- Seychelles longliner fishermen will now go more for tuna instead of swordfish, the government today announced. Tuna remains the most important export product from the Seychellois fisheries, with secured markets in the European Union (EU).
According to a statement by the Seychellois government, released today, swordfish is finding it "harder to penetrate the European market on grounds of its cadmium content which exceeds the 0.05 mg/kg limit set by the European Union."
A spokesperson for Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) has said the organisation is nevertheless looking for an alternative market for swordfish, which has been the targeted species by most of the country's long-liner fishermen.
Swordfish fetches relatively high prices on international markets, especially in the EU, as many traditional fishing grounds are rapidly nearing depletion. In particular the Mediterranean Sea and the northern Atlantic are facing rapidly reducing swordfish stocks due to overfishing.
The swordfish fisheries in the south-western Indian Ocean are still modest compared to the Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea, mostly due to lack of modern fishing vessels and fisheries infrastructure. Now, also EU health directives hinder a development of the region's swordfish fisheries.
The French island of La Réunion has a swordfish fishery that lands about 400 tons annually, which is growing rapidly. Mauritius and the Seychelles also catch small quantities of swordfish, but also serve as important trans-shipping points for European and Asian-flag vessels.
There is an average of 150 industrial longliners from the Far East which are licensed in Seychelles annually. The locally based semi-industrial fishing - which mainly targets swordfish, yellowfin and bigeye tuna using monofilament longline - was non-existent until 1995 but the catch increased to 380 tonnes in 1998 being exported mainly to Europe.
In Seychelles, the fisheries are however dominated by European vessels, which are operating in these waters following a quota sale to the EU. Foreign tuna fleets from France, Spain, and Asia have fished for tuna in the Seychelles' waters and unloaded their catch for export to distant markets since the early 1980s.
The Seychelles are now the most important landing and trans-shipment point for tuna in the south-western Indian Ocean. Swordfish catches in Seychelles, on the other hand, have so far very limited, mostly being part of the island nation's growing recreational fisheries.
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