Seychellois entrepreneurs who want to venture into aquaculture locally can now partner with foreigners as long as the citizen of the island nation holds at least 51 percent share of the business, said a fisheries officer.
The principal aquaculture officer at the Seychelles Fishing Authority, Aubrey Lesperance, told SNA recently that he and his team have relooked at the initial decision to reserve certain aqua-cultural zones strictly for Seychellois.
“We realized that we couldn’t restrict local operators as aquaculture is not something that many people know about at the moment. We relaxed the regulation with regards to joint ventures when a partnership is established with foreigners. There are certain zones by the coast zero to two kilometers offshore that had been reserved for Seychellois only. We then realized that if we limit this, it will prevent them from getting the capacity that will help them launch their business,” said Lesperance.
He added that as long as a Seychellois has a 51 percent share in the business, they can partner with foreigners.
“Other zones further out at sea will require more investments and infrastructures and we envision that foreign companies will venture into them better. We need to look at how we can bring foreign direct investment into our economy,” continued Lesperance.
The broad term ‘aquaculture’ refers to the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of animals and plants in all types of water environments including ponds, rivers, lakes, and the ocean.
Aquaculture is managed and regulated by SFA, however, for the past 30 years there were no regulations governing this sector. In the fisheries act that governs both regulations, there was just a small part on aquaculture and for the past years, the authority has been working on such a regulation.
The final draft of the regulation for aquaculture which was approved in September by the Cabinet of Ministers is at the Attorney General’s office where slight changes are being made. Following the completion of this work and approval of Cabinet of Ministers, the document will be signed by the fisheries ministers and gazetted.
Once the regulation comes into force in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, SFA will formally launch the industry and the public will get instructions on how to apply. No date has been given as there are still many uncertainties as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of investment for entrepreneurs.
“There are more than 15 individuals who have shown interest in aquaculture. We are not taking any formal application at the moment as it is the regulation that will give SFA the power and mandate to start processing the applications so that they can have a license to operate,” said Lesperance.
A committee will look at applications when the regulation comes into force.
In the next five years, SFA will follow the industry closely. The government will evaluate the number of investors and operators in the industry and once the licence cap is reached, it will be decided if the number of licenses will increase or not.