afrol News, 8 December - Pirate activity in Seychelles' waters is very limited, but nevertheless it costs the small nation millions of dollars in lost revenues from fishing and tourism, and in extra transport costs.
According to the national budget speech made yesterday by Seychelles Finance Minister and Vice President Danny Faure in the Victoria parliament, piracy is becoming a larger and larger cost for the island nation of only 85,000 inhabitants.
"Piracy in our waters continues to pose a real threat to our economy," Vice President Faure told Seychellois MPS. "The tourism sector and fishing especially have been affected," he said. Also, the cost of imports had also increased "due to insurance for cargo bound for Seychelles increasing."
Growing transport costs indeed are taking their toll. According to recent government estimates, the cost of freight for the Seychelles Petroleum Company (SEPEC) alone and the cost of diversion would cost over US$ 1.5 million and that for other cargo vessels was approximately US$ 3 million Mr Faure explained.
"Other charter vessels and the tourism industry in general will lose another US$ 8 million," the Vice President revealed. The losses in the tourism sector were due to cancellations as occasional piracy reports hit international news, but also a lower rate of cruise ships and leisure sailors.
Seychelles strongly depends on its tourism sector. According to Mr Faure's budget speech, tourism "contributes 25.5 percent of our GDP, and is the biggest employer in the country." Despite some piracy-related cancellations, arrivals in 2010 so far have increased by 11 percent compared to the same period last year.
The fisheries are another major sector and employer in Seychelles and pirate attacks on local and foreign fishing vessels in and near Seychellois waters were affecting activities negatively. "We estimate the fishing sector will lose another US$ 4million" in 2011, Vice President Faure said.
"This means that piracy will cause Seychelles to lose almost US$ 17 million" in 2011, he concluded. However, Mr Faure emphasised, one also had to "add the cost of patrols within our territorial water."
The Seychellois coastguard has strongly stepped up its activities to secure national waters, acting together with foreign navies that patrol the waters of the western Indian Ocean. The coastguard has noted several successes in freeing civilian vessels captured by Somali pirates, including several Seychellois fishing crews.
The ongoing threat by Somali pirates has caused extraordinary losses and costs for all governments in the region, especially increased freight coasts and increased military costs.
However, the Seychelles government also is receiving increased foreign aid to capacitate its security sector. Vice President Faure said that large grants from the Chinese government and European Union would go to the new coastguard building and facility.
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