SFP technical assistance to the islands of Saint Helena and Tristan da Cunha yield concrete results

Remotely located deep in the South Atlantic with thousands of kilometres of water separating the two, the islands of Saint Helena and Tristan da Cunha make up, together with Ascension Island, a single British Overseas Territory. Given their location, they have both developed fishing as priority activities.

The operators and authorities on Saint Helena wanted to continue exporting to the European Union, while those on Tristan da Cunha were seeking access to this new market. To assist them, Dr Ian Goulding carried out missions in August and September 2009, under the SFP Programme Module 1, to create and develop Competent Authorities (CAs) to monitor food security conditions.
Until the end of 2009 Saint Helena was authorised to export to the EU by the terms of a derogation. To retain access to this market it was necessary to provide guarantees on the accrediting of testing laboratories and the adoption of new legislation. On 14 December 2009 the Commission decided to place the island on the list of countries authorised to export.
The mission had formulated advice regarding both the content of the legislation (licensing system, etc.) and the structure of the Competent Authority. It had also considered the fate of three Saint Helenian freezer trawlers that operate in the South Atlantic but that do not land their catches on the island.
In May 2010, the SFP programme will train inspectors in Cape Town, where much of the island’s catches are landed. While the European Commission accepted that the inspections on the island of Tristan da Cunha are independent of those on Saint Helena, it considered it imperative to improve the competence of the inspection services personnel. Fish inspectors from Tristan da Cunha will therefore also attend these training courses.
Some basic equipment will be purchased for the Ministry of Fishing, the CA, while certain analyses will continue to be carried out in South Africa. To limit the initial investment, it was recommended that the Commission authorisation should be limited to raw frozen (whole and tails) lobster (Jasus tristani), despite the fact there are processing facilities on the island.
The work plan drawn up foresees the start of exports to the EU in July 2010, a date that corresponds to the opening of the lobster season.
For further information, reports can be found on the SFP website numbered CA048STH, CA043TAA and CA056TAA.