fish in the EEZ and can only target tuna and tuna-like species. Licensing can be through agreements negotiated with third countries, economic entities or with fishing entities. Licenses can also be issued directly to foreign fishing vessels whose flag State does not have a fishing agreement with Seychelles.

All foreign fishing vessels in excess of 24 m are required to be on the positive list of IOTC and be capable of responding to a satellite Vessel Monitoring System (VMS). In addition, foreign fishing vessels are required to keep up to date logbook records of fishing activities inside the Seychelles EEZ and to report their entry and exit from the Seychelles EEZ. To avoid conflict with local fisheries, nine zones are restricted to foreign fishing. SFA inspects all licensed foreign fishing vessels calling into Port Victoria and collects their catch and effort log sheets. Vessels that do not call into Port Victoria must submit their catch and effort log sheets at the end of their fishing trip.

The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) is mandated to manage tuna and tuna-like species in the Indian Ocean and adjacent seas. Seychelles is an active member of IOTC, hosts the secretariat and co-chairs annual meetings of the Commission. As a member, Seychelles provides the IOTC secretariat with a list of all foreign fishing vessels in excess of 24 m authorized to fish in the Seychelles EEZ. Fisheries statistics are submitted annually based on requirements specified under Resolution 98/01 (mandatory statistical requirement for IOTC members). These include specifications of all vessels registered in Seychelles, catch and effort statistics reported in the Seychelles EEZ and length frequency data. These data are used in stocks assessments carried out during the various annual working group parties. Seychelles also actively participates in annual Scientific Committee meetings and endeavours to implement Committee recommendations. The Seychelles also chairs meetings of the Compliance Committee.

Seychelles has developed an NPOA IUU. All Seychelles flagged vessels require authorization to fish outside the Seychelles EEZ and are required to report through VMS. Authorizations are also required for transshipments at sea and are required to submit copies of licenses for access to waters of third countries.

According to recent stock assessments, the current levels of annual catches of bigeye are considered to be close to or possibly above, MSY. In recent years, the Commission has considered limiting the amount of fishing effort for bigeye tuna. If this measure is adopted, coastal States will most likely be required to limit the number of licenses issued to foreign fishing vessels. Catches of yellowfin are also approaching levels that warrant a cautionary approach. Concerns over the status of stocks of albacore tuna and swordfish also exist as evidence suggests that current catch levels are unlikely to be sustainable in the long-term. It is recognized that there is a need to control and/or reduce effort in the albacore and swordfish fisheries. For the short-lived and highly productive skipjack tuna, levels of exploitation are below MSY.

Semi-industrial fisheries

Vessels engaged in the longline fishery require a local fishing vessel license. Relative to the foreign fishing licenses, the license fees for local longliners are extremely low. Requirements include completion of catch and effort log sheets, catches must be landed in Port Victoria, and a separate authorization is required to fish outside the Seychelles EEZ. All longliners are currently monitored by VMS, on a voluntary basis, through the SFA Fisheries Monitoring Centre (FMC). SFA is developing a plan to better regulate the activities of local longline vessels through routine port inspections.

Management and performance of the longline fishery have been subjected to severe constraints since 2003, following a nationally imposed ban on swordfish exports resulting from EU concerns over cadmium levels. This situation immediately resulted in a huge drop in catches. In an effort to remain viable, many semi-industrial longline vessels diversified their activities by targeting sharks for their fins. In early 2005, an EU revision of the acceptable level of cadmium in swordfish, from 0.05 parts per million (ppm) to 0.3 ppm, led to a resumption of targeting of swordfish and tuna. Unfortunately, the intensive fishing of sharks during the ban resulted in heightened conservation and management concerns for this vulnerable group. Concerns over the status of sharks are being addressed through the development of a National Plan of Action (NPOA), which is in the final stages of preparation. The Government is developing policy regarding the management of the shark fisheries that, amongst other issues, addresses the issue of shark finning. As a first step, legal measures have been proposed to ban shark finning on all foreign fishing vessels licensed to fish in the EEZ.

Artisanal fisheries

The main artisanal fisheries are managed and an inshore fisheries management strategy, prepared in 1998 (Mees et al., 1998), continues to guide management and research activities. The regulatory measure most widely employed is vessel licensing. A local fishing vessel license is required to engage in commercial fishing, at a cost of approximately US$ 24. A number of fisheries/gear types are prohibited in Seychelles, including demersal trawl fisheries, gillnetting for sharks, drift net fisheries and fisheries using explosives, poisons, and spear-guns.

Since 1985, the major artisanal fisheries have been monitored by a stratified catch, effort and species composition sampling system (Catch Assessment Survey, CAS). The CAS is stratified geographically and by boat and gear type. The system is composed of four boat-type surveys plus data collection from marketing companies. The four surveys are the small boat survey, the whaler handline survey, the schooner survey and the sport fishery survey, the latter based on logbooks. Trends in catch per unit effort (CPUE) and other fisheries parameters are reported annually (Azemia and Robinson, 2004). Dedicated monitoring systems are applied to the sea cucumber and lobster fisheries. Stock assessments of a few key indicator species (e.g. Lutjanus sebae, Aprion virescens, Epinephelus chlorostigma) are carried out periodically. Recent assessments are lacking for lobsters and many important trap fishery species, and no assessments have been conducted on target species of the semi-pelagic handline fishery, or on mackerel and sharks. A lack of human capacity is often prohibitive to regular stock assessment.

Entry to the semi-pelagic handline fishery and the demersal handline/dropline fisheries is not currently limited and there are no regulations regarding gear, minimum size or output. Despite periodic declines in catches of the main target species (e.g. Carangoides spp., Sphyraena spp.), which may correspond to ocean-climate anomalies, the semi-pelagic handline fishery is considered stable. In terms of the demersal handline fishery, declines in CPUE for important groups, such as groupers and emperors, point to an increasingly over-exploited resource base in near-shore areas (Grandcourt and Cesar, 2003). Fleet over-capacity is as a major contributory factor, with around 250 vessels in the small boat fleet all operating within 10 nautical miles of the inner granitic islands. In recent years, many schooners have predominately targeted Lutjanus sebae on the Mahe Plateau and demersal catches from more remote banks and atolls have declined. Moreover, whaler vessels are increasingly targeting demersal rather than semi-pelagic species. Stocks of Lutjanus sebae are fully exploited and there is a need for management measures to reduce the risk of over-exploitation.

Regulatory measures in the small boat trap fishery include vessel licensing and a minimum mesh size restriction (40 mm). SFA conducts regular patrols of the coastal waters to monitor compliance with mesh size restrictions and has undertaken educational programmes to sensitize trap makers on the importance of the measure. Non-compliance normally results in seizure and destruction of traps. Fisheries data for the trap fisheries is collected through the CAS small boat survey. Catch rates for the main target species (Siganus sutor) fluctuate between years but appear stable on longer time scales. A local fishing vessel license and a fishing net license are required for entry to the small boat net fisheries. Fishing net licenses are issued annually and cost approximately US$ 20. All nets must be marked with a license number and it is an offence for anyone to interfere with the tag.

The spiny lobster fishing season falls between November and January but the fishery has been closed since the end of the 2002/2003 season due to indications of resource depletion, with CPUE declining from 15 kg/trip over the 2001/2002 season to 11.5 kg/trip over the 2002/2003 season (Isidore and Payet, 2003). When open, several regulatory measures are applied to the fishery including limited entry, a comparatively large license fee (c. US$ 95), minimum size restrictions (75 mm carapace length) and a ban on harvesting berried females. A monitoring and surveillance programme is implemented during any open season to collect fisheries, biological and compliance data. Despite sensitization programmes and pressure on buyers (mostly restaurants), illegal fishing for lobsters is a major problem.

Several artisanal fisheries are not subject to any regulatory measures, or are poorly managed. The octopus fishery is not managed and the relative importance of the recreational fisheries is unknown. Despite efforts to collect fisheries data from the sport fishery through a logbook system, compliance has been low and there are few indicators regarding the status of the fishery.


The costs of marine resources management have largely been borne by the Government. As a parastatal organization and the executive arm of the Government for most fisheries activities, SFA receives state revenue budgets. Annual budgets have risen since 2000 to meet the increasing need for investment in fisheries management, research, development, and training (Table 1).

A participatory approach to the management of the sea cucumber fishery

In terms of catch sizes, the sea cucumber fishery in Seychelles is small compared to most other artisanal fisheries but it constitutes a valuable export driven fishery. The fishery has undergone rapid development over the last eight years due to increased demand for bêche-de-mer on international markets. Taking into account the experiences from other countries, where sea cucumber fisheries have collapsed due to overfishing and lack of regulation, this trend heightened concerns regarding the sustainability of the fishery. Since 1999, SFA has adopted a precautionary approach with regards to this fishery, introducing a licensing system for both fishers and processing. A quota of 25 fishing licenses was introduced, pending the results of stock assessments. Conditions within the licenses limit the number of divers to 4 and makes reporting catch and effort compulsory. In late 2003, SFA instigated a sea cucumber stock assessment and management project. A major objective was to develop a participatory approach to management of the fishery. Although stakeholders have been informed and consulted as part of decision-making processes in the past, fisheries management in Seychelles has ultimately been characterized by a top-down approach. However, fishing organizations and institutions have developed in recent years and are increasingly active in fisheries issues and management.

The stock assessment took place in 2003 and 2004 and estimates of current biomass and TAC have been derived. Results have been disseminated to stakeholders and socio-economic surveys conducted. Management options have been discussed with stakeholders, their views incorporated and a management plan developed. Management will be steered by a management committee comprising representatives of the main stakeholder groups, including boat-owners, divers, processors and exporters of sea cucumbers.

This process marks the first time that a fishery management plan has fully incorporated a participatory approach. It is hoped that this development will serve as a model for greater stakeholder participation in the management of other fisheries (Payet, 2005).

Recurrent SFA annual budgets for the period 2000 to 2003






Budget (US $'000)

1 400

1 366

1 572

1 700

In 2003, the SFA budget constituted 0.7 percent of the total national budget. In addition to recurrent budget, SFA also receives funds under the Seychelles/EU fishing agreement for projects (FMC), and grants for specific research and management activities may also contribute to management costs. Fisheries management costs are supported by the Seychelles Coastguard, which has the mandate for maritime surveillance and safeguarding of marine resources in the EEZ.

There are several different sources of state revenues from fishing and related activities, including the manufacturing sector (tuna cannery), exports, and also revenue from industrial tuna fishery vessels (transshipment fees etc.). In terms of resource rent, licensing of foreign fishing vessels to fish in the Seychelles EEZ is by far the major source of revenue. In 2003, the Government accrued US$ 7.884 million from foreign vessels engaged in fishing, which includes financial compensation from the EU (US$ 1.31 million) and licenses fees paid by purse seiners and longliners. Revenue is also accrued by Government through fines for breach of fisheries legislation and local fishery license fees. In 2003, local fishery license fees totaled US$ 8 570, a value that is typical of most years. The recurrent SFA budget for 2003 constituted 21.5 percent of resource rent revenue. Given that fisheries is the most important sector in terms of foreign exchange earnings and that fisheries revenue is essential for the support of other sectors, this relatively large reinvestment underlines Government commitment to fisheries management and other related activities.

International legal instruments to which Seychelles is a signatory

Short Title

Long Title

Straddling/Highly Migratory Fish Stocks Agreement

Conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks

Nairobi Convention

Convention for the protection, management, and development of the marine and coastal environment of the eastern African region


Convention on biological diversity


Common market for Eastern and Southern Africa


Convention on international trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora

Basel Convention

Convention on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal

IMO Convention

Convention on the international maritime organization

London Dumping Convention

Convention on the prevention of marine pollution by dumping of wastes and other matter

Cotonou I

Fifth ACP - EEC Convention


Safety of life at sea


Indian Ocean tuna commission

MARPOL 73/78

International convention for the prevention of pollution from ships


International convention on oil pollution preparedness, response and cooperation


Montreal protocol for the protection of the ozone layer


United Nations Convention on the law of the sea


United Nations framework convention on climate change

Compliance Agreement

United Nations compliance agreement


Seychelles has signed or ratified a number of international conventions and also abides to the various voluntary codes of the FAO. These relate to both the domestic and industrial fisheries. International and regional obligations are becoming increasingly important with issues such as illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, incidental catch of seabirds on longlines, management of sharks and fishing capacity becoming global concerns.

Seychelles ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1991. The FAO Compliance Agreement was ratified in 1994 and the UN Fish Stocks Agreement (UNFSA) in 1998. Numerous amendments have been made to the Fisheries Act (1986) and Regulations to provide the legal framework for Seychelles to discharge its responsibilities under the Convention and agreements. Under the Convention, Seychelles is defined as a coastal State, a port State and a flag State. In terms of coastal State responsibilities, various studies have been conducted in Seychelles to determine MSY for most economically important species of finfish. With regards to the highly migratory tuna stocks, rights of exploitation are allocated to distant water fishing nations through licensing arrangements. As a port State, Seychelles does not allow its ports to be used by fishing vessels that are known to be engaged in IUU fishing. As a flag State, Seychelles only registers vessels that target tuna and tuna-like species in the Indian Ocean. These obligations will be actioned through the NPOA IUU. Seychelles is also a party to other Conventions relevant to fisheries management (Table 2). Seychelles is implementing the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries in a step-wise manner that is largely dictated by human and financial constraints.


Seychelles is a member of IOTC and several Regional Economic Organizations (e.g. COMESA, COI) that address fisheries issues. Seychelles attaches much importance is attached to tuna fisheries in the WIO as shown through its commitment to hosting IOTC. All relevant resolutions of the Commission are being implemented, including the provision of catch and effort statistics, specifications of vessels registered in Seychelles that are authorized to operate in the IOTC Convention Area, and participation in research initiatives. Seychelles also cooperates with the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) and the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR).

Seychelles is also a member of the South West Indian Ocean Fisheries Commission (SWIOFC), an advisory FAO body with a mandate to promote the sustainable development and utilization of (non-tuna) fishery resources in coastal waters of the region. The Commission is responsible for promoting sound fisheries management and enhancing regional cooperation on fisheries policies. Seychelles is also actively participating in negotiations for the establishment of the Southern Indian Ocean Fisheries Agreement (SIOFA). The Agreement focuses on regional cooperation on high seas fishing of non-tuna and tuna-like resources. The objectives of SIOFA are to ensure the long-term conservation and sustainable use of the fishery resources in the Southern Indian Ocean through enhanced cooperation between the Contracting Parties. The Agreement will also place much emphasis on the needs of developing States and small-island developing States bordering the area covered by the Agreement.

Seychelles is currently assessing its affiliation to all international organizations on a cost benefit basis.


Capture fisheries in Seychelles have developed substantially over the last 20 years, particularly industrial fisheries, and the sector is now of paramount importance to the country. Fisheries policy and legislation have been revised and strengthened to cope with national and international responsibilities for sustainable and equitable development and conservation of marine resources. Most fisheries are now actively managed with a broad range of regulatory measures mostly centred on vessel licensing. However, it is only in the industrial fisheries that effort controls are applied through license limitation. With the exception of a few high value invertebrate fisheries, most artisanal fisheries remain open access and excess fishing effort, especially in inshore areas, has led to localized over-exploitation. Government efforts to redistribute effort to the lightly exploited offshore grounds have not met with much success (Wakeford, 2000) and there is a need to reassess the management regimes for most artisanal fisheries.

Seychelles fisheries are increasingly vulnerable to rapid change as a result of external factors (e.g. sea cucumber markets, the shark finning and conservation, cadmium levels and seafood consumption as a health issue), and management activity must become more responsive and adaptable. Management plans under development for high value species may serve as a model for other artisanal fisheries, particularly in increasing the role of stakeholders in the management process. Although not currently utilized, there is good potential for rights-based approaches to management, particularly for inshore trap fisheries (Mees et al., 1998). The use of ecosystem-based approaches to fisheries management is a possible tool to rehabilitate exploited populations. For example, several measures, including closed areas, are being evaluated for the protection of reef fish spawning aggregations (Robinson et al., 2004). In addition to development of new management regimes, enforcement, monitoring and assessment need to be strengthened.

With the economy so firmly based on marine resources, Government, fishery managers and stakeholders will need to be increasingly proactive and decisive as the upper limits to resource exploitation are approached, in order to ensure long-term sustainability and reverse localized over-exploitation where this occurs.


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SFA. 2004. Seychelles Fishing Authority. Annual Report for 2003. Victoria, Seychelles, SFA 2004.

Wendling, B. & Lucas, V. 2003. Evolution of the swordfish longline fishery (Xiphias gladius) operating in the Western Indian Ocean from Seychelles. In: 3rd Working Party on Billfish, November 10-14th 2003, Australia, 15 p.

Wakeford, R.C. 2000. Management of the Seychelles Artisanal Fishery. PhD Thesis. Faculty of Science, Imperial College, University of London. 2000. 377p.

[423] Mixed line and trap catches excluded from total.
[424] Only mackerel species are included in total.

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