We badly need to install a new fishing Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) which is intended to make the life of  deep sea fishermen easier and hassle free far out in the ocean. The VMS will use satellite technology to monitor and track all fishing vessels in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). It will also prevent fishermen from straying into alien territorial waters or fishing illegally in the EEZs of countries.

The satellite monitoring system of fishing vessels are also expected to stop illegal unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Mauritius stands to lose the European Union Export Certificate to market our fish in EU countries as a result of IUU fishing allegations. If this is withdrawn Mauritius would lose an income of US 18000 that would affect 3,700 fishermen in the country. The concern of the EU countries is understandable considering the damage that could be caused to ocean resources by unconventional fishing methods.

The new satellite monitoring system can also help our fishermen to reap bountiful harvests by guiding them to deep sea locations with vast fishing resources.

Such methods to help and guide our fishermen in the deep seas are salutary no doubt as there is much to be done to uplift the country’s fishing industry. We need to exploit the full potential of our aquatic resources in the oceans surrounding us. Being an island nation, it is telling indictment that we still import canned fish from other countries due to this lack of initiative.

It is no secret that some of these countries poach in our waters and make off with rich harvests using modern and sophisticated fishing methods and what more, export the same catch to us in canned form. The new satellite tracking system, it is hoped, will put a halt to this. Our seas should be properly policed to ensure that our ocean resources are not spirited away in this fashion.

On the other hand, we should ourselves endeavour to make the maximum use of our ocean resources by tapping its true potential. We should be able to exploit our vast potential ocean resources which were denied to us by other rich countries all these years. Why should we let foreign countries make money out of our own sea resources, our own ocean savour delicacies?

Steps should be taken to ensure a regular supply of fish to the entire country now. We need to provide enough advertisements of Mauritius as a fishery hub that would attract the tourists to see for themselves of the rare delicacies of our ocean. Ideally more fish canning plants should be opened across the country which would provide massive employment for people and would also create a tremendous boon to our fishing industry.

It is about time that our government considers granting priority to develop the country’s fishing industry which suffered a terrible blow during the past decades. Our fishermen should be introduced into the latest fishing methods and trained to be successful entrepreneurs in their own right by venturing into exports like in the western countries.

We say this because like in the agricultural field there is a trend where the next generation of our fishermen are opting out of their traditional profession and venturing out into different fields.

We need to promote the “blue” economy by proposing projects in aquaculture, such as the culture of algae as well as the culture of pearl oysters. About a million jobs could be created.

By Ahmad Macky