GIS - 10 June, 2020: In the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Blue Economy has assumed another dimension as the need to ensure food security, job retention, and sustainability are now among the highest priorities of our socio-economic development agenda, said the Minister of Blue economy, Marine resources, Fisheries and Shipping, Mr Sudheer Maudhoo, today, in Parliament during his budgetary intervention.
He highlighted that the fisheries sector, which is an important component of the Blue Economy, will have to assume new roles and responsibilities in view of the challenges ahead. It has to emerge as a major player in our food security strategy, to be one of the main sources of foreign currencies and to create sustainable employment, he said.
Mr Maudhoo underlined that the Mauritius Investment Corporation (MIC) will set the base for a fishing industry on a large scale in Mauritius. The MIC, he added, will invest massively in the fishing industry, more specifically in industrial pelagic and demersal fishing, which is expected to become a key pillar of our economy in the coming years.
He indicated that Government will reduce foreign fishing vessels in our Exclusive Economic Zone in a phased manner and will replace them by Mauritian vessels with the support of MIC and local investors. Our Tuna will go through the value chain for export which is expected to generate thousands of jobs and inflow of foreign currencies, he added. Furthermore, investors will be called upon to export 50 % of their catch to enable the country to generate foreign currency.
Other measures include:
- To combat Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing, the licensing conditions of foreign fishing vessels will be reviewed and the Vessel Monitoring System Regulations (2005) will be updated to provide for maximum usage of information gathered through this system.
- Increase of semi industrial bank fishing vessels from 35 to 100 over the coming four years so as to boost the catch to 6,000 tons yearly. As a major incentive, Government is envisaging to allow them to export 40% of their catch.
- The current grant scheme of Rs 12 million for semi industrial fishing vessels will be reviewed to allow more promoters to benefit from the scheme and to purchase vessels so as to increase the local fleet.
- Attracting investors to explore the resources at St Brandon Island.
- Provision of Rs 4 million for the purchase of 20 ‘cannot’.
- Increase in the number of scholarships offered to children of fishers and revival of the Seafarer’s Fund.
- Revamping of the Albion Fisheries Research Centre.
Minister Maudhoo also said that a single licence for chartered yacht calls in Mauritius will be introduced encompassing multiple berthing options. He indicated that as part of Government’s initiative to boost ship registration and encourage the expansion of ancillary services, the niche market of yachting is now being targeted.
He also dwelt on the Inland Aquaculture Scheme which will give a boost to the Blue Economy sector. The Scheme openly invites, through its attractive taxation structure, investment which will see an 8-year tax holiday, he added.
Speaking about incentives for fishermen, Mr Maudhoo stated that Government has increased the Bad Weather Allowance from Rs 365 to Rs 425, representing an increase of 100%. Furthermore, a sum of Rs 25 million has been earmarked for the dredging of ‘La passe de Mahebourg’ and another Rs 5 million for the same exercise at Le Batelage, Souillac.
Other measures include:
- Authorise fishermen's federations to buy or import their fishing equipment themselves so that they can benefit from a better price.
- Review net sizes for seine fishing.
- Review the closing and opening period of the seine fishery.
- Allow seine fishermen to venture out of the lagoon.
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