Seychelles-flagged purse seiners returning to port after reaching yellowfin tuna quota
Ten out of 13 tuna purse seiners fishing under the flag of Seychelles have stopped operations for 2021 after having reached their allocated yellowfin tuna quota for the year, a top fisheries official said.
The chief fisheries officer at the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA), Vincent Lucas, told SNA on Thursday that usually vessels start reaching their limit towards the end of October or beginning of November, but this is vessel specific as they each manage their quota differently.
Some foreign-flagged vessels, more specifically the Spanish and French, have also stopped their operations, said Lucas.
Mandated to manage the fisheries of Seychelles, the authority is closely monitoring the remaining vessels to ensure that they stop all fishing operations once their quotas are reached.
In a previous interview with SNA, Lucas said that as long as foreign companies are not fishing once they have reached their quota, they are free to do whatever their flagged state authorises them to do.
“Some chose to do their major service during the stoppage and go to dry-docking in Mauritius or Madagascar, while some remain in Seychelles and undertake minor routine servicing on equipment,” said Lucas.
Fishing operations are expected to resume as of January 1 once quotas are reinstated. Some vessels will leave port as early as December 28 to be able to start operations as the New Year rolls in.
Lucas outlined that in 2022, Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, was supposed to have a quota allocation of 38,881 tonnes of yellowfin tuna but this will not be the case.
“Due to payback for over catch in 2019 and 2020, the allocation for 2022 is 34,917 tonnes,” explained Lucas.
Earlier in 2021, the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) relooked at the allocation mechanism for the species through adopting a new resolution to be effective next year.
“The decision was taken to allocate quota per country rather than to specific fleet as it was done previously. Therefore for 2022, in accordance with resolution 21/01, Seychelles will be allocated a quota that will then have to be distributed to the industrial longliners, industrial purse seiners and the local semi-industrial small scale fresh tuna longliners,” said Lucas.
He added that it will be up to Seychelles to decide how the quota will be attributed to the different fleets and that Resolution 21/01 also takes into account catches from artisanal fisheries that were not considered by design in the superseded versions of this resolution.