Seychelles aims to set up regional aquaculture centre of excellence, says SFA

Fisheries |Author: Sharon Ernesta | April 15, 2024, Monday @ 12:00| 3898 views

The first Containerised Echinoderm Hatchery, a state-of-the-art facility was opened earlier this year. (Seychelles Aquaculture/Facebook)

(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles is on track to have its aquaculture facility become a centre of excellence in the region. The opening of the first Containerised Echinoderm Hatchery, a state-of-the-art facility earlier this year, is the latest step to bolster the country's position in achieving this strategic objective.

The head of aquaculture at the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA), Aubrey Lesperance, told SNA that with the opening of the hatchery, the SFA has embarked on an ambitious journey to transition from research-based aquaculture to the commercialisation of aquaculture, aligning with Strategy 3 of its Strategic Plan 2022-2027.

"A pivotal step towards this goal is the establishment of Seychelles' first Containerised Echinoderm Hatchery, crucial to establish the islands as a Centre of Excellence for aquaculture collaborative research," explained Lesperance.

The Containerised Echinoderm Hatchery represents a significant leap towards the commercialisation of aquaculture in Seychelles.

By integrating advanced research facilities with practical, scalable solutions like the hatchery, the Seychelles – 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean – are poised to become a global leader in sustainable aquaculture practices.

At the opening of the hatchery, the Minister for Fisheries and the Blue Economy, Jean Francois Ferrari, said, "It is our ambition to become a marine Centre of Excellence in fisheries and aquaculture in the Blue Economy sector. Facilities such as this one bring us closer to this strategic objective."

According to Lesperance, "This initiative not only enhances the country's aquaculture infrastructure but also paves the way for significant economic opportunities, reinforcing the importance of public and private sector investment in realising the full potential of the aquaculture sector."

Lesperance added that the authority has aligned its priorities in terms of infrastructure and research to become a Centre of Excellence. These include the newly inaugurated Containerised Echinoderm Hatchery on February 29, the setting up of the Broodstock, Acclimation, and Quarantine Facility, which plays a crucial role in ensuring the health and quality of broodstock, critical for successful hatchery operations, and the Sea Urchin Research Facility, which is located at the Seychelles Maritime Academy (SMA).

Lesperance says the facility "facilitates cutting-edge research on sea urchin aquaculture, contributing to the knowledge base necessary for commercial success.' The open ocean sea cages, which are situated 300 metre from Providence Fishing Port, enable the practical application of research findings in a controlled marine environment, essential for the scale-up to commercial operations.

In addition, SFA has acquired a service boat, Aqua 1, which is crucial for aquaculture's day-to-day operations, enabling broodstock collection, training, investor site selection, environmental monitoring, and maintenance activities for structures such as the sea cages crucial for the sector's development.

In addition to the infrastructure, the Seychelles Fishing Authority has made a move to foster a new generation of aquaculture technicians and scientists by establishing a strong collaboration with the Seychelles Maritime Academy (SMA).

The authority and academy collaboration focus on providing students with real-world experience and exposure to the latest aquaculture technologies and practices. Through various work-based experiences, internships, and research projects, students from the SMA can apply their academic knowledge in practical settings, thus bridging the gap between theoretical learning and practical application.

SFA is also extending its educational outreach beyond the SMA, targeting secondary school students through the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programme. This initiative is designed to inspire and educate young Seychellois on the opportunities within the aquaculture sector.

The TVET programme and the SMA aim to train a good majority of the 70 percent of the workforce required in the Seychelles aquaculture sector by 2040, highlighting the government's commitment to developing a skilled and knowledgeable workforce to support the sector's growth.

Through these initiatives, students are empowered to become the next generation of aquaculture professionals with the knowledge, skills, and passion to drive the sector forward. 

Tags: Centre of Excellence, Seychelles Fishing Authority, Seychelles Maritime Academy


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