Seychelles



Sea cucumbers: Seychelles Fishing Authority's survey points to over-exploited species

Some sea cucumber species appear to be resilient to heavy fishing pressure while others show clear signs of over-exploitation according to a recently published 2021/2022 survey by the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA). According to a press release from th
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Sea cucumbers: Seychelles Fishing Authority's survey points to over-exploited species

Some sea cucumber species appear to be resilient to heavy fishing pressure while others show clear signs of over-exploitation according to a recently published 2021/2022 survey by the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA). According to a press release from the SFA on Tuesday, the survey was completed in October 2022 and about 200 of the original sites surveyed in 2004 were revisited to estimate the trends in density and population size since that time. The head of the SFA fisheries research department, Rodney Govinden, said, «The research had for the first time seen the participation of industry divers in the implementation of the surveys. This is an important step towards co-management and the continuous improvement in the future management of the fishery.» The data collected on the white teat fish species points to a heavily depleted population of approximately 10 percent of its 2004 level. Last year, when SFA announced the new season, which started on October 15 and will end on June 14, 2023. The authority said there will be a complete closure on the fishing of the white-teat fish. This is one of the recommendations made in the published survey led by consultant Timothy Skewes that immediate cessation of fishing of the species is required to allow rebuilding and monitoring every three years to detect any recovery. Another species being overfished is the flower teat fish and SFA in the new season has the fishing quota reduced by 5 percent - from 11,250 pieces per vessel to 9,619 - as a reduction in the stock has been observed. There is good news for the prickly redfish in 2021-2022, which showed an increase of 52 percent on the 2004 estimate. In his recommendation, Hewes said that the Seychelles sea cucumber fishery can provide significant economic benefits to current and future generations of Seychellois. He added that the sea cucumber fishery is at an important crossroads and that «it has fished hard for several years and many species are now showing signs of being over-fished, including the prized pentard [flower teat fish]. Industry, management, and scientists need to work together to ensure the long-term survival of the fishery.» Hewes said that «if the Seychelles' sea cucumber fishery can act and implement sustainable fishing practices, then access to global markets will remain open, and possibly at a premium, given the Seychelles growing reputation for environmental stewardship.» In Seychelles, sea cucumbers are mostly exported, especially to Asian markets. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the annual export of dried sea cucumbers from 2019-2021 was a total of 41.52 tonnes at a market value of $4.7 million. 

Pope Francis heads to war-torn DR Congo and South Sudan

Pope Francis will visit the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan next week, delivering a message of peace and reconciliation to two sub-Saharan African nations plagued by conflict. The 86-year-old pontiff is flying to the Congolese capital Kinshasa o
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Pope Francis heads to war-torn DR Congo and South Sudan

Pope Francis will visit the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan next week, delivering a message of peace and reconciliation to two sub-Saharan African nations plagued by conflict. The 86-year-old pontiff is flying to the Congolese capital Kinshasa on Tuesday before heading Friday to Juba, the capital of South Sudan, where he will be joined by the leaders of the Anglican Church and the Church of Scotland. The six-day trip was originally planned for July 2022 but was postponed after Francis suffered problems with his knee, which have recently forced him to use a wheelchair. There were also concerns about his planned visit to the east of DR Congo, where scores of armed groups roam including M23, which recently came within several miles of the commercial hub of Goma. The new itinerary no longer includes a trip to Goma, the capital of the North Kivu province, though the pope will meet victims of the conflict while in Kinshasa. It will be the Argentine pontiff's 40th trip overseas since being elected head of the Catholic Church in 2013, and his fifth visit to Africa. Francis is due to speak publicly 12 times and hold meetings with local officials, clerics and charities, addressing issues including education, climate change and deforestation, and social and health problems. But his priority will be efforts to restore peace in two impoverished countries ravaged by fighting, from the three decades of conflict in DR Congo's east to the violence that persists in South Sudan after a brutal civil war. - Open-air mass - More than a million people are expected at an open-air mass at Kinshasa airport on Wednesday, and market stalls are already doing brisk business in papal souvenirs including T-shirts and wax prints decorated with Francis' image. DR Congo is a traditionally Catholic nation of around 100 million people in central Africa, plagued by poverty despite its vast mineral wealth. «The pope's voice will be hugely encouraging for the country but will also be a strong spur to the political classes to resolve the country's problems,» Mauro Garofalo, head of international relations at the Rome-based Sant'Egidio community, told AFP. Security in Kinshasa will be a concern, mainly because of the threat of militias from the east, but Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni told journalists Tuesday that there was «no specific threat» against the pontiff. Among the armed groups operating in DR Congo's east are the Allied Democratic Forces, which the Islamic State group claims as an affiliate and which bombed a Pentecostal church on January 15, killing 14 people. Justin-Marie Bayala, a Catholic teacher in Kinshasa, told AFP this week: «We dare to believe that he will bring us lasting peace.» Despite its natural wealth, «Congo also embodies social injustice, the scandal of underdevelopment and poverty», said Samuel Pommeret from the nongovernmental organisation CCFD-Terre Solidaire. Francis, the first pope to visit DR Congo since 1985, «could also deliver a message for the economic actors who benefit from these riches», Pommeret said. - Christian leaders unite - In South Sudan, the world's newest nation after independence from Sudan in 2011, the pope will deliver another appeal for peace, this time alongside Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and the Moderator of the Church of Scotland, Iain Greenshields. The leaders of the Catholic, Anglican and Scottish churches had gathered at the Vatican in 2019 with South Sudan rivals Riek Machar and Salva Kiir to encourage them to salvage a stalled peace deal signed the year before. At that event, Francis stunned the world by kissing the feet of the two men, both accused of responsibility for war crimes. «This is a very important element in the South Sudanese crisis -- the joint work of the Christian churches and denominations can represent an antidote to the ethnicism and political rivalry,» Garofalo said. After independence, South Sudan suffered a brutal five-year civil war between forces loyal to President Kiir or Machar, his deputy, that left nearly 400,000 people dead. Despite the 2018 peace deal, sporadic bursts of violence between government and opposition forces continue, while conflict between rival ethnic groups in lawless parts of the country exacts a devastating toll on civilians. © Agence France-Presse

France recalls its ambassador from Burkina Faso

France said on Thursday that it was recalling its ambassador from Burkina Faso, a day after agreeing to demands from the ruling junta to pull out troops from the former French colony in Africa's Sahel region. «In the context of the latest developments
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France recalls its ambassador from Burkina Faso

France said on Thursday that it was recalling its ambassador from Burkina Faso, a day after agreeing to demands from the ruling junta to pull out troops from the former French colony in Africa's Sahel region. «In the context of the latest developments in Burkina Faso, we have decided to recall our ambassador to Paris for consultations on the state and perspectives of our bilateral relations,» the foreign ministry said. Burkina on Monday said it had asked France to withdraw within a month its contingent of some 400 troops currently stationed in the country and on Wednesday Paris agreed to do so. It marked the latest scaling down of France's military presence in Africa after the junta in neighbouring Mali also insisted French troops leave and President Emmanuel Macron drew the curtain on the over decade-long anti-jihadist mission. Both Mali and Burkina Faso fell out with Paris after a military coup brought a junta to power and the French presence became increasingly unpopular among the public. Jihadist activity continues in the region while concern grows over the increasing influence of Russia, in particular through the presence of mercenaries from the Wagner Group run by an ally of President Vladimir Putin. Burkina is one of the poorest and most volatile in Africa. Thousands of troops, police and civilians have been killed and around two million people have fled their homes since jihadists launched an insurgency from neighbouring Mali in 2015. More than a third of the country lies beyond the control of the government, and frustration within the army at the mounting toll triggered two coups last year. © Agence France-Presse

Magistrates' Court orders autopsy on 17-month-old baby found dead in car

The Magistrates' Court of Seychelles has approved an order by the police to carry out an autopsy on a 17-month-old baby who died last Saturday. The police said in a press communique on Monday that an investigation has started in an incident in which a 17-mon
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Magistrates' Court orders autopsy on 17-month-old baby found dead in car

The Magistrates' Court of Seychelles has approved an order by the police to carry out an autopsy on a 17-month-old baby who died last Saturday. The police said in a press communique on Monday that an investigation has started in an incident in which a 17-month-old Russian baby, Emelyan Jandurl, died after being left alone in an air-conditioned car in a car park of a gym in the Anse Royale district. According to the communique, the father of the deceased accompanied by his wife had left their baby in the car to go to the gym. After 1 hour and 30 minutes when his wife returned to the car, she saw that the baby boy was not reacting. She immediately went back to tell her husband and both sought assistance. All attempts by the doctor and a medical team to resuscitate the baby were in vain. According to an SBC news report on Wednesday, in its investigation, the police had asked the Magistrates Court, as per normal procedure, to give an order for an autopsy to know the cause of the death of the baby. The couple had in return made a request to overturn the order through a notice of motion in the Supreme Court through their lawyer Brian Julie saying that they follow the Russian Orthodox religion and that an autopsy is not allowed in their religion. According to the Orthodox Christian information centre, post-mortem examinations should not be performed on Orthodox clergy or faithful «except in the case of suspected foul play» or forensic considerations. In his response, Chief Justice Rony Goviden said that the motion is not in accordance with Seychelles' laws. He said that a notice of motion is not used to start a case but is used in the middle of a case when there is a request and that the decision of the Magistrate is at its own discretion. Govinden added that there is no part of the law that can overturn a decision that is in line with the Constitution. Even if the Supreme Court has a supervisory role, it is not its role to overturn a decision in line with the Constitution. The autopsy is expected to be done on Thursday. The couple and their child had arrived in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean on January 14 and were scheduled to return home on January 31.

New Zealand's new PM known for his candour and poor dress sense

New Zealand's new prime minister does not draw adoring crowds like his predecessor Jacinda Ardern, but is well known throughout the country for his political nous, poor dress sense and a love of diet Coke. Chris Hipkins, 44, was on Wednesday morning official
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New Zealand's new PM known for his candour and poor dress sense

New Zealand's new prime minister does not draw adoring crowds like his predecessor Jacinda Ardern, but is well known throughout the country for his political nous, poor dress sense and a love of diet Coke. Chris Hipkins, 44, was on Wednesday morning officially sworn in to replace Ardern, his friend of more than 20 years, who resigned because she no longer had «enough in the tank». «This is the biggest privilege and responsibility of my life,» Hipkins said after formally taking office. «I'm energised and excited by the challenges ahead.» The straight-talking Hipkins was the architect of New Zealand's Covid-19 response, and is widely seen as a personable politician with a safe pair of hands. «Hopefully New Zealanders know me as someone who is upfront, doesn't mind admitting when they've made a mistake and can laugh at themselves,» he told reporters after being touted for the role last week. Hipkins has somewhat mellowed since his early days as a firebrand of student politics. He was arrested and strip-searched in the late 1990s while protesting proposed reforms to university education. Political commentator Josie Pagani has described Hipkins, with more than 14 years in opposition and government, as «sensible, likeable, tough and capable». He will now be tasked with turning around the sagging popularity of Ardern's Labour government, which has been hampered by a looming recession and a resurgent conservative opposition. Hipkins won plaudits for his near two-year term as the Covid response minister in a country that shut its borders to keep the coronavirus out, only fully reopening to the outside world in August last year. - 'Humble beginnings' - Hailing from the working class Hutt Valley in New Zealand's North Island, Hipkins has held high-profile portfolios including police and education. «I think I am relatively upfront, I'm relatively inclusive. People won't die wondering what I think,» he has said. «My parents came from relatively humble beginnings and worked really hard to provide a good life for my brother and I.» His diet has drawn the attention of his colleagues, with a former boss once remarking that Hipkins «appears to eat nothing more than sausage rolls and diet Coke». Justice Minister Kiri Allan, one of Labour's senior Maori MPs, who had been considered a potential prime minister herself, has described Hipkins as decisive and an «incredibly strong» leader. «He is extremely competent, with a track record of delivering for New Zealand as one of our most senior ministers over the past six years,» she said. - 'Fashion sense' - Hipkins told journalists he liked cycling, gardening, DIY work and being outdoors, but conceded: «Maybe I don't have the best fashion sense in parliament.» He famously appeared before media after Ardern's resignation wearing a faded cap, dark sunglasses and a baggy sweatshirt. The ensemble is currently being auctioned for charity, where it has been billed as a must-have for «fashionistas and political tragics alike». The incoming New Zealand leader studied politics and criminology at Victoria University in the capital Wellington and then worked in the industry training sector. Before becoming an MP in 2008, he worked as a senior adviser to two education ministers and former prime minister Helen Clark. Although known as a personable and laid-back operator, Hipkins is also capable of playing hard-nosed politics, and was involved in some high-profile spats with Australia's former conservative government. In 2021, he accused Australia of «exporting its garbage» to New Zealand -- a reference to Canberra's controversial policy of deporting criminals back to their country of birth. Hipkins was admonished by Ardern in 2017 after he was accused of orchestrating the resignation of Australia's then-deputy prime minister, Barnaby Joyce. Information released to Hipkins showed Joyce was a dual citizen of both Australia and New Zealand -- which disqualified him from sitting in parliament under Australia's constitution. © Agence France-Presse

Oxford study: Plastic debris on Seychelles' shores mostly from Asia

The primary source of plastic debris washing up on the shores of Seychelles' beaches primarily originate from Indonesia, followed by India and Sri Lanka, a new study by the University of Oxford shows. Called 'Sources of marine debris for Seychelles and othe
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Oxford study: Plastic debris on Seychelles' shores mostly from Asia

The primary source of plastic debris washing up on the shores of Seychelles' beaches primarily originate from Indonesia, followed by India and Sri Lanka, a new study by the University of Oxford shows. Called 'Sources of marine debris for Seychelles and other remote islands in the western Indian Ocean', the study is the first to produce a quantitative estimate of the sources of plastic debris washing up on these shores. In a press release from the Seychelles Islands Foundation (SIF), the lead author of the research, Noam Vogt-Vincent outlined that the majority of plastic debris originating from the land was from distant countries, including Indonesia, India, and Sri Lanka. «However, a staggering number of bottles found on Aldabra were from countries like China and Thailand, and no realistic current or wave patterns could account for the transport of this litter to Aldabra. It is, therefore, more likely that most of these bottles were illegally discarded from ships crossing the Indian Ocean, rather than directly from the mainland,» he said. The remote Aldabra atoll is one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. To investigate the source of the plastic debris, the University of Oxford carried out a global marine dispersal simulation that replicated the movement of plastic debris across the world's oceans.  The study forecast the buildup of plastic debris at 27 sites in Seychelles and the wider western Indian Ocean through the use of data on ocean currents, waves, and winds. Plastic debris entering the ocean from coastal populations, rivers, and fisheries was also taken into account. In an online news report, Vogt-Vincent said: «We have combined observational data from across Seychelles with cutting-edge computer simulations to generate the most comprehensive predictions currently available for marine litter dispersal in the region.» He added that «this will provide vital information for local management on these islands – many of which are global biodiversity hotspots - and to inform national and international responses.» For marine ecosystems and the communities that depend on the ocean for food, tourism, and other economic activities, plastic pollution poses a serious threat. Drifting plastic debris originating from far-off sources also increases the likelihood of introducing or spreading invasive species and diseases. The study also indicates that the rates at which this waste ended up on the beaches are linked to the monsoon seasons. Debris landed more frequently at the end of the northwest monsoon, peaking in March and April.  The co-author of the study, April Burt, said that «these islands are faced with the deeply inequitable situation of bearing the costs of removing waste they were not responsible for generating, contrary to the »polluter pays« principle.» «Our study has demonstrated that most of the plastic debris accumulating at these remote islands comes from far-off sources, and this should be the first positive step towards accountability and prevention,» said Burt. 

UAE and Seychelles agree on key development projects in housing, sports and health

Key priority projects in housing, sports and health in Seychelles have been approved as part of efforts to consolidate diplomatic relations between the island nation and the United Arab Emirates, State House said on Wednesday. The projects include the Barbar
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UAE and Seychelles agree on key development projects in housing, sports and health

Key priority projects in housing, sports and health in Seychelles have been approved as part of efforts to consolidate diplomatic relations between the island nation and the United Arab Emirates, State House said on Wednesday. The projects include the Barbarons Housing project Phase 2 and 3, comprising around 80 new housing units. The housing project started in 2015 through a grant of $9 million from Abu Dhabi and the first phase covered housing at Takamaka and Barbarons. Other projects are the refurbishment of the athletics tartan track at the Stad Linite stadium and the construction of a modern sports arena in the southern Mahe district of Anse Royale. In the health sector, the project will be the acquisition of a modern magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine and the provision of financial assistance for two specialists to work with the Ministry of Health. President Wavel Ramkalawan has expressed sincere appreciation to the UAE government for its willingness and commitment to further enhance the country-to-country partnership with Seychelles. He said that Seychelles is extremely grateful for the immense opportunities and support extended to its people through the implementation of those projects. «Seychelles remains open to explore more mechanisms to deepen collaboration with the UAE government through the sharing of expertise, experiences, capacity building, and training programs, as well as other joint ventures for the mutual benefit of both our nations,» said Ramkalawan. Other existing major projects sponsored by the UAE government include the construction of the La Digue St. Mary's Hospital, a renewable energy project, a drugs rehabilitation centre, and a building for the Institute of Early Childhood Development (IECD). The construction of La Digue hospital which started in March 2022 is being funded through a donation of around $4 million from the UAE government and an additional SCR 2 million ($139,000) from the La Digue Hospital Fund. The UAE agreed to fund a drug rehabilitation centre in January 2020 at a total cost of $3.6 million. Plans for its construction at the former Mont Royale rehabilitation site in the central Mahe district of Mont Fleuri started in April 2021. The IECD building is being funded through a grant of over $1 million from the UAE on an allocated parcel of land at the man-made island of Ile du Port next to Victoria, the capital. 

Octopus: Seychelles conducts a baseline study to assess local fishery

Taking stock and establishing a database of octopus found within the waters of the inner islands of Seychelles is the aim of a project currently being implemented by the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA).  The baseline study also seeks to establish its spe
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Octopus: Seychelles conducts a baseline study to assess local fishery

Taking stock and establishing a database of octopus found within the waters of the inner islands of Seychelles is the aim of a project currently being implemented by the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA).  The baseline study also seeks to establish its species, seasonality as well as its distribution.  In an interview on the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation TV on Sunday, SFA explained that there is no recent information on the octopus, a species largely harvested as a local delicacy and signature dish for the island nation.  «This study will basically collect new information on the species, know more about its biology, socio economic aspects, and its ecology so that we can then feed this information in our fisheries management and then decisions can be taken on how to manage this resource,» explained scientist Annie Vidot.   Vidot added that for now, there are no regulations in place on the harvesting of octopus in Seychelles. People are free to harvest the species with no limitations.  The authority is currently putting in place the protocol for this research under a project funded by the Seychelles Climate Change Adaptation Trust (SeyCCAT), which will end in September 2024.   Discussions to study the octopus started last year in May, with the support of the UNDP and Ecofish project, when SFA organised a workshop aimed at sharing best practices and improving octopus' fishery in Seychelles.  Through this workshop the island nation sought the expertise of the Mauritian island of Rodrigues, where the harvesting of octopus is an important economic activity. These are dried and then exported. Octopus harvesting is regulated there and its best practices could be shared and replicated in Seychelles, allowing a better controlled octopus fishing sector in Seychelles.  The Minister for Blue Economy and Fisheries, Jean Francois Ferrari, had highlighted that Rodrigues has developed good management mechanisms when it comes to octopus fishery which Seychelles can learn from.  The minister added that countries in the region «need to share their experiences and learn from each other.» He pointed out that the ministry is not stopping people from fishing, however, there is a need to bring about best practices to sustain the species.  For the comprehensive baseline study, the SFA will also be working with the local fishers' community for the collection of information on the harvest of the octopus.  Octopus is a much-loved seafood in Seychelles and features widely in the island nation cuisine. Cooked as a traditional curry, with eggplant in coconut milk, octopus is also consumed as a salad with tomatoes, red onions, green chilies and a squeeze of lemon juice. With a modern twist, the octopus can also be barbecued. 

Cameroon and Mali make shock CHAN exits in Algeria

Cameroon and Mali crashed out of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) on Tuesday as the group phase in Algeria came to a shock-riddled climax. Two-time runners-up Mali needed only a score draw against Mauritania to top Group D, but lost 1-0 with Mamadou S
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Cameroon and Mali make shock CHAN exits in Algeria

Cameroon and Mali crashed out of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) on Tuesday as the group phase in Algeria came to a shock-riddled climax. Two-time runners-up Mali needed only a score draw against Mauritania to top Group D, but lost 1-0 with Mamadou Sy scoring the 53rd-minute goal that took his country to the quarter-finals. Cameroon, who hosted the previous edition and came fourth, also needed only one point to finish first in Group E, but fell 1-0 to Niger, who snatched top spot. The competition for footballers playing with clubs in their country of birth now takes a two-day break before the quarter-finals. On Friday, title favourites Algeria face the Ivory Coast in Algiers and Senegal meet west African neighbours Mauritania in Annaba. Madagascar play Mozambique in Constantine and Niger tackle two-time runners-up Ghana in Oran on Saturday. None of the eight survivors have won the CHAN with Morocco and the Democratic Republic of Congo twice each and Tunisia and Libya lifting the trophy in the six previous tournaments. After Algeria and Senegal predictably topped Groups A and B last weekend, minnows have captured the headlines with Madagascar winning Group C on Monday. Before facing Mali, Mauritania had lost all six matches in two other appearances, and fought a goalless draw with Angola in Algeria last week. That automatically made them underdogs against Mali, whose proud CHAN record included reaching the 2016 and 2020 finals. But the Mauritanians never allowed the Malians to settle in the first match of a double-header in the western city of Oran and Sy outjumped Souleymane Coulibaly to nod the match-winner. Following a dour draw with Congo Brazzaville, Niger were given little chance of stopping Cameroon, who were watched by football federation president and former superstar Samuel Eto'o. Cameroon had looked likelier to score until the match was turned on its head in the 69th minute as an Ousseini Badamassi free-kick deflected off Thomas Bawak into the net. Needing an equaliser to survive, Cameroon lay siege to the Nigerien goalmouth, but several poorly-taken free-kicks summed up a night to forget for the central Africans. © Agence France-Presse

Climate change increases human trafficking risks: UN

Evidence is emerging that climate-related disasters are becoming a cause of human trafficking as criminal gangs exploit a growing number of uprooted people, the UN said Tuesday. The continuing war in Ukraine is also another risk factor for increased human tr
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Climate change increases human trafficking risks: UN

Evidence is emerging that climate-related disasters are becoming a cause of human trafficking as criminal gangs exploit a growing number of uprooted people, the UN said Tuesday. The continuing war in Ukraine is also another risk factor for increased human trafficking, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a report. «Climate change is increasing vulnerability to trafficking,» the UNODC report said. «While a systematic global analysis of the impact of climate change in trafficking in persons is missing, community level studies in different parts of the world point at weather induced disasters as root causes for trafficking in persons,» it said. The report is based on data from 141 countries collected from 2017 to 2020, and the analysis of 800 court cases. The impact of climate change «disproportionally» affected poor farming, fishing and other communities mainly relying on the extraction of natural resources for their livelihoods, the report said. Once «deprived of their means of subsistence and forced to flee their community,» people were becoming easy prey for traffickers, Fabrizio Sarrica, the report's main author told a press briefing. In 2021 alone, climate-related disasters internally displaced more than 23.7 million people, while many others fled their countries altogether. As entire regions of the world are at risk of becoming «increasingly uninhabitable,» millions will face «high risk of exploitation along migration routes,» the UN report said. The UN drugs agency noted that an increase in cases of human trafficking had been observed in Bangladesh and the Philippines after devastating cyclones and typhoons displaced millions. Droughts and floods in Ghana, and the Caribbean region -- subject to hurricanes and rising sea levels -- were also forcing many to migrate. - Fewer victims detected - While most of the victims of trafficking resulting from conflicts originated from Africa and the Middle East, a potentially «dangerous» situation is simultaneously building up in Ukraine as millions flee the war-torn country. «The challenge is how to deal with human trafficking arising from war and instability,» Ilias Chatzis, the head of the human trafficking and migrant smuggling section at UNODC, told AFP. With regard to Ukraine, helping neighbouring countries and increasing support to the Ukrainian authorities is equally important, Chatzis added. The Covid-19 pandemic limited the ability to detect cases, especially in low-income countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa, the report added. Faced with the closure of public venues such as bars and clubs due to health restrictions, certain forms of trafficking, in particular sexual exploitation, have been pushed into «less visible and less safe locations». For the first time since data collection began in 2003, the number of victims detected worldwide fell in 2020, dropping by eleven percent compared to 2019, the Vienna-based UNODC said. © Agence France-Presse

Constitutional Court of Seychelles dismisses petition for recusal of its judges

A panel of three judges of the Constitutional Court of Seychelles on Tuesday dismissed the application for its recusal on Tuesday made by the Seychelles Human Rights Commission, the Ombudsman and the Bar Association of Seychelles.  The three entities lodge
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Constitutional Court of Seychelles dismisses petition for recusal of its judges

A panel of three judges of the Constitutional Court of Seychelles on Tuesday dismissed the application for its recusal on Tuesday made by the Seychelles Human Rights Commission, the Ombudsman and the Bar Association of Seychelles.  The three entities lodged a joint petition with the Constitutional Court on September 13, 2022, asking that the constitutionality of the 10th amendment of the Constitution be reviewed. The 10th amendment was passed by the National Assembly to empower the Seychelles Defence Forces to carry out internal law enforcement in Seychelles, outside the context of a public emergency, enabling them to work alongside the Seychelles Police Force. The panel hearing the case in the Constitutional Court comprised Chief Justice Rony Govinden and justices Mohan Burhan and Brassel Adeline. The formal application was made by the three entities for the recusal of the judges on the grounds that there is evidence indicating that the judiciary was involved in the preparation of the 10th Amendment and that one of the judges of the Constitutional Court recently benefitted from a land transfer from the government. Additionally, the application stated that in the mind of reasonable fairminded members of the public, the government's action may have compromised the ability of the judges of the Constitutional Court to impartially adjudicate the constitutional dispute between the petitioners on the one hand and the government and other respondents on the other. In its ruling, the panel of judges said that «in this case, the Chief Justice himself has been asked to recuse together with all the current Judges and Justices of the Judiciary. The procedural difficulty caused by this Application for recusal of every current Judge and Justice lies in the way of how Judges and Justices are appointed under Articles 123 and 127 of the Constitution.» It further added that the President of Seychelles, who is also the respondent in the petition, appoints judges, masters and justices of appeal from candidates proposed by the Constitutional Appointments Authority. «Therefore, an ad hoc judge or panel of judges will still need to be appointed by the President, whether an ad hoc judge to hear the recusal motion, an ad hoc panel of the Constitutional Court or an ad hoc panel of the Seychelles Court of Appeal. There is no other way around this,» said the panel. The panel added that the very President that the petitioners are saying has interfered with the Judiciary and breached their independence would be the very same one that would be appointing new judges and justices to decide whether there were any interferences by him in the first place. It is on that basis that the judges ruled that the motion appears to be frivolous and vexatious and an abuse of the process of the court and dismissed it on this basis. The petitioner, represented by Divinio Sabino, expressed his intention of filing an appeal and he was asked by the Chief Justice to follow procedure and file his application. 

FATF compliance: Seychelles' government to survey NPOs for terrorist financing risk 

A national risk assessment that started last year to identify nonprofit organisations (NPOs) at risk of financing terrorism is moving to the second phase to be done through a survey. The chief executive of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Richard Rampa
Seychelles News Agency

FATF compliance: Seychelles' government to survey NPOs for terrorist financing risk 

A national risk assessment that started last year to identify nonprofit organisations (NPOs) at risk of financing terrorism is moving to the second phase to be done through a survey. The chief executive of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Richard Rampal, told reporters on Tuesday that the exercise is not only to determine if the sector, in general, faces the risk of financing terrorism but to look at mitigating measures in line with international recommendations. “For the NPOs identified to be at risk, FIU is the entity that will supervise them. The intention is to assist the NPOs that are at risk and work closely with them so that they are not used as an avenue for terrorists to route their funds through. We will supervise, ask for reports and do inspections at the associations for us to be better able to support them,” he explained Rampal said that FIU “does not have any statistics at the moment that shows that our NPOS are being used for financing terrorism. This exercise will help us collect information so that we can make policy decisions that will mitigate the risks.” The Secretary of State in the finance ministry, Patrick Payet, said that the first phase done last year was to identify all entities that fall under the NPO sector and the second phase will be more in depth. “In our review of the first phase we have seen that we need more engagement from the NPOs and we also need more information. This time we are also including a better representation of different groups of NPOs and adding questions that will help identify if NPOs understand the risk they can have for financing terrorism,” said Payet. The chief executive of the Citizens Engagement Platform of Seychelles (CEPS), Alvin Laurence, said the exercise will be done through a survey. “The different associations will be contacted by telephone to ensure a high level of confidentiality and transparency. The questions that will be asked will include where they get their funding and who verifies upon receipt and how the funds are used. All the answers will be recorded and a national analysis will be done to show if that sector in Seychelles is at risk for financing terrorism,” said Laurence. He explained that a nonprofit organisation is a group set up for a particular purpose and the funds they get should not go into the pocket of an individual but are used for the benefit of society. The NPOs under the CEPS umbrella include associations, federations and foundations. “It also includes faith-based organisations which are those not registered as a religion but have their own practices and this is one of the sectors that is looked at closely because there is collection and utilisation of funds,” he added. Laurence highlighted the importance of the NPOs and said that to continue with the good work and in the development of the country, it is important that these organisations continue to get financial support. “This is not automatic, however, there are criteria and regulations to follow and this has to be done through good governance. This is why organisations affiliated with CEPS and the NPOS that we worked with have to do the exercise to show that the way we operate, the way we receive funds and how we use them do not put civil society at risk and also the country at risk,” added Laurence. Payet said the exercise is important for Seychelles as it is one of the recommendations made by the Financial Action Task Force. One of its 40 recommendations requires that countries take a risk-based approach to the supervision of the NPO sector. Seychelles he said is currently non-compliant with this recommendation.   “If Seychelles remains non-compliant with the recommendation made by the FATF, we can be placed on the EU’s blacklist and this will affect the integrity of our financial sector. The last time we were blacklisted it directly impacted our financial sector,” he said.  Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, was blacklisted because the European Union was concerned with the territorial tax system adopted in December 2018. Seychelles was removed from the tax haven blacklist in 2021 after the island nation amended its legislation to bring it in line with international standards.

Newcomers Madagascar hammer Sudan to reach CHAN last 8

Debutants Madagascar swept into the African Nations Championship (CHAN) quarter-finals on Monday with a 3-0 drubbing of Sudan in Algeria. The Indian Ocean islanders also beat Ghana last week, and topping Group C earned them a last-eight showdown against Moza
Seychelles News Agency

Newcomers Madagascar hammer Sudan to reach CHAN last 8

Debutants Madagascar swept into the African Nations Championship (CHAN) quarter-finals on Monday with a 3-0 drubbing of Sudan in Algeria. The Indian Ocean islanders also beat Ghana last week, and topping Group C earned them a last-eight showdown against Mozambique on Saturday. Ghana progressed as runners-up and will face the Group E winners -- Cameroon or Niger -- in another fixture on Saturday. Tokinantenaina Randriatsiferana put Madagascar 1-0 up after 13 minutes on a chilly night in the eastern city of Constantine, beating goalkeeper Mohamed Mustafa at his near post with a low shot. Solomampionona Razafindranaivo doubled the lead on the half-hour with the goal of the match -- a superb lofted shot with the side of his foot over Mustafa. Lalaina Rafanomezantsoa completed the rout three minutes later with a simple tap-in off a low cross after Mustafa had been rounded. This is the second time Madagascar has made an instant impact in a CAF tournament after debuting in the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) four years ago and reaching the quarter-finals in Egypt. The CAN is open to home and foreign-based players while the CHAN is confined to footballers with clubs in their country of birth. But despite the restrictions, CHAN matches are classified as full internationals with results counting toward the FIFA world rankings. On Tuesday, the last two quarter-finals places will be filled after an Oran double-header in which Mali face Mauritania in Group D and Cameroon meet Niger in Group E. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles exported nearly 5 tonnes of shark fins from bycatch in 2022

Seychelles exported 4,819.5 kg of shark fins in 2022 and most of the fins are generated in bycatch of semi-industrial fishing, said a top fisheries official.  The assistant manager for monitoring, control and surveillance at the Seychelles Fishing Authorit
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles exported nearly 5 tonnes of shark fins from bycatch in 2022

Seychelles exported 4,819.5 kg of shark fins in 2022 and most of the fins are generated in bycatch of semi-industrial fishing, said a top fisheries official.  The assistant manager for monitoring, control and surveillance at the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA), Ronny Malvina, said that there is only one Seychellois exporter of shark fins and SFA currently does not register fishers specifically for the fishery of shark fins but it so happens that fishers catch sharks as bycatch. Malvina said the sharks get trapped in the fishing boats' nets, but the vessels' owners have to report it. «They have to register every shark that they caught that we presume is bycatch. If the shark is still alive it will have to be released into the sea and if it's dead it will have to be cut into pieces. Boats that are above 24 metres are not allowed to do shark finning but for those below 24 metres, SFA does not stop them from doing finning but the sharks should be cut into pieces first,» explained Malvina. The current law in Seychelles is against the act of throwing blood and other things in the sea that attract sharks. On the question of regulation for shark fishing in Seychelles, Malvina, said that there is minimum control. «I think the public should be educated on the role of sharks in the ecosystem and, therefore, act responsibly, rather than take an approach of regulation and formalisation,» he said. In a survey conducted by SFA in 2013 on artisanal fisheries, the authority found out that there are 20 different species of sharks in the waters of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. There are more sharks being caught in longline fisheries which fall under the industrial fishing sector. According to the head of the fisheries research department at the SFA, Rodney Govinden, the grey reef shark is the most common species being fished in Seychelles. The species made up 30 percent of the catch in 2020. Other common species are the scalloped hammerhead shark, spinner shark and spot-tale shark. Annually, SFA collects information on various sites about the catch through their catch assessment survey. This includes the fishing activity, gears used, and, as much as possible, the technicians record information on the size of sharks of the species. The only type of shark protected under the law in Seychelles is the whale shark, but there are other species that are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as vulnerable species. In Seychelles, like elsewhere in the world, people tend to be afraid of sharks although shark attacks rarely happen. During the period of October to March, sharks tend to swim towards the coast to give birth, SFA and the environment department are advising the public to be aware that there will be small sharks around. People are advised to stay out of the water, especially at dawn. Usually, when people see sharks close to the shore they call the established Green Line. The only recorded call for 2022 was on December 21 when a caller reported spotting a shark in the bay of Anse La Mouche on the west coast of Mahe, the main island. The senior conservation officer from the environmental department, Kevin Moumou, said the department is doing an educational and awareness programme on sharks. Seychelles has signed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which is related to the commerce of endangered species globally. The environment department is also working with tourism officials to design shark boards to educate tourists on what to do and what not to do if they ever spot a shark close to the shore, and this is an ongoing project, said Moumou.

Russia's Lavrov gets controversial welcome in S.Africa

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was welcomed by his South African counterpart for talks in Pretoria on Monday, in a visit that has sparked criticism against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine. A continental powerhouse, South Africa has refused to cond
Seychelles News Agency

Russia's Lavrov gets controversial welcome in S.Africa

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was welcomed by his South African counterpart for talks in Pretoria on Monday, in a visit that has sparked criticism against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine. A continental powerhouse, South Africa has refused to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine and resisted taking sides over the war. The conflict has triggered sweeping Western sanctions against Moscow and attempts leave it diplomatically isolated. South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor thanked Lavrov for the «most wonderful meeting» after the talks, which she earlier said would have helped «strengthen the already good relations» between the two countries. Sitting alongside Moscow's top diplomat she described Russia as a «valued partner». South Africa recently assumed the chairmanship of the BRICS, a grouping that also includes Brazil, Russia, India and China to challenge the dominant US and European-led global governance structures. Last week, it announced it will host 10-day joint maritime drills with Russia and China off the port city of Durban and Richards Bay in February. But the links with Moscow have triggered criticism in the country, with some accusing the government of having abandoned its neutral stance. «It is becoming increasingly clear that the South African government is openly siding with Russia,» said Darren Bergman, a lawmaker with the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party. «Friendly engagement» with Russia was «not appropriate» unless aimed at persuading it to end its involvement in Ukraine, he said. Lavrov told a press conference that Russia did not «refuse negotiations» with Ukraine. «But those who refuse must understand that the longer they refuse, the more difficult it is to find a solution,» he said. Officials in Moscow have blamed the closure of diplomatic channels on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has said he will not negotiate while Russian leader Vladimir Putin is in power. Despite the public overtures, the Kremlin has so far shown little willingness to soften its approach on the ground. In Pretoria, members of Ukrainian community in South Africa held a small protest against the visit, with some waving signs reading «Go home Lavrov» and «Stop the lies! Stop the war». Last week, the foundation of late South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, called the planned naval exercises «disgraceful» and «tantamount to a declaration that South Africa is joining the war against Ukraine». Pandor defended the drills, saying they were part of the natural course of relations between nations. «All countries conduct military exercises with friends,» she said. © Agence France-Presse

Burkina Faso asked France troops to quit, diplomatic note confirms

Burkina Faso asked France to move its troops out of the country within a month, according to a diplomatic letter from the authorities there to Paris obtained by AFP Sunday. President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday said Paris was awaiting clarifications from Burki
Seychelles News Agency

Burkina Faso asked France troops to quit, diplomatic note confirms

Burkina Faso asked France to move its troops out of the country within a month, according to a diplomatic letter from the authorities there to Paris obtained by AFP Sunday. President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday said Paris was awaiting clarifications from Burkina Faso after the African country's military regime said it wanted French troops to leave within a month. Macron urged «a lot of prudence», saying there was «great confusion» over the remarks reported in the media and said military junta leader Ibrahim Traore needed to take a public stance. «We are waiting for clarifications on the part of Mr Traore,» he told reporters. The foreign ministry letter, dated last Wednesday, ends the 2018 agreement under which French troops were stationed there, and sets a deadline of a month for their departure. AFP obtained the letter from a Burkinabe diplomatic source, who was not able to say whether or not France had acknowledged reception of the letter. Asked about the letter, the French president's office said it was still waiting for confirmation of the Burkinabe position at «the highest level», reiterating Macron's statement earlier Sunday. Burkina Faso's state news agency reported the details of the request late on Saturday, and a source close to the government confirmed their account to AFP. The source clarified that it was «not the severance of relations with France. The notification only concerns military cooperation agreements». - Deteriorating relations - France has 400 special forces soldiers stationed in junta-ruled Burkina to battle a jihadist insurgency, but relations have deteriorated in recent months. Since the current military regime seized power in September there have been several demonstrations calling for the departure of the French ambassador, and the French troops there. There are signs that Burkina Faso, like its neighbour Mali, is turning towards Russia as a partner. «Russia is a reasonable choice in this dynamic,» Burkinabe Prime Minister Apollinaire Kyelem de Tembela said last week following a meeting with the Russian ambassador. «We think our partnership has to be strengthened,» he added. Kyelem de Tembela visited Moscow early in December. Burkina Faso is reeling from a jihadist insurgency that swept in from neighbouring Mali in 2015. Traore seized power in a coup in late September, in the second military coup in the country in eight months. France has been concerned about a repeat of its disastrous falling-out with Mali, from which it pulled out troops last year. If French forces were to pull out of the country, Paris's preferred option appears to be to redeploy its forces in the south of neighbouring Niger, where nearly 2,000 of its soldiers are already stationed. © Agence France-Presse

Observers to be deployed on Taiwanese fishing vessels operating in Seychelles’ waters

Mechanisms for the deployment of observers onto Taiwanese vessels licensed to fish in Seychelles waters will soon be finalised, allowing deployment to take place, according to a fisheries official. The latest Sustainable Fisheries Agreement, signed by Seyche
Seychelles News Agency

Observers to be deployed on Taiwanese fishing vessels operating in Seychelles’ waters

Mechanisms for the deployment of observers onto Taiwanese vessels licensed to fish in Seychelles waters will soon be finalised, allowing deployment to take place, according to a fisheries official. The latest Sustainable Fisheries Agreement, signed by Seychelles and the Taiwan Deep Sea Tuna Longline Boatowners and Exporters Association late last year, came into effect on January 1, 2023. Fisheries principal secretary Roy Clarisse told SNA on Wednesday that «when it comes to surveillance, there is a provision in the agreement which allows us to have a human observer onboard.» Clause 10 of Section 3 of the agreement, which looks at the fishing licence conditions, states that «association fishing vessels shall take onboard scientific or compliance observers as required by the competent Seychelles authorities whenever necessary.» Having observers onboard longliner vessels is in accordance with the relevant Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) resolutions with regard to the Scientific Observer Programme and relevant Seychelles' laws and regulations, including electronic observation schemes.  Talking about an aspect of longlining fisheries - transshipment at sea - that is of concern for different bodies as the activity is commonly regarded as a loophole allowing for under-declaring of catch, Clarisse outlined that «there is a set of procedures that need to be followed when carrying out transshipment at sea.» «Transshipment at sea is not carried out without oversight - all IOTC member countries which have vessels that participate in transshipment at sea need to inform IOTC in advance. It is IOTC that monitors transshipment at sea rather than the country,» said Clarisse.  «Whenever there is transshipment at sea, the country needs to inform that they have vessel X that will carry out a transshipment with carrier vessel Y. All carrier vessels that operate within the IOTC area have a human observer onboard, who has been contracted by IOTC. So, when a transshipment takes place at sea, it is the human observer that records and monitors the process,» he continued. He said that all industrial longliners that operate in other areas of the Indian Ocean are allowed to perform transshipment at sea, however, countries of the Indian Ocean Commission - Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar, and Comoros - signed an agreement in 2017 that does not authorise transshipment in their respective waters.  «Any vessel that fishes in our water and wants to carry out transshipment must do so in port or on the high seas,» said Clarisse. When it comes to having the vessels disembark a percentage of their catch in Port Victoria, the principal secretary outlined that there are no such obligations for any country operating in Seychelles waters, however, it is encouraged. Catches of longliners are stored onboard vessels at -60 degrees Celsius and, at the moment, Seychelles does not have any facility that can process fish at this temperature. «We are working on the development of the fish processing zone on Ile du Port, and there are interests to invest in fish processing at -60 degrees. In the agreements, we also have a clause that makes provision for when onshore facilities become operational, at least there is provision for these processors to acquire fish from these vessels,» said Clarisse.

Eritrea troops leave historic Tigray city as US hails 'withdrawal'

Eritrean troops have left the ancient city of Axum in Tigray but remain in two other towns in the war-stricken Ethiopian region, local residents said Sunday, as the United States hailed a pullout seen as key to a landmark peace deal. The Eritrean army had mo
Seychelles News Agency

Eritrea troops leave historic Tigray city as US hails 'withdrawal'

Eritrean troops have left the ancient city of Axum in Tigray but remain in two other towns in the war-stricken Ethiopian region, local residents said Sunday, as the United States hailed a pullout seen as key to a landmark peace deal. The Eritrean army had moved across the border into Tigray to support federal government forces against the region's dissident authorities in a conflict that erupted in November 2020 and has since killed untold numbers of civilians and set off a desperate humanitarian crisis. A peace deal between the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) signed in South Africa's capital Pretoria in November last year silenced the guns in the north of Africa's second most populous state. But Eritrea, whose troops have been accused by the United States and rights groups of some of the worst atrocities in the conflict -- including the massacre of hundreds of civilians in Axum -- was not a party to the agreement. Witnesses told AFP on Sunday that Eritrean forces were no longer in the holy city, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its towering carved obelisks. «I don't see any Eritrean soldiers at the moment in the city,» one resident said. «They left... carrying dozens of artillery pieces, anti-aircraft guns and tanks.» Large movements of troops and armour have also been witnessed in recent days in the Tigrayan towns of Adwa and Shire, which lie on the same east-west road as Axum. Three residents of Shire said they had seen large convoys of soldiers start leaving the town on Friday in buses and trucks, some carrying banners declaring «Game Over». But locals said some troops remained on Sunday. «I saw Eritrean soldiers patrolling in the town together with members of the Ethiopian National Defence Force,» said one Shire resident. «Eritrean forces are still present in substantial numbers, even though I have seen Eritrean troops stationed in other parts of the city leave in previous days,» added a local woman in Adwa. - 'Significant progress' - The United States, and others in the West, have sought to pressure Eritrea to remove its troops, and Washington imposed sanctions targeting its armed forces as well as President Isaias Afwerki's political party. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on Saturday of their «ongoing withdrawal» in a telephone call with Abiy, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 in part for his rapprochement with Eritrea. Blinken called the withdrawal «significant progress» in the peace agreement. «The Secretary welcomed this development, noting that it was key to securing a sustainable peace in northern Ethiopia, and urged access for international human rights monitors,» State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. East African regional grouping IGAD, one of the peace process mediators, «welcomes every measure undertaken to ensure the smooth implementation of the agreement that will lead to permanent and sustainable peace in Ethiopia», its spokesman Nuur Mohamud Sheekh said in a message to AFP. With access to Tigray restricted, it is impossible to independently verify the situation on the ground. - Arch-enemies - Under the Pretoria agreement, the TPLF agreed to disarm and re-establish the authority of the federal government in return for the restoration of access to Tigray, which was largely cut off from the outside world during the war and remains in dire need of food, medicines and fuel. A subsequent deal sealed in Nairobi called for the disarmament to take place along with the pullout of foreign and non-ENDF forces, but there was no specific mention of Eritrea, one of the world's most closed-off countries whose regime considers the TPLF its arch-enemy. The war broke out when Abiy accused the TPLF, which had dominated the government in Ethiopia for three decades until his rise, of attacking federal military facilities in Tigray. Abiy unleashed a major offensive against the TPLF, which at one point in late 2021 had appeared close to advancing on the capital Addis Ababa before withdrawing to Tigray, one of several major shifts on the battlefield. Addis Ababa and Asmara denied for months any Eritrean involvement in the conflict but Abiy admitted their presence in March 2021. The departure of Eritrean troops has been announced several times before but never verified. The exact toll of the war remains unknown, although the US has said as many as 500,000 people have lost their lives, while African Union envoy Olusegun Obasanjo told the Financial Times earlier this month that up to 600,000 may have been killed. The International Crisis Group think tank and Amnesty International have described the conflict -- which has also displaced more than two million people and left millions more in need of aid -- as «one of the deadliest in the world» © Agence France-Presse

New photo shoot business in Seychelles offers 'flying dress' experience

Inspired by a concept that originated in Greece, a Seychellois entrepreneur is combining the beautiful landscape of Seychelles in a new venture to provide a luxurious and fun photo shoot experience for her clients. Dubbed 'Siren: Flying Dress Seychelles'
Seychelles News Agency

New photo shoot business in Seychelles offers 'flying dress' experience

Inspired by a concept that originated in Greece, a Seychellois entrepreneur is combining the beautiful landscape of Seychelles in a new venture to provide a luxurious and fun photo shoot experience for her clients. Dubbed 'Siren: Flying Dress Seychelles', the venture provides clients with a selection of photo shoot packages in which they can rent one or more flying dresses and have their photos taken at locations across the islands. The flying dress concept is one that started on the Greek island of Santorini and has been introduced in other touristic destinations such as Dubai, Jamaica, and Turkey. The name flying dresses is due to their extremely long trains which seemed to fly in the air once released.  Clients can rent one or more flying dresses and have their photos taken at locations across the islands. (Salifa Magnan Photography) Photo License: All Rights Reserved The founder of Siren: Flying Dress Seychelles, Chloé De Speville, told SNA that since Seychelles did not have such a service on offer «we took the opportunity to see how it would work.» «I started Siren because I wanted to start a project that was creative and fun and I saw an opportunity for something new for Seychelles. Seychelles is one of the most beautiful tourist destinations in the world and we wanted to bring a photo shoot experience that combined the landscape as well as a special element of the dresses,» said De Speville. She added that «the essence of our business is collaboration, as the founder, photography was never something I had thought about, so I needed to bring in people with photography experience and shared a similar vision. We also love to collaborate with local businesses from our flower crowns to makeup.» De Speville said wanted to start a project that was creative and fun and she saw an opportunity for something new for Seychelles. (Salifa Magnan Photography) Photo License: All Rights Reserved De Speville explained that even if the Flying Dress element of the name is like the other destination flying dress services, she feels that the name Siren gave the business a little something extra. Sirens, otherwise known as mermaids, «can mean a mystical feminine being that is alluring, draws attention and is fearless. We hope that everyone wearing one of our dresses and taking photo shoots with us embodies that type of energy,» she said. Founded in September 2022, Siren: Flying Dress Seychelles has four dresses - in red, white, green, and blue, - as well as a multi-colored skirt that clients can choose from. The dresses are free-sized and cater to clients who wear extra small to large (XS to L). «Our clientele is anyone who wants to try the experience. Since we've started operating, we've been lucky enough to shoot with models, couples on their wedding day, honeymooners, female solo travelers, and just fearless energetic women that want to feel beautiful and treat themselves to an unforgettable experience,» said De Speville. De Speville hopes that everyone wearing one of the dresses and taking photo shoots with them embodies that type of energy. (Salifa Magnan Photography) Photo License: All Rights Reserved To ensure the highest hygiene standards between sessions, De Speville outlined that the dresses are dry-cleaned and steamed by professionals. Sharing the company's plans for the year and beyond, De Speville said that Siren will soon be offering new package dresses and more locations to shoot on.  «We'd like our audience and clients to be surprised when we're ready to reveal the full details, but let's just say like there isn't any better wind than the wind out on a beautiful boat,» said De Speville.

Germany faces backlash over refusal to give Ukraine tanks

Germany faced a strong backlash from allies on Saturday over its refusal to supply Ukraine with its vaunted Leopard tanks to bolster its fighting capacity in the nearly year-long war with Russia. On Friday, some 50 nations agreed to provide Kyiv with billion
Seychelles News Agency

Germany faces backlash over refusal to give Ukraine tanks

Germany faced a strong backlash from allies on Saturday over its refusal to supply Ukraine with its vaunted Leopard tanks to bolster its fighting capacity in the nearly year-long war with Russia. On Friday, some 50 nations agreed to provide Kyiv with billions of dollars' worth of military hardware, including armoured vehicles and munitions needed to push back Russian forces. But German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius told reporters on the sidelines of the event at the US Ramstein Air Base that despite heightened expectations, «We still cannot say when a decision will be taken, and what the decision will be, when it comes to the Leopard tank.» Ukraine on Saturday denounced the «global indecision» of its allies on providing heavy-duty modern tanks, saying «today's indecision is killing more of our people.» «Every day of delay is the death of Ukrainians. Think faster,» presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted. Several allies echoed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in saying the tanks were essential to Ukraine's fight with its much larger neighbour. In a joint statement -- and a rare public criticism of Europe's top power -- the foreign ministers of the three Baltic states said they «call on Germany to provide Leopard tanks to Ukraine now.» «This is needed to stop Russian aggression, help Ukraine and restore peace in Europe quickly. Germany as the leading European power has special responsibility in this regard,» said the statement, tweeted by Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics. Berlin has been hesitant to send the Leopards or allow other nations to transfer them to Kyiv, with reports earlier in the week saying it would agree to do so only if the US provided its tanks as well. Washington has said providing its Abrams tanks to Ukraine is not feasible, citing difficulties in training and maintenance. But expectations had grown ahead of Friday's Ukraine Contact Group meeting of around 50 US-led countries that Germany would at least agree to let other countries operating Leopards transfer them to Kyiv's army. US Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina who is currently visiting Kyiv, called on both sides to supply the machines. «To the Germans: Send tanks to Ukraine because they need them. It is in your own national interest that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin loses in Ukraine.» «To the (US President Joe) Biden Administration: Send American tanks so that others will follow our lead,» he said. The pleas came as the Russian army said its troops had launched an offensive in Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia region, where fighting intensified this week after several months of an almost frozen front. In its daily report Saturday, Moscow's forces said they carried out «offensive operations» in the region and claimed to have «taken more advantageous lines and positions». - Funeral - In Kyiv on Saturday, Zelensky attended the funeral of his interior minister and other officials who were killed in a helicopter crash outside the capital Wednesday. Denys Monastyrsky, one of Zelensky's top aides, became the highest-ranking Ukrainian official to die in the war that Russia launched on February 24, 2022. The cause of the crash that killed him and 13 others when the chopper fell near a kindergarten was still under investigation. US officials said Ukraine still faced an uphill battle against Russian forces who still occupy one-fifth of the country 11 months after invading. But they spoke of a possible campaign in the coming weeks by Ukraine to retake parts of its territory. US Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley pointed to the substantial amount of equipment -- much of it armoured vehicles and artillery -- that Ukraine was being pledged at Ramstein, as well as the large-scale training of its forces by allies. «I do think it's very possible for the Ukrainians to run a significant tactical or even operational-level offensive operation to liberate as much Ukrainian territory as possible,» Milley said. But the Kremlin warned Friday that Western tanks would make little difference on the battlefield. «One should not exaggerate the importance of such supplies in terms of the ability to change something,» Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles places hope in children to keep Moutya dance alive

Seychelles is continuing its efforts to bring more visibility to the UNESCO recognised Moutya dance, with efforts now being targeted towards the youth.  The Moutya dance was introduced to the Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, by enslav
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles places hope in children to keep Moutya dance alive

Seychelles is continuing its efforts to bring more visibility to the UNESCO recognised Moutya dance, with efforts now being targeted towards the youth.  The Moutya dance was introduced to the Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, by enslaved Africans who arrived there with French settlers. It was originally performed around a bonfire, deep in the forest in the dead of night. The dance was an expression of resistance, allowing enslaved people to share their suffering and sing about the difficulties they faced, far from their masters' ears.  Since the dance was added to UNESCO's list of intangible heritage, there has been a lot of efforts to revive the dance in the island nation and the latest part of this plan was to bring it to the younger generation, so that they can keep it alive.  “We started these Moutya classes ever since it was named as UNESCO heritage, where we wanted to start teaching it to children at very young age, so that they can grow up with and retain our traditional values,” said Alan Jules, the programme’s coordinator.  Seychelles first submitted the Moutya to UNESCO for consideration in 2019. That application was initially rejected due to a lack of information but was then finally added to the list in 2021, after numerous works to bring together all the relevant information.  With more eyes now fixed on the dance, Jules added that the aim of the programme is not only to teach the dance itself, but also the main instrument, which is the Moutya drum, which is made from animal skin, traditionally goat’s skin.  “We have been going around different districts on the island and there has been a lot of young children eager to learn both the dance and drum, which is very encouraging, especially as we want to eventually have a Moutya competition at various age groups,” added Jules.  While these classes were being held during the school holidays, Jules has explained that they hope to continue it for kids during the next school breaks, while they also want to have classes for adults as well, with the hope of even having a national moutya competition in the future.  Nationwide efforts to promote Seychellois traditional music and dance  Other prominent singers, musicians and composers are also contributing to a nationwide campaign to keep traditional Seychellois music relevant to the youth. In 2021, the Seychellois Cultural Foundation, an NGO, was set up with this mission, headed by the renowned singer Jean-Marc Volcy. Singer Patrick Victor has been giving lessons to young people in playing the Moutya drum and composing songs. Furthermore, a group called SMS made up of well-known local artists Clive Camille, Joseph Sinon and Elijah put together an album in June 2022 called 'Moutya des Seychelles' to promote the music form. The album also features veterans of the Moutya beat such as Jean-Marc Volcy, Andre Dubel, Brian Matombe and Andreix Rosalie. From August 29 to September 3, 2022, the Creative Seychelles Agency (CSA) within the Seychelles National Institute for Culture, Heritage and the Arts organised 'Lafet Moutya Sesel 2022' [the Seychelles' Moutya Celebration] , which included street performances in the capital Victoria.  

Seychelles takes another step forward towards waste segregation

Waste segregation is to expanding in Seychelles as the environment ministry has received a batch of sorting bins that will be placed in public areas with the aim of further improving the country's waste management system.  On Friday, Seychelles Breweries m
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles takes another step forward towards waste segregation

Waste segregation is to expanding in Seychelles as the environment ministry has received a batch of sorting bins that will be placed in public areas with the aim of further improving the country's waste management system.  On Friday, Seychelles Breweries made a donation of 21 SeyPearl-branded 240 litre sorting bins that will serve as collecting points for aluminum cans, plastic bottles and glass bottles. The company invested SCR300,000 to make this donation a reality.  The deputy chief executive of the Landscape and Waste Management Agency (LWMA), Rahul Mangroo, told the press that the donation comes at a critical moment within the 'Cleaner Seychelles' programme, which was initiated in 2019.  «The donation we have received will help us to bring waste segregation to the community with access points where they can be installed, allowing members of the public to use them. We will place them in secure and controlled areas, as we don't want people to misuse them. These will most probably be shopping malls,» said Mangroo.  He outlined that the next step is to approach establishments and bring them on board «as they also have a role to play in ensuring that waste segregation progresses.»   Despite waste segregation existing in different areas in Seychelles, especially in the private sector, Mangroo outlined that there is a gap that exists.  «Support is better needed when it comes to the collection of segregated waste as they need to be collected separately. This needs to be strengthened. The second issue is where to bring and process the waste,» said Mangroo. The collection of PET bottles in Seychelles is a good example of where there is not much of a gap in the system, however, it is mostly in the informal sector, he explained.  «We need to introduce this in the formal sector and create a formal structure,» said Mangroo.  During the short handing-over ceremony that took place at the Seychelles Breweries factory at Le Rocher, it was also outlined that the company is one that has been spearheading the aspect of recycling, especially with its glass bottle. The company has, since 1972, a redemption system for the collecting of its bottles.  Its managing director, Conor Neiland, said that «while the idea of waste segregation is relatively new in Seychelles, it is and has become common practice across many parts of the world.»  “Indeed, the majority of visitors who come to Seychelles are accustomed to waste segregation, and it is reasonable to assume that some will take environmental protection into consideration when they are choosing a holiday destination. Therefore, there are many reasons for us all to actively adopt these practices and we should look forward to a day when waste segregation and recycling are a norm for everyone," said Neiland.  As part of the donation, Seychelles Breweries also made the commitment of running an educational programme in the media to show people how to make use of the bins and encourage segregation.

France gripped by strikes, protests against pension reform

More than a million people marched in France on Thursday to protest pension reforms, with some demonstrators clashing with police in Paris, as strikes disrupted public transport, schools and much of the civil service. The interior ministry put the total numb
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France gripped by strikes, protests against pension reform

More than a million people marched in France on Thursday to protest pension reforms, with some demonstrators clashing with police in Paris, as strikes disrupted public transport, schools and much of the civil service. The interior ministry put the total number of protesters marching against President Emmanuel Macron's plan to extend the retirement age at 1.2 million, including 80,000 in Paris. The hard-left CGT union said there had been more than two million people at protests across France, and 400,000 in the capital alone. Another day of action is planned for January 31. Around the Bastille area of Paris, some demonstrators hurled bottles, bins and smoke grenades at police who responded with tear gas and charged to disperse the troublemakers, according to AFP journalists at the scene. As the march wound down in the evening, groups of young protesters also clashed with security forces at the vast Nation plaza in eastern Paris, setting fire to several bicycles and smashing bus stops. Police said 44 people were arrested on weapons or violence charges, mostly from among the radical «Black Blocs» group, who wore masks, helmets and black clothes. Officers managed to split off the group, who numbered around a thousand, from the main demonstration, said police. Seventeen people were also arrested in Lyon, where 23,000 people protested, according to authorities. The pensions plan, presented by Macron's government last week, would raise the retirement age for most from 62 -- among the lowest in the EU -- to 64 and would increase the years of contributions required for a full pension. - 'Die on the job' - France's trade unions had called for a mass mobilisation, the first time they have united since 12 years ago, when the retirement age was hiked to 62 from 60. Police said earlier they had prepared for 550,000 to 750,000 protesters in all of France, including up to 80,000 in the capital. Macron, speaking from a French-Spanish summit in Barcelona, defended what he called a «fair and responsible reform». But demonstrators disagreed, including Hamidou, 43, who joined the protest in central Paris. «Macron wants us to die on the job,» he said. «We get up very early. Some colleagues wake up at 3 am. Working until 64 is too much.» Nearby, 15-year-old Charlie Perrin decried an ever-retreating retirement age. «The way things are going, we'll be almost unable to walk or live by the time we're given the right to retire,» she said. Almost one public-sector worker in three was on strike by midday, the government estimated. The protests even stretched as far afield as the French Polynesian capital of Papeete, where around 800 people gathered to oppose the proposed changes, authorities said. - Reform 'unjust' - In the northwestern region of Brittany, carpenter and roofer Laurent Quere, 42, said he was fiercely opposed to having to work longer. «What client in their right mind would employ us on a work site aged 64?» he said. The strikes disrupted public transport in the capital, closing one metro line and forcing others to run reduced services. Large numbers of trains were cancelled across France. Many parents were forced to look after their children, as around 40 percent of primary school teachers and more than 30 percent in the secondary system walked out, according to official estimates. Unions put the strike participation much higher, at 70 and 65 percent, respectively. Strikers at state-owned energy provider EDF said they had lowered electricity output by 7,000 megawatts, while grid operator RTE put the figure at 5,000 MW -- enough to power two cities the size of Paris. But the CGT union said the reduction would have «no impact on users». CGT chief Philippe Martinez told broadcaster Public Senat earlier Thursday that the pension reform «bundles together everyone's dissatisfaction» with the government. «We all agree that the reform is unjust.» With Paris metros and buses in disarray, basketball fans were expected to have problems getting to the sold-out NBA Paris Game between the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls in the northeast of the capital in the evening. - Two-thirds opposed - Opinion polls show that around two-thirds of French people oppose raising the retirement age, a move that comes amid high inflation and with the country still recovering from the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic. Macron's last attempt at pension reform in 2019 ended a year later when Covid-19 hit Europe. But it had already prompted the longest strike on the Paris transport network in three decades. The 45-year-old former banker vowed to press ahead with plans to push back the retirement age during his re-election campaign last year, pointing to forecasts that the system could fall into deep deficits at the end of the decade. But unions are suspicious of the overhaul and want to protect those who started working at a young age or have been toiling in physically demanding jobs. © Agence France-Presse

Seychelles receives new Ashok Leyland buses made for island use

The Seychelles Public Transport Corporation (SPTC) has received the first batch of new Ashok Leyland buses to upgrade its transport system.  The first batch of buses was presented in a ceremony on Friday morning, where guests were given the chance to ride t
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles receives new Ashok Leyland buses made for island use

The Seychelles Public Transport Corporation (SPTC) has received the first batch of new Ashok Leyland buses to upgrade its transport system.  The first batch of buses was presented in a ceremony on Friday morning, where guests were given the chance to ride the buses from the Victoria Bus terminal to the company headquarters.  In all, a total of 59 Ashok Leyland buses, which cost $2.8 million, are expected to join the company’s fleet in the coming week, with 10 of the having already arrived in the country.     The first batch of Ashok Leyland buses (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY Another 15 34-seater buses are expected to arrive in two weeks, while after that, another 24 55-seater buses will also be delivered to Seychelles - all made possible through a credit line from the Indian government.  “India’s development partnership with Seychelles is based on a genuine desire to work together, for each other’s welfare and interest,” said the Indian High Commissioner to Seychelles, Kartik Pande, who added that the partnership has enabled both countries to swiftly and effectively respond to challenges.  The first 10 vehicles are 34-seater buses that come equipped with new fuel-efficient engines, with reduced carbon emissions, onboard cameras, and comfortable seating, among others, to give passengers a better quality of service.  The buses were especially designed and manufactured in India with regard to Seychelles’ terrain, climate and the length of bus routes, in order to make them as efficient as possible.     A 34-seater bus (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY “As SPTC expands its operations to ensure that it runs an effective and reliable service, the wear and tear on the buses keep increasing and obtaining 59 new buses eases some of the pressure,” said the chairman of the SPTC board of directors, Andy Moncherry.  The SPTC celebrated 45 years of its existence last December and Moncherry has said that the company will continue looking to improve its service and will be looking to slowly replace its ageing buses.  The new bus at the Victoria Terminal (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY Currently, SPTC has a fleet of 230 buses, serving various routes on Mahe as well as Praslin, and with the arrival of the 59 new buses, it will mean that over 30 percent of its fleet will be made up of new buses.  The company’s acting CEO, Jeffy Zialor, said that the new buses will also see a more efficient payment system for passengers, in line with the company’s plans to go cashless in the future, where people boarding buses will pay using special cards or even their smartphones.  Zialor explained that will also give more safety to their drivers, who will not need to have large amounts of cash on them.  Aside from the 59 new buses, coming into SPTC’s fleet, the company is also working to bring in 12-22 fully electric-powered buses, through the aid of the Chinese government.  The new buses are expected to serve various routes in the country and will be operational as early as February.

Africa inflation to ease in 2023 after worst figures in a decade

Despite slowing growth and the worst inflation figures in a decade in 2022, African economies remain «resilient,» and double-digit price hikes are expected to ease, an African Development Bank report said Thursday. Economies across Africa's 54 na
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Africa inflation to ease in 2023 after worst figures in a decade

Despite slowing growth and the worst inflation figures in a decade in 2022, African economies remain «resilient,» and double-digit price hikes are expected to ease, an African Development Bank report said Thursday. Economies across Africa's 54 nations were hard-hit by the global economic fallout of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, as well as the impacts of climate change and aftershocks of the Covid pandemic. A stronger dollar, inflation, and slowdown in demand for exports to major trading partners in Europe and China, had «dire consequences» for the continent's economies, said the ADB report. «An estimated 15 million additional people were driven into extreme poverty in Africa due to higher global energy and food prices in 2022, exacerbating the increase in extreme poverty induced by the COVID-19 pandemic,» said the ADB. Economic growth dropped from 4.8 percent in 2021 to 3.8 percent in 2022. The biggest slowdown was in southern Africa, dragged down by economic powerhouse South Africa's energy crisis, and weak domestic demand. China's re-opening after strict Covid policies is expected to boost growth across the continent, estimated at around four percent this year and in 2024. Central Africa is forecast to see the fastest growth, bolstered by favourable commodity prices. Inflation in Africa increased from 12.9 percent in 2012 to 13.8 percent in 2022, «the highest in more than a decade.» Price hikes were most brutal in East Africa, which experienced 25.3 percent inflation. The country with the worst numbers was Zimbabwe, where inflation hit 285 percent up from 98.5 percent the previous year. Across the continent, the tightening of monetary policy and an improvement in food supply will see inflation slowly ease to 13.5 percent in 2023. A further drop to 8.8 percent is forecast for 2024, lower than pre-Covid levels. The ADB said African economies «remain resilient with a stable outlook,» however «cautious optimism» was needed. © Agence France-Presse

SIDS: We won’t be able to overcome climate challenges on our own, says Seychelles’ President

During the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2023 that took place from January 16 to 19, the President of Seychelles, Wavel Ramkalawan participated in a panel session hosted by Masdar, alongside the President of Palau, Surangel S. Whipps Jr., according to a pres
Seychelles News Agency

SIDS: We won’t be able to overcome climate challenges on our own, says Seychelles’ President

During the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2023 that took place from January 16 to 19, the President of Seychelles, Wavel Ramkalawan participated in a panel session hosted by Masdar, alongside the President of Palau, Surangel S. Whipps Jr., according to a press statement from State House. The chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy, H.E Eng. Awaidha Al Marar delivered the opening address of the session, which was moderated by CNN anchor and correspondent Eleni Giokos, President Ramkalawan and President Whipps then shared their perspectives on the roles and responsibilities of leaders in climate control, combating climate change and achieving net zero emissions. President Ramkalawan spoke of the real-life examples and efforts being implemented by Seychelles as a small island developing state (SIDS) in the Indian Ocean. The panel session hosted by Masdar in Abu Dhabi (State House) Photo License: CC-BY “Seychelles, like all SIDS, will continue to keep moving forward. Our existence is being threatened. Being small, remote and vulnerable to various external shocks, means we will be not able to overcome these challenges including climate change on our own. We are counting on the support of all stakeholders. The world has become more globalised and multilateralism will be more important than ever to the small states as it provides more access to the global fora, allowing us to be heard, to address our unique social, economic, and environmental challenges and to find solutions together with the rest of the world” said Ramkalawan. Furthermore, Ramkalawan highlighted some of Seychelles conservation efforts including the pledge to protect 100 percent of all its mangroves and seagrass meadows this year, adding to the already 32 percent protected area of its ocean and 50 percent of its forest. Ramkalawan and Whipps also discussed “the impact of climate change on small nations, the importance of the COP process to small nations, examining what the country is doing to adapt to climate change and the latest trends shaping the world’s sustainability agenda were also addressed.” The former President of Seychelles, James Michel, was also present at the event, and following the panel discussion “expressed appreciation on how President Ramkalawan defended and promoted Seychelles”, said State House.

Seychelles’ Chagossians seek to be part of ongoing negotiations between UK and Mauritius

Chagossians living in Seychelles have also called for them to be part of ongoing negotiations between Mauritius and the United Kingdom over the return of Chagos Islands to Mauritius.  The spokesperson of the Seychelles Chagossian Committee, Pierre Prosper,
Seychelles News Agency

Seychelles’ Chagossians seek to be part of ongoing negotiations between UK and Mauritius

Chagossians living in Seychelles have also called for them to be part of ongoing negotiations between Mauritius and the United Kingdom over the return of Chagos Islands to Mauritius.  The spokesperson of the Seychelles Chagossian Committee, Pierre Prosper, made the statement to SNA when contacted with regards to the dispute between the Mauritius government and the Chagos community over their lack of inclusion in the negotiations.  “We, the Chagossians from Seychelles, have already sent a letter to the United Kingdom asking that we be as part of the negotiations,” said Prosper, who says he feels the Chagossians have right to be heard in this matter.  It is to be noted that the letter refers to the fact that the Mauritius government, which lost the Chagos Islands before the country was granted Independence from Britain in 1968, and now are looking for the islands to be returned to them.  Three years before independence, the U.K. severed the Chagos Islands from the rest of Mauritius’ territory so it could lease one of the islands, Diego Garcia, to the U.S. for the establishment of a military base, which still exists there today.  The British government then forcibly deported 2,000 Chagossians.  According to a book published by barrister and historian Philippe Sands, The Last Colony, the British shut down the islands’ plantations and cut off food supplies, with families told they had no option but to leave by ship by April 27, 1973, or slowly starve.  With Mauritius seeking to be given back the islands, according to Prosper, what the Chagossians want is to be given priority to return to the islands should they want to, while they also want the Chagos to be autonomous, the same way another island that is part of Mauritius is - Rodrigues.  “In case Mauritius does not agree to want we want, then we are asking that a referendum is done, so that Chagossians can vote as they whether they want to be part of Mauritius or the UK,” added Prosper.  According an article published this month in the UK newspaper The Guardian, “A legal attempt has been launched to halt negotiations between the UK and Mauritius over the sovereignty of the Chagos Islands, Britain’s last African colony, claiming Chagossian people’s views are being ignored.”  It further states that, “Bernadette Dugasse, who was born on Diego Garcia, an island within what is known today as the British Indian Ocean Territory, is seeking judicial review of the government’s approach to the talks.”  According to Prosper, they are supporting this, but they also want full reparations to be paid from the British government to all the people who were made to leave their homes all these years ago.

New Zealand PM Ardern announces shock resignation

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, a global figurehead of progressive politics, shocked the country Thursday by announcing she would resign from office in a matter of weeks. The 42-year-old -- who steered the country through natural disasters, the Co
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New Zealand PM Ardern announces shock resignation

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, a global figurehead of progressive politics, shocked the country Thursday by announcing she would resign from office in a matter of weeks. The 42-year-old -- who steered the country through natural disasters, the Covid pandemic, and its worst-ever terror attack -- said she no longer had «enough in the tank». «I am human. We give as much as we can for as long as we can and then it's time. And for me, it's time,» she said at a meeting of members of her Labour Party. Ardern said she would step down no later than February 7, less than three years after winning a landslide election to secure her second term in office. Since that 2020 peak of «Jacindamania», Ardern's government has struggled -- its popularity hampered by soaring inflation, a looming recession and a resurgent conservative opposition. «I believe that leading a country is the most privileged job anyone could ever have, but also one of the more challenging,» Ardern said. «You cannot and should not do it unless you have a full tank, plus a bit in reserve for those unexpected challenges.» Ardern won international acclaim for her empathetic handling of the 2019 Christchurch mosque massacre, in which 51 Muslim worshippers were killed and another 40 wounded. Later that year she was praised for her decisive leadership during the fatal White Island (also known as Whakaari) volcano eruption. On Thursday she cited her government's actions on housing affordability, climate change and child poverty as further sources of pride. «And we've done that while responding to some of the biggest threats to the health and economic wellbeing of our nation arguably since World War II,» Ardern said. Featured on the covers of British Vogue and Time magazine, there was a perception that Ardern was more popular abroad than she was at home. At her peak she was a domestic force, but her government has been steadily sliding in the polls over the last year. «It's about time. She's wrecked the economy and food prices have skyrocketed,» said Esther Hedges from Cambridge on New Zealand's north island. «I'm not happy with her and I don't know anyone who is,» the 65-year-old added. Christina Sayer, 38, said Ardern was «the best prime minister we have had». «I like the type of person she is and she cares about people. I'm sorry to see her go.» The stress of the job has been evident, with Ardern showing a rare lapse of poise last month when she was unwittingly caught calling an opposition politician an «arrogant prick». New Zealand actor and Hollywood veteran Sam Neill said Ardern was frequently targeted by social media «bullies». «She deserved so much better,» he said in an online statement. - A new leader - New Zealand will choose its next prime minister in a general election held on October 14, Ardern announced. She said she would continue to serve as an MP until then. Her departure leaves a void at the top of the Labour party, with her deputy Grant Robertson swiftly ruling out a tilt at the leadership. Although recent polls indicate a centre-right coalition will likely win the election, Ardern said that was not the reason for her resignation. «I am not leaving because I believe we cannot win the next election, but because I believe we can and will,» she said. «I am leaving because with such a privileged job comes a big responsibility. The responsibility to know when you are the right person to lead -- and also when you're not.» Ardern was the second prime minister in the world to give birth while in office, after Pakistan's Benazir Bhutto in 1990. She said she was looking forward to spending more time with her daughter Neve, who is due to start school later this year, and finally getting married to her partner, TV personality Clarke Gayford. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese led international tributes to Ardern, saying she had «shown the world how to lead with intellect and strength». «She has demonstrated that empathy and insight are powerful leadership qualities,» Albanese said. The official spokesman for Rishi Sunak said the British leader was «grateful to Prime Minister Ardern and for her friendship and support during his premiership». «The work between our two countries defending democratic values and supporting Ukraine has been vital in recent months and years,» he added. The US ambassador to New Zealand, Tom Udall, said Ardern was an «incredible world leader». © Agence France-Presse

EU takes on US, China over clean tech in Davos

The EU's chief announced ambitious plans Tuesday to challenge China and the United States in the race for clean-tech industries, as a battle over green trade emerged at the World Economic Forum. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen slammed wha
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EU takes on US, China over clean tech in Davos

The EU's chief announced ambitious plans Tuesday to challenge China and the United States in the race for clean-tech industries, as a battle over green trade emerged at the World Economic Forum. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen slammed what she described as «aggressive attempts» to convince Europe's clean technology operations to relocate to China through cheap labour and more lenient regulations. «China heavily subsidies its industry and restricts access to its market for EU companies,» she said, warning that the EU would «not hesitate» to investigate such aid that distorts the market. «We want to cooperate, we want to work together, climate change needs a global approach, but it has to be a fair approach and a level-playing field,» she told the world's global political and business elite at the annual meeting in the Swiss Alpine village of Davos. She also renewed European concerns over the US Inflation Reduction Act, a climate subsidy package worth around $370 billion, though she said both sides have been working to find «solutions» that could include allowing EU-made electric cars to benefit from the act. «Our aim should be to avoid disruptions in transatlantic trade and investment. We should work towards ensuring that our respective incentive programmes are fair and mutually reinforcing,» she said. The week-long forum is taking place under the theme of «cooperation in a fragmented world» as the planet faces a perfect storm of crises -- Russia's invasion of Ukraine, soaring inflation, the spectre of recession and climate catastrophes. But tensions between world powers still emerged at the meetings in Davos. - 'Cold War mentality' - Speaking after von der Leyen, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He called for an end to «Cold War mentality» and repeated Beijing's opposition to «unilateralism and protectionism». At a separate panel discussion, US climate envoy John Kerry said countries complaining about the Inflation Reduction Act should instead try to imitate the United States. «The reaction of other countries shouldn't be, 'oh my god, you shouldn't be doing that, that's putting us in an unfair position'. Do it, too,» he said. «Everybody's got to do the same thing to accelerate this process even more,» Kerry added. Von der Leyen announced projects to step up European efforts to build clean energies key to the world's aspirational goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The plans include a «sovereignty fund» to boost research, innovation and strategic industrial projects in efforts to achieve net-zero emissions. She also said a «Net Zero Industry Act» would be proposed to focus investment on strategic projects along the entire supply chain. «Those who develop and manufacture the technology that will be the foundation of tomorrow's economy will have the greatest competitive edge,» she said. «To get ahead of the competition we need to keep investing in strengthening our industrial base and making Europe more investment and innovation friendly,» the EU chief added. But she also called for cooperation between «like-minder partners», from the United States to Ukraine, to form a «critical raw materials club» in order to slash Europe's dependence on China for the rare earths that are needed to make clean technology such as electric car batteries. - 'Steadfast support to Ukraine' - The war in Ukraine remained a key topic of discussion at the WEF. Ukrainian ministers, military leaders, mayors and soldiers form one of the largest national delegations as Kyiv lobbies for more weapons and financial support from the West. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is set to appear in person on Wednesday in Davos, faced public pressure from his EU partners to authorise the export of German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine. «I like to play chess. You have to take the move and others will follow,» Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda told delegates. «Someone has to take this leadership and take this decision to support Ukraine because the tanks become a very strategic factor of this war, especially now,» he added. The WEF has returned to its traditional wintry date after three years of Covid disruptions that forced the Swiss foundation to hold virtual meetings and delay its in-person meeting last year until May. Liu's visit marked a high-profile return for China after Beijing lifted travel curbs last week following three years of Covid restrictions, which limited the country's attendance at last year's WEF. «We very much welcome international friends to come to China,» Liu said. © Agence France-Presse

Drone operators urged to register and respect guidelines in Seychelles

Users of unmanned aircraft (UA) or drones in Seychelles are being asked to register their drones with the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) for authorisation to use them. In view of the increasing use of drones in Seychelles, especially for recreati
Seychelles News Agency

Drone operators urged to register and respect guidelines in Seychelles

Users of unmanned aircraft (UA) or drones in Seychelles are being asked to register their drones with the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) for authorisation to use them. In view of the increasing use of drones in Seychelles, especially for recreational and commercial purposes such as for media, rescue and monitoring on the islands, SCAA started registration for their uses in March last year. All drone operators are therefore required to register their drones on the SCAA Drones Database and submit them for processing. A confirmation of the registration will be initiated by SCAA once the process has been completed. «Drone registration first started on March 2, 2021, and so far, some 2,558 drones have been registered between 2021 and 2022. Drone flight authorisations issued by SCAA in 2022 is 98 to date,» said David Labrosse, the general manager for safety and security regulations. The registration of drones and its guidelines are also applicable to any foreigners looking to use drones in Seychelles. Additionally, foreigners will need to seek authorisation from the Department of Information and Communication (DICT) and can send an email to Communications@ict.gov.sc . Labrosse told SNA that for drones that are not registered, users will have limitations in terms of their scope and areas of operation, especially the more sophisticated ones that are used for private and commercial purposes. As for the use of drones not registered, Labrosse said that «sanctions against unregistered drones, is a work still in progress. As long as the drones do not infringe public areas, controlled or restricted airspace as published, the risk of legal action will be greatly reduced.»   He said that the use of drones can cause numerous problems, especially in areas where it can affect other air vehicles, such as near airports or certain flight paths. SCAA has, therefore, launched a campaign for the registration of drones, providing safety guidelines to ensure proper monitoring of their usage and the safety of airlines around the airports. «It is critical that their operation does not present any risk to aircraft, helicopters and their passengers, including the general public, who are protected under national laws and international laws emanating from the Chicago Convention,» said the SCAA. The safety guideline provides information on how unmanned aircraft/drones can be operated in a safe manner within the territory of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean. According to the guidelines, drones are not allowed to be flown near airports as well as in the approach and departure paths of these airports and helipads, unless given specific authorisation by the SCAA. Drone operators also need permission from the SCAA to fly over towns, congested areas, groups of people in public areas or public events as well as private properties, industrial areas or to take photographs of any kind which may constitute a breach of privacy, where this is considered an offence under the laws of Seychelles.

“Successful discussions”: Seychelles’ President and Masdar envision new renewable energy projects

Seychelles’ President Wavel Ramkalawan chaired successful discussions with a Masdar delegation on Tuesday, during his participation at the 2023 Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), according to a State House press release on Wednesday. The meeting, which
Seychelles News Agency

“Successful discussions”: Seychelles’ President and Masdar envision new renewable energy projects

Seychelles’ President Wavel Ramkalawan chaired successful discussions with a Masdar delegation on Tuesday, during his participation at the 2023 Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), according to a State House press release on Wednesday. The meeting, which was held with the Masdar chief green hydrogen officer, Mohammad Abdelqader El Ramahi and the senior manager of project management services, Simon Bräunigerr, focused on the way forward for the implementation of a comprehensive Seychelles Electricity Generation Plan. “This is in line with the growth of the Seychelles economy and the increased need to implement an electricity generation plan that will meet the long-term demands associated with the rise in economic activities whilst also addressing the nationally determined contributions (NDC) commitments made by Seychelles government at COP27,” said State House.  During the meeting, the Seychelles delegation proposed to Masdar several projects for consideration that will get the island nation on its path to “strengthening its role further in the global combat against climate change,” said State House. Various key renewable energy projects were proposed for the islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue. These include renewable photovoltaic (PV) projects in the form of agrivoltaic PV, floating PV systems and a PV plant mounted on elevated structures as well as others. The Public Utilities Corporation (PUC) “also recognises the need to transit to a cleaner fuel in the short to medium term, hence discussions with the Masdar team also revolved around potential conventional generation projects such as transitioning to hydrogen,” according to the statement. Following the talks held in Abu Dhabi, confirmation of the feasible projects will be approved and agreements between the PUC and Masdar are expected be drawn up. Masdar is the UAE government's renewable energy company based in Abu Dhabi, also known as the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company.

Miss Universe: Seychelles' beauty queen returns home and praises impact of pageant

Gabriella Gonthier, the Seychelles' participant at the 71st Miss Universe Pageant in the United States, has returned to home this week and has described the experience as transformative. “I feel accomplished and proud to have reached the Miss Universe plat
Seychelles News Agency

Miss Universe: Seychelles' beauty queen returns home and praises impact of pageant

Gabriella Gonthier, the Seychelles' participant at the 71st Miss Universe Pageant in the United States, has returned to home this week and has described the experience as transformative. “I feel accomplished and proud to have reached the Miss Universe platform, which allowed me to better understand my purpose as an individual and how the lessons I’ve learned can be applied to society,” said Gabriella. The pageant was held at the New Orleans Morial Convention Centre in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, on January 14, 2023, and was won by R'Bonney Gabriel of the United States as Miss Universe 2022. It is the United States' first victory in 10 years, and the ninth victory of the country - the most by any country in the pageant's history. 84 countries competed at this year’s event and this was in fact only the second time Seychelles has competed at the prestigious pageant. In 1995, Maria Payet represented the island nation. Gabriella Gonthier in her golden evening gown (Gabriella Gonthier) Photo License: All Rights Reserved Speaking to SNA, Gabriella said that she is very happy with her showing at this year’s event. ‘I am proud of my performance, as I wanted to reflect transformation, poise, confidence in silence and ultimate class. I watched my performance and know that I portrayed that, and I am very happy,” the 24-year-old added. Miss Universe is an annual international beauty pageant that is run by a United States and Thailand based Miss Universe Organisation. It is one of the most watched pageants in the world with an estimated audience of over 500 million viewers in over 190 territories. Along with Miss World, Miss International, and Miss Earth, Miss Universe is one of the Big Four international beauty pageants. Gabriella in the swimsuit category of the Miss Universe pageant (Gabriella Gonthier) Photo License: All Rights Reserved For Gabriella, she explained that a lot went into preparing for the event itself, stating that the pageant goes beyond ‘looking pretty’, where she had to make a lot of sacrifices. “The experience was a breeze and a blast. I enjoyed every moment of it and in doing so I have become more disciplined to understand new things,” said the young lady, who works as monitoring and evaluation officer at the Ministry of Fisheries in Seychelles. The 2023 Miss Universe will be held in El Salvador before the end of 2023, the last time it was hosted in 1975, making the return of hosting the event in Latin America since 2011.

Two thirds of reef sharks and rays risk extinction: study

Nearly two-thirds of the sharks and rays that live among the world's corals are threatened with extinction, according to new research published Tuesday, with a warning this could further imperil precious reefs. Coral reefs, which harbour at least a quarter o
Seychelles News Agency

Two thirds of reef sharks and rays risk extinction: study

Nearly two-thirds of the sharks and rays that live among the world's corals are threatened with extinction, according to new research published Tuesday, with a warning this could further imperil precious reefs. Coral reefs, which harbour at least a quarter of all marine animals and plants, are gravely menaced by an array of human threats, including overfishing, pollution and climate change. Shark and ray species -- from apex predators to filter feeders -- play an important role in these delicate ecosystems that «cannot be filled by other species», said Samantha Sherman, of Simon Fraser University in Canada and the wildlife group TRAFFIC International. But they are under grave threat globally, according to the study in the journal Nature Communications, which assessed extinction vulnerability data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to look at 134 species of sharks and rays linked to reefs. The authors found 59 per cent of coral reef shark and ray species are threatened with extinction, an extinction risk almost double that of sharks and rays in general. Among these, five shark species are listed as critically endangered, as well as nine ray species -- all so-called «rhino rays» that look more like sharks than stingrays. - Keeping reefs healthier - «It was a bit surprising just how high the threat level is for these species,» Sherman told AFP. «Many species that we thought of as common are declining at alarming rates and becoming more difficult to find in some places.» Sherman said the biggest threat to these species by far is overfishing. Sharks are under most threat in the Western Atlantic and parts of the Indian Ocean, whereas the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia are the highest risks for rays. These regions are heavily fished and do not currently have management in place to reduce the impact on these species, said Sherman. Last year countries at a Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species summit approved a plan to protect dozens of shark and ray species, adding 21 coral reef species in addition to the 18 species already covered by the regulations. Sherman said this was «a step in the right direction», but added that a global effort was needed to improve implementation, while the regulations themselves do not stop these species being killed as «bycatch». She added that the study showed greater risks to rays on coral reefs, but that they enjoy fewer protections. «The solutions are similar for both sharks and rays -- limits on fishing, well placed and properly implemented Marine Protected Areas, and alternative livelihood solutions to reduce the number of fishers on coral reefs,» Sherman said. Coral reef fisheries directly support the livelihoods and food security of over half a billion people, but this crucial ecosystem is facing an existential threat by overexploitation and global heating. Human-driven climate change has spurred mass coral bleaching as the world's oceans get warmer. Modelling research has shown that even if the Paris climate goal of holding global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is reached, 99 percent of the world's coral reefs will not be able to recover. At two degrees of warming, the number rose to 100 percent. «We know coral reef health is declining, largely due to climate change, however, coral reef sharks and rays can help keep reefs healthier for longer,» said Sherman. The study was carried out by an international team of experts from universities, government and regional oceanic and fishery organisations as well as non-governmental organisations across the world. © Agence France-Presse

Vietnam president resigns amid major anti-graft purge

Vietnam President Nguyen Xuan Phuc has resigned, state media said Tuesday, after days of rumours he was about to be sacked as part of a major anti-corruption drive that has seen several ministers fired. The sudden departure is a highly unusual move in commun
Seychelles News Agency

Vietnam president resigns amid major anti-graft purge

Vietnam President Nguyen Xuan Phuc has resigned, state media said Tuesday, after days of rumours he was about to be sacked as part of a major anti-corruption drive that has seen several ministers fired. The sudden departure is a highly unusual move in communist Vietnam, where political changes are normally carefully orchestrated, with an emphasis on cautious stability. Only one other Communist Party president has ever stepped down, and that was for health reasons. «The resignation of President Nguyen Xuan Phuc is an unprecedented move in the history of the party,» said Nguyen Khac Giang, research fellow at the Vietnam Centre for Economic and Strategic Studies (VESS). State media said the Communist Party had ruled he was responsible for wrongdoing by senior ministers under him during his 2016-2021 stint as prime minister, before he became president. Two deputy prime ministers were sacked this month in an anti-corruption purge that has led to the arrest of dozens of officials, with many of the graft allegations relating to deals done as part of Vietnam's Covid pandemic response. Phuc «took political responsibility as leader when several officials, including two deputy prime ministers and three ministers committed violations and shortcomings, causing very serious consequences», state news agency VNA said, quoting the party central committee's official statement. Earlier this month, the country's rubber stamp National Assembly removed Pham Binh Minh and Vu Duc Dam from their positions as deputy prime ministers. Minh was a minister of foreign affairs while Dam was in charge of the country's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. At least 100 officials and businesspeople, including Dam's assistant, have been arrested in connection with a scandal involving the distribution of Covid-19 testing kits. Thirty-seven people -- many of them senior diplomats and police -- have also been arrested in an investigation over the repatriation of Vietnamese during the pandemic. - Corruption, infighting - After closing its borders to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Vietnam organised nearly 800 charter flights to bring citizens home from 60 countries and territories. But travellers faced complicated procedures while paying exorbitant airfares and quarantine fees to get back to Vietnam. Phuc, 68, was elevated to the largely ceremonial role of president in April 2021 after winning plaudits for the country's broadly successful handling of the pandemic. Authoritarian Vietnam is run by the Communist Party and officially led by the party general secretary, president and prime minister, with key decisions made by the politburo, which now numbers 16. Le Hong Hiep, a fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore, said Phuc's resignation may also be linked to political infighting. «It's mainly related to corruption investigations but we cannot rule out the possibility that his political rivals also wanted to remove him from his position for political reasons,» he told AFP. Communist Party leader Nguyen Phu Trong, the architect of what is Vietnam's largest-ever anti-corruption drive, is due to step down in 2026. «Some politicians will try to get the (top) prize, and because of the competition from their rivals -- in this case Mr Phuc is one of them -- they may want to remove him to clear the way for the other candidate to get the top job.» Among the candidates to replace Phuc is To Lam, the current minister of public security, said Hiep, adding that the change would likely not have significant consequences for the direction of the country. «In Vietnam, policies are made collectively by the politburo so I don't think his departure will lead to major policy changes or any problems with the political system.» © Agence France-Presse

Wreckage removal: Seychelles Coast Guard and U.S. Navy complete mission

In December 2022, divers from Seychelles and the U.S. completed a mission to remove a shipwreck at the ex-Seychelles Coast Guard pier, clearing the obstruction for the upcoming Port Victoria expansion and rehabilitation project.  The dive engagement activit
Seychelles News Agency

Wreckage removal: Seychelles Coast Guard and U.S. Navy complete mission

In December 2022, divers from Seychelles and the U.S. completed a mission to remove a shipwreck at the ex-Seychelles Coast Guard pier, clearing the obstruction for the upcoming Port Victoria expansion and rehabilitation project.  The dive engagement activity was organised by the U.S. Embassy to Mauritius and Seychelles in Port Louis in collaboration with the U.S. Commander Task Force 68 (CTF-68), the Seychelles Ports Authority (SPA) and the Seychelles Coast Guard (SCG).  Thirteen divers of the U.S. Navy, together with their counterparts from the Seychelles Coast Guard, undertook the task between December 3 and December 23, 2022.   Due to the size of the vessel and the amount of sediment that has accumulated in it, the U.S. Underwater Construction Team 1 (UTC1) divers used exothermic cutting tools to break the submerged wreckage of the Oceans Bounty vessel, which sank in 2018, into smaller pieces. These pieces were then removed from the water.   The Seychelles Coast Guard's visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) and diving officer, Luigi Loizeau, told SNA that it was a monumental task to remove the wreck as it was a large vessel, and had collected a lot of sediment.«  »We managed to cut it from the wheelhouse to the smokestack for the duration of time that the CTF-68 divers were here. Before the team left, the Port requested that a few holes are cut in the hull of the vessel, with plans to have it hoisted,« said Loizeau.   Removal of the wreckage in Port Victoria (Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC:BY He further outlined that the mission was a learning opportunity for Seychelles' divers as the local team »does not carry out salvage operations as they are more along the lines of technical diving.«  »We are looking to move in such directions, hence one of the reasons why we participated in this event. We got first-hand experience through personnel who actually do this work. We got to see the procedures that are followed, the sequence of events that have to happen, and safety and precautions. I firmly believe that with the right training and equipment, our divers can carry out similar jobs,« said Loizeau.  In a U.S. Navy article published at the beginning of January, the assistant officer in charge for the UCT1's detachment to CTF-68, Estephan Lopez, said that »working with the Seychelles Coast Guard has been a great experience.«  »They are an extremely professional group of divers and were more than willing to contribute their diving expertise throughout the job. I look forward to working with them more in the future,« said Lopez.  In a previous interview the Seychelles Port Authority's chief executive, Sony Payet, outlined that »there are other phases that will be discussed with the U.S. Embassy and the Seychelles Coast Guard so that we can slowly remove the other wreckage, ahead of the development work on the port."  Oceans Bounty is the first of seven wrecks to be removed in the area. During the expansion of Port Victoria, the new key wall to be constructed will reach the area that was cleared.  Aside from the salvation mission, a hydrographic survey of the entire port was also carried out. Through the survey, the relevant authorities are now in a better position to understand the underwater topography of the area, and can identify ship passageways.  A total of over 1.7 million square metres was mapped, constructing a clear, concise, and detailed map of the Port of Victoria's topography. The UTC1 produced 3D imaging of other identified underwater hazards.

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