Compared to capture fisheries that have considerably progressed with the development of industrial tuna fisheries, the aquaculture sector in Seychelles is quite small in terms of importance and has been most exclusively centered around three projects: prawn farm, pearl oyster farm and giant clam farm.
The main pieces of legislation regulating the fisheries and aquaculture sector in Seychelles are the Fisheries Act (1986), as amended in 2001 and the Fisheries Regulations (1987), as amended in 2007.
The Fisheries Act outlines a general framework for the regulation of fishing and aquaculture and applies to aquatic organism defined as “any aquatic plant or animal with the exception of birds, and includes any fish, crustacean, mollusk, coral, echinoderm, holothurians, or aquatic reptile or aquatic mammal and its shell, eggs and other naturally occurring products” . The fishing activity means “fishing, for, catching, taking or killing fish or other aquatic organisms by any method and includes searching for fish and placing any fishing aggregating device” .
The Fisheries Act makes provisions for the establishment of plans for the management and development of fisheries. The Minister for Investment, Natural Resources and Industry (who has been the Minister responsible for Fisheries since mid-2010) may make regulations prescribing measures for the proper management of fisheries by prohibiting fishing methods, species and other characteristics of aquatic organism .
Regarding licensing and control, a specific provision referring to aquaculture states that the Minister for Investment, Natural Resources and Industry “may make regulations for the licensing and control of aquaculture in any part of Seychelles or Seychelles waters” .
The Fisheries Regulations implement the Fisheries Act and contain specific provisions dealing with aquaculture concessions .
The competent national institution responsible for administering the Fisheries Act is the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA). The SFA is a parastatal organization which functions as the Executive arm of Government for fisheries and aquaculture. The Authority was created in 1984 by the Seychelles Fishing Authority Establishment Act.
The SFA’s operations are guided by a Board of Directors, appointed by the President of the Republic of Seychelles.
The SFA’s functions are to promote fisheries, fishing industries and fishing resources in Seychelles; to assist in the formulation of the national policy with respect to fishing .
In this respect, the Fisheries Act indicates that “SFA shall collect and analyse statistical and other information on fisheries . Every person engaged in fishing, related activities or aquaculture shall supply such information regarding such activities in such form as the SFA may require” .
Then, at a national level, the Seychelles Bureau of Standards (SBS) is a government regulatory agency established in 1987 under the SBS Act and is divided into several units. Its main functions are to develop and promote Seychelles standards for products, processes and practices that are needed in all sectors of the economy and for the protection of the environment; provide a system of certification services; maintain a national information centre in matters of standardization, industry science and technology.
Concerning fish in general, the Code of Practice for handling and storage of fish can be found. Concerning the evaluation of fish and shellfish, there are Guidelines for the sensory evaluation of fish and shellfish in laboratories.
Concerning prawns (the prawn being the first aquaculture species in terms of importance for the country), a Standard Specification for canned prawn has been issued and is the adoption of the standard CXS 37 published by the Codex Alimentarius Commission of the FAO. This Standard applies to canned prawns in hermetically sealed containers and shall have received a processing treatment sufficient to ensure commercial sterility. Canned prawn is the product prepared from any combination of the species of the families Penaeidae, Pandalidae, Crangonidae and Palaemonidae.
The Standard covers a description of the product and process, the essential composition and quality factors, food additives, hygiene and handling, labeling, methods of analysis and sampling.
Seychelles ratified the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1992 and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety in 2004 .
Seychelles also ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992 and the Kyoto Protocol in 2002 .
The country is also a member of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) which provides a list of diseases that shall be notified to the Organization. This list mentions specific diseases related to crustacean and mollusk. Nevertheless, no national legislation dealing with crustacean and mollusc diseases was found.
However, Seychelles is not a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) but acts as an observer .
At a regional level, Seychelles is a contracting party to the Nairobi Convention for the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Western Indian Ocean adopted in 1985 and amended in 2010.
According to the Fisheries Act, “the Minister may make regulations requiring a licence for: (a) any kind of fishing, with or without the use of a vessel”. Moreover, “the Minister may make regulations further providing for the licensing and control of aquaculture in any part of Seychelles or Seychelles waters” .
Concerning authorization system to engage in and set up an aquaculture facility, the Licences Act (1987) is a general act stating that “no person shall (a) engage in or carry any activity, profession, trade or business specified in Schedule 1; (b) keep, use or possess any animal, goods, vehicles or vessels specified in Schedule 2; or (c) keep or manage any premises specified in Schedule 3, except under and in accordance with a licence granted by the Authority” .
Consequently, to set up an aquaculture facility in Seychelles, first, a licence is required and is granted by the SFA.
So as to implement the Fisheries Act, the Licences Fisheries Regulations were issued in 1987. The Licences Fisheries Regulations state that “an application for a licence when required under section 11 of the Fisheries Act, 1986 [...] shall be in the form provided by the” SFA . The licence authorizes any person to conduct any kind of fishing or related activity. It is also specified that “a licence shall not be transferred except with the written permission of the SFA” .
In order to set up aquaculture facilities, the Fisheries Regulations request that “the limits of every aquaculture concession shall be marked with buoys so as to be readily discernable from both the shore and the sea” .
Secondly, under the Environment Protection Act (1994), before implementing an aquaculture facility, the interested person needs to obtain an authorization to establish the facility, after having led an environmental impact assessment.
So as to promote fisheries and aquaculture in the country, the Seychelles have established incentives through the Agriculture and Fisheries Incentives Act in 2005 and its regulations in 2007. The Agriculture and Fisheries Incentives Act defines an exporter as “a person engaged in the export of agricultural products or fish, fish products and other marine products as the case may be”; and a processor “in relation to fisheries, a person engaged in the transformation of fish and other marine products by a process of adding value” . The people enjoying incentives are, for instance, entitled to business tax and fuel concessions.
The recipient shall be registered for the purpose of the Agriculture and Fisheries Incentives Act by the Ministry responsible for Fisheries. Such registration shall be in addition to any other registration, licence or authorization required by any other law for a person to engage in the activity for which incentives are granted under the aforementioned Act .
The authority responsible for access to water is the Public Utilities Corporation (PUC) which is a government owned corporate body responsible for providing the islands of Seychelles with electricity, water and sewerage services. PUC was created in 1985 under the Public Utilities Corporation Act and has water resources under its jurisdiction .
The Water & Sewerage Division of the PUC is responsible for providing reliable and safe supply of water.
The Rivers Committee is responsible for water abstraction rights under the PUC Act. It discusses national problems and decides on any development in irrigation and potable water. The legal framework adopted is that water is a public domain and thus its uses need to be controlled so that there is an equitable distribution of this resource. The Rivers Committee is made up of members from the Water and Sewage Division of the PUC, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Land Use and Habitat, and the Ministry of Industry and Natural Resources.
Moreover, the Environment Protection Act (1994) states that the Authority as established under this Act shall take into consideration the most beneficial use and value for public water supplies, propagation of fish, recreational purposes, agricultural, industrial and other legitimate uses .
Concerning access to land, the State Land and River Reserves Act (1903 and as revised in 1991) declares that State land may be sold by the President, with the exception of river reserves, where such reserves belong to the Republic .
According to the Coast Reserves and Foreshore Leases Act (1907 and as revised in 1991), the President may grant leases to the owners of island or parts thereof, and to lessees of State lands in Seychelles of the reserves along the sea coast . Such leases shall not be granted for more than ten (10) years, but may be renewed for further periods of ten (10) years with the approval of the President .
If any reclamation has to be made, the complaining person has to follow the rules prescribed in the Land Reclamation Act of 1961, as revised.
Finally, there is the Removal of Sand and Gravel Act (1982) which prohibits the abstraction of any sand or gravel or removal of abstracted sand or gravel without an abstraction licence to be granted by the Controller of Sands. The abstraction licence may be granted “for the abstraction and removal of either or both sand or gravel from part of the public domain” .
In this respect, the Environment Protection Impact Assessment Regulations (1996) state that aquaculture is a category of project that requires an authorization before the beginning of the execution of the project.
Before implementing an aquaculture project, the interested person has first to carry out an environmental impact assessment study that, if approved by the Authority , will lead to an environmental authorization to execute the project.
In order to receive the authorization, the EIA shall describe the original state of the environment prior to implementation of the project; mention the location and size of the project; the purpose of the project; the direct and indirect effects that the aquaculture activity is likely to have on fauna and flora, water, land, landscape; plan any measure which may avoid, prevent, mitigate or remedy the likely effects of the project on the environment .
Before any project or activity, like aquaculture, is allowed to discharge any effluent into the environment it has to obtain authorization from the Ministry of Environment, and for authorization to be granted the quality of waste water coming from the activity must match the standards put in place by the Authority through the Environment Protection Standards Regulations (1995). Samples are then collected from the waste water treatment system of the activity and tested by the laboratory to assess compliance.
No person shall, without an authorization from an authority, discharge any effluent or throw, deposit or place any polluting or hazardous substance or waste or any obstructing matter into any water course or in the territorial waters .
Implementation of the laws and regulations is imperative to ensure that all waters are protected.
Concerning marine pollution, the Maritime Zones Marine Pollution Regulations (1981, and as revised in 1991) provide that a person who has originated land-based or ship-based pollution of oil or oil mixture, may have to pay the costs occurred in “restoring an animal, bird or other wildlife affected by the oil” . This provision could apply if species bred or farmed for aquaculture purposes have been affected by the oil pollution.
The Act indicates that a person shall not use, operate or be in charge of an establishment or a factory vessel except under and in accordance with a permit granted under the Act by the Director of Veterinary Services .
In case the holder of the permit has failed to maintain the quality of the fisheries products intended for export, the Director may suspend or revoke the permit.
However, aquaculture species may escape and colonize natural ecosystems but no legislation dealing with fish movement inside the country, from one place to another, was found.
The Environment Protection Act states that “no person shall handle or cause to be handled any hazardous substance except in accordance with such procedures and after complying with such safe guards as may be prescribed. Handling, in relation to any substance, means the manufacture, processing, treatment, package, storage, transportation, importation, use, collection, destruction, conversion, offering for sale, transfer or the like of a substance” .
The Environment Protection Standards Regulations mention the maximum of chemicals acceptable in an effluent from an industry, operation or process so it applies to aquaculture operations.
The Food Act Sanitation Regulations of 1992 specify that the use of pesticides in a food plant or on grounds around the plant is done “under such precautions and restrictions as to prevent the contamination of food, packaging materials, utensils or equipment at the plant” .
It is worth mentioning that Part V- Vaccines and Drugs of the Animals Diseases and Imports Act refers to the control of import and use of vaccines and drugs. However, as mentioned before, this Act does not apply to fish or to crustaceans.
Finally, the Pesticides Control Act of 1996 contains provisions dealing with chemicals but also with feed stuff as detailed below.
To be able to resort to pesticide, a permit is required and the pesticides listed in Schedule 1 of the Act are registered. Schedule 1 lists pesticides used in plant protection but also ectoparasiticides for veterinary use.
A specific provision deals with transport: “No person shall transport any pesticide in a vehicle transporting a commodity for human or animal consumption” .
Moreover, concerning the preparation and sale of food, “any person who sells, prepares, packages, stores or displays for sale any food under insanitary conditions, whereby the food may be contaminated with filth or may be rendered unfit for human consumption, is guilty of an offence” .
In order to control the food, the Food Act states that the Minister of Health may designate a laboratory to be an official laboratory for the purpose of the Act (for instance, the Food Chemistry Laboratory that is a unit of the SBS).
The Food Act Sanitation Regulations (1992) lay down rules relative to hygiene in the food production chain and stress on food hygiene, meaning that measures to ensure the safety and wholesomeness of food at all stages from its growth, harvesting, production, manufacture until its final consumption shall be taken. These regulations aim at ensuring hygiene in food plants, defined as the building or any part thereof used for or in connection with the preparation, packaging, storing or sale of food , so a food plant could be, for instance, a cold store where prawns are stored.
A person shall not use a food plant unless the water supply to the premises is derived from an adequate source, the drainage of effluent is made through an adequate sewerage system. Products should be disposed so as to prevent waste which might attract breeding places for micro-organisms or pests .
All operations relating to the reception, inspection, handling, segregation, preparation, processing, storing and transport of raw material or food are conducted in a hygienic manner .
The Food Act General Labelling Regulations (1992) provide that a label applied to food shall carry for instance the common name of the food, the weight, any additive added and the country of origin .
Regarding specifically fish products, under the Export of Fishery Products Act of 1996, a person who uses, operates or is in charge of an establishment (defined as any premises where fishery products intended for export are prepared, processed, chilled, frozen, packaged or stored but does not include any auction or wholesale market where fishery products are only displayed and sold by wholesale) first needs a permit granted by the Director of Veterinary Services .
Then, the person also needs a health certificate delivered by the authorized officer as defined by the Act. The authorized officer may take samples of the fishery products to ensure quality of the fish product and compliance with the permit issued, issue health certificates certifying that fishery products are fit for export . A holder of a permit granted under this Act who exports or attempts to export any fishery product without a health certificate issued in respect of that product is guilty of an offence .
In conformity with the Export of Fishery Sanitary Regulations of 2006, all approved fish exporting establishments, factory, freezer vessels and other fishing vessels and personnel engaged in the business of export of fish or fishery products shall abide by all operational and managerial requirements relating to that business as prescribed by the Codex Alimentarius of the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization .
Environment Protection (Impact Assessment) Regulations (1996)
Nairobi Convention for the Protection, Management and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Western Indian Ocean