The Mauritius Cooperative Union and the International Cooperative Fisheries Organisation (ICFO) of South Korea signed a Memorandum of Understanding to promote small-scale fisheries on Monday June 9, 2014.

The agreement was inked at Xia restaurant, Bagatelle, in the presence of Mauritius business minister Jim Seetaram and the Mauritius Cooperative Union Chairman Pravin Kumar Kasary, as well as members of the Korean delegation including ICFO Chairman Lee Jong Koo, his secretary Kang-Shik Lee and ICFO General Secretary Kwang-bum Park.

The delegation of the ICFO from Korea, which was on mission to Mauritius till June 10, 2014, had as its objective the consolidation of relationship with fishing industries and fisheries co-operatives in Mauritius.

In his address, Jim Seetaram noted that ICFO – which is a branch of the International Co-operative Alliance – aims to promote cooperative ideals throughout the world, especially for the promotion of small-scale fisheries.

“Throughout the world, small-scale fisheries are confronted with fierce and unfair competition from industrial fisheries which pose a threat to their survival. Furthermore, the small fisheries sector faces other inherent issues such as lack of credit and training,” he said.

Jim Seetaram expressed his conviction that with the help of the ICFO, the Ministry of Business, Enterprises and Cooperatives of Mauritius will take giant strides towards the betterment of the condition of small fishermen, which will also serve to benefit the economy at large.

Finally, on the same occasion, the IFCO made a donation of computer equipment to the Mauritius Cooperative Union.

Mauritius, with an overall population of 1.29 million, has 2,500 fishermen who are officially registered, while as many as 7,000 people earn a living from small-scale fishing, directly or indirectly.

In addition, small-scale fishermen have 40-45 % of the market share.

Additionally, due to the growing level of completion that small-scale fishermen are facing, the government has put in place several measures to look after their welfare.

Since December 2013, three schemes have been implemented by the Cooperative Development Fund in collaboration with the Mauritius Post and Co-operative Bank (MPCB) to finance various co-operative projects.

One scheme, the Special Scheme for Fishermen Cooperatives, has been specifically designed for small-scale fishermen who have organized themselves into cooperatives.

Besides, capacity-building programmes are regularly provided to small-scale fishermen so that they can graduate to the level of fishermen-entrepreneurs.

For small-scale aquaculture, provision of fish cages and fingerlings is being made available to fishermen cooperative societies. Provision is also made for fish-aggregating devices for off-lagoon fishing.

Image (Bakwa Lodge): Mauritius has 2,500 fishermen who are officially registered, while as many as 7,000 people earn a living from small-scale fishing, directly or indirectly.

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