Compensation talks for Seychellois fishermen aboard Spanish, French vessels underway
The issue of compensation of Seychellois seamen on EU flagged vessels among other subjects were discussed during the first meeting of the Joint Committee on March 3-4. (File photo: Joe Laurence, Seychelles News Agency)
(Seychelles News Agency) - Discussions have begun over the compensation from the European Union (EU) due to Seychellois seamen on EU-flagged tuna vessels pending since 2005.
The terms are expected to be settled in April.
The Minister for Fisheries and Blue Economy told journalists on Saturday that he is both sad and angry as Seychelles has done its part to ensure that the payments are made as "he was pushing for a conclusion in the compensation for the seamen, who have been waiting for too long."
Jean-François Ferrari said the issue of the compensation and other components of the new EU-Seychelles Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement 2020-2026 were discussed during the first meeting of the Joint Committee on March 3-4.
The aim of the Zoom meeting between the EU and Seychelles was to review the implementation of the first year of application of the new Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPA) and its six years implementing protocol and to discuss mechanisms to strengthen their cooperation and common efforts towards sustainable fisheries.
According to Ferrari, the compensation is a long outstanding issue for payment of compensation for Seychellois seamen for past embarkations on vessels under the SFPA's of the previous protocols. The minister added that Seychelles' delegation had delivered all records and information on this outstanding issue to the European Union.
"There is one point that was fundamental and that was the compensation for our mariners. We did all we can and I can say that I am quite angry and a bit sad, because we, on the Seychelles side, did everything for us to be able to give the compensation by the end of the first quarter of 2021, that is the end of March" explained Ferrari.
The minister said that he is in constant contact with these seamen and their families – as some of them have since passed away – to keep them informed on their dues.
Ferrari said that he wants to make it clear that the delay in the payments is not Seychelles' fault and added that he felt that the European Union had let them down.
"So the work continues and I hope that very soon I can see the joy on the faces of the seamen who have been waiting for a long time," added Ferrari, who said that the delay is caused by bureaucracy within the EU and its 27 member states.
One such mariner is Jolfa Louise, whom SNA spoke to on Saturday. Louise explained that there around 60 seamen who had worked or are still working on Spanish and French tuna vessels and are waiting for their compensation.
"Compensation from 1984 to 2004 were settled back in 2005. What is outstanding now is the payment from 2005," said Louise, who added that this is only part of the compensation due.
"There will be two more payments due this has to do with leave and pension, but we need to resolve this first compensation," explained Louise.
The new SFPA and its protocol signed in February 2020 represents a key milestone of the long-standing bilateral cooperation in fisheries between the EU and Seychelles, and of their joint commitment to promote sustainable and transparent use of marine resources both in the Seychelles waters and in the Indian Ocean region.
In his keynote address, the EU Ambassador to Seychelles Vincent Degert said "the SFPA with Seychelles is "our" agreement, of both the EU and Seychelles, as it has at its core our common values and principles — such as respect, transparency, rules of the law, decisions guided by science — as well as our shared vision towards sustainable fisheries beyond Seychelles waters".
Each year for the entire duration of the Protocol, a financial contribution of €2.8 million (around $3.3 million) by the EU is specifically earmarked to promote the sustainable management of fisheries in Seychelles, as well as to support the development of small-scale fisheries.
The EU-SEY Protocol allows the EU fleet (40 tuna purse-seiners and eight long-liners) to fish in Seychelles waters for six years while continuing to support the sustainable development of the fisheries sector in the Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean.