Group to study COVID’s effects on fishing industry across Indian Ocean
The federation of associations regrouping artisanal fishermen from the Indian Ocean Commission has launched a study to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on their activities, said the chairman.
Keith Andre said that “each country has its own specificity and although the challenges might be the same they can also differ in both nature and intensity, which is why to get a very clear picture.”
Virginie Lagarde from PESKEP Consultancy will conduct the study aimed at giving a clearer picture of the status of artisanal fisheries in the region.
Andre is the chairman of the Federation since its inception in 2015. The Federation regroups associations from Mauritius, Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius and Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
The association met in a virtual annual general meeting recently to discuss the way forward and launch the study at the same time.
Andre said that the study will also look at how to move forward with the reality of COVID-19 still present especially in the case of Seychelles, where artisanal fisheries have suffered a huge blow from the pandemic.
“Like other industries when the pandemic hit we felt the adverse effect. With tourism on the brink, we also lost the biggest bulk market for our products, as hotels used to buy large quantities of fish for their restaurant needs. With less tourists in the country, the demand for our fish fell, while with the fall in the value of the rupee, our operational costs skyrocketed,” he said.
Six local fishermen associations participated in the virtual meeting.
From their perspective, the fishermen felt that while there were some efforts made by the authorities last year to assist them, it took a while before they could receive assistance under the Financial Assistance for Jobs Retention FA4JR set up by the previous government.
“This was a help to those who did apply, but as the application form itself was very complex it deterred a lot of fishermen from applying. With this study, we will be able to see what each country went through and from there we can also see how each addressed the issue, learn from each other’s experiences and come out with a common strategy for a way forward,” said Andre.