The Seychelles Fisheries Authority (SFA) is discussing new approaches to deter illegal fishing in its waters after a third Sri Lankan vessel was intercepted last week, the Seychelles News Agency quoted a top official as saying.
“The new approach will see the government of both countries discussing common ground to deter these illegal activities from taking place in the Seychelles’ waters,” SFA’s interim chief executive, Cyril Bonnelame, told SNA.
Bonnelame said that discussions started in the past but nothing came out of it and now that “these activities are becoming more frequent, we need to put something together to take action.”
The Sri Lankan High Commission in Seychelles told SNA it was not immediately in a position to comment in more details about the discussions.
Three Sri Lankan-registered fishing boats have been intercepted by the Seychelles Coast Guard on suspicion of illegal fishing this year. The third vessel was intercepted earlier this week as a result of coordinated maritime operations which have been stepped up as part of the national plan to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Bonnelame said that the cases of two previous vessels are still in court.
The illegal activities are also having a financial impact on Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean.
“All these procedures of going to court, giving the detainees food and repatriating them are very costly for the country. Therefore, we need to find ways to deter the activity from happening in the first place if we do not want to incur the cost that comes with it,” he said.
Seychelles has a vast Exclusive Economic Zone of 1.4 million square kilometres which presents a challenge when it comes to the monitoring of illegal activities in its waters.