Seychellois experts in fisheries and aquaculture have had the chance to learn from the best practices of the United States in these sectors through their participation in this year’s International Visitor Leadership Programme (IVLP).
The programme, which was held in September, allowed Veronica Alphonse–Uzice, Rodney Govinden, and Aubrey Lesperance from the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) to increase their knowledge as well as visit different businesses and projects in four states and cities, including Washington D.C, Corpus Christi, Tampa and Portland.
“The IVLP exchange program is a valuable opportunity for Seychelles, giving me a chance to learn from the experiences of other professionals in sustainable fishing and aquaculture. Its benefits are limitless and allow for enhancing the capacity and skills of Seychellois professionals in various fields, such as sustainable aquaculture practices and governance, which we could adopt as we expand our sector,” Lesperance, the head of Aquaculture at SFA, told SNA.
He added that the programme allowed the island nation to promote and provide visibility and recognition of Seychelles as a small island developing state committed to sustainable development and regional integration.
“I gained new insights into the challenges and solutions the U.S. encounters in ensuring that fish stocks are maintained at sustainable levels while looking at new developments such as aquaculture, especially in climate change and environmental degradation. I also developed new networks that will help me in my current work at SFA and my future endeavours in further developing aquaculture in Seychelles,” explained Lesperance.
The International Visitor Leadership Programme is the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange programme. The IVLP in 2023, titled “The Benefits of Transparent Fisheries Management in the Western Indian Ocean,” saw the participation of three other Indian Ocean countries, namely Comoros, Madagascar, and Mauritius.
During their visit, the Seychelles delegation not only had meetings and held talks with representatives of various organisations and institutions, but they also had the chance to visit different sites for fisheries and aquaculture.
These included the PEW Research Centre, where discussions were focused on data analyses and provision for sustainable fisheries management, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Florida Aquatic Preserves, the Universities of South Florida and New England, Mote Research Laboratories, and Archipelago Law – a law firm working in sustainable environmental law.
The visit at sea with Lucky Catch, a Maine lobster fishing company, was described by the delegation as one of the most exciting activities during the programme, where the delegation had the chance to go out on a lobster fishing boat, handle lobster pots, and harvest them onboard the boat.
The team also visited Luke’s Lobster – a lobster processing purchasing company and restaurant which gave the team a good perspective of integrated lobster fishing and selling to end consumers, and also the Bangs Island Mussels, which is an aquaculture farming company as well as the Maine Trade Centre and fish auction center.
“On a personal level, my participation in the IVLP Program has been incredibly enriching. Engaging with experts and fellow participants has broadened my perspective on the challenges facing fisheries and how collaborative efforts can address them,” said Govinden who is the head of Fisheries at the SFA.
The participation of the team from fisheries research and in aquaculture development in the IVLP was also used to also identify potential individuals and or organisations which SFA could partner with to implement a particular project that the U.S. Embassy could fund after a call for proposal is made by the embassy as part of their Alumni programme.
“As part of the Alumni family, we can apply for various funds and programmes to better help our work and programmes in our respective fields,” concluded Lesperance.