Spanish tuna vessel assists Seychelles fishermen in distress, two boats still missing
Some typical fishing boats docked in the Seychelles main port of Victoria (Patrick Joubert, Seychelles News Agency)
A Seychelles fishing boat called Prosperity, which sent out a distress call on Monday morning after encountering mechanical difficulties, was saved from disaster by a Spanish-flagged tuna boat which was in the vicinity.
The boat was fishing north of Mahé, the main island of the Seychelles, with two fishermen on board when it reportedly experienced engine failure.
"The boat is picking up its [fishing] lines and then will return to Mahé, which will take more than 12 hours," said the Director General of the Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration (SMSA) Captain Joachim Valmont.
Despite the rescue of the Prosperity, two other fishing boats are still missing in Seychelles waters since the beginning of June, the Marylaure and Haifa Junior. The Seychelles Coast Guard have last week launched operations involving both aircraft and patrol vessels to find the two missing boats.
The Marylaure departed on Wendesday June 3 with four people on board, and the Haifa Junior departed Mahe on Saturday June 6 with a crew of two people.
Since the beginning of June, the Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, entered the southeast monsoon season, which often results in high winds and rough seas, and this is likely to continue until October .
This makes boat trips much more dangerous for local fishermen.
The owners of both missing vessels informed the maritime authorities of the absence of their boats after discovering that they had not come back by their scheduled return dates.
Captain Valmont explained that aboard both boats, the maritime surveillance system was not working and that this made it more difficult for search and rescue teams to locate them.
The Haifa, which belongs to Jacob William, was out fishing south of Mahé, while the Marylaure, owned by Bernard Loiseau, was had headed north of Mahé.
"This is the first time that three boats were in a situation of distress [at the same time]; this puts a lot of pressure on the coastguards who are forced to stop an operation to get to another," said Captain Valmont.
The Maritime Authority asked all Seychellois fishermen heading out to sea to take all necessary precautions to avoid danger and asked them to ensure their maritime surveillance systems were in good working order to be more easily located in case of problems.
Last year in June, a fishing boat with two people on board, Francois Meriton and Don Hoareau was reported missing, and it has still not been found.