The Seychelles authorities this week confirmed the implementation of a vaccination plan for all crews of vessels operating in the Seychelles EEZ, including European tuna vessels.
The decision that follows the deaths in late March, of two crewmen of a Sapmer tuna purse seiner, after which the company demanded quicker access to vaccines for crews.
More than 60% of the Seychelles population has already received a first dose of covid-19 vaccine, and the country aims to be the first to fully vaccinate its population. Last year, fishing companies contributed $150,000 to support the programme.
Shipping agents are working with the Indian Ocean Archipelago Health Care Agency to implement the plan.
‘Fishing is the only industry supporting the economy right now,’ a local official commented.
‘We have to make sure that this continues. There is no point in vaccinating dockers and agency staff, and not fishing crews.’
Two crewmen on board Sapmer purse seiner Belle Isle fell ill two weeks into a trip, despite having been previously screened and having isolated for seven days.
Belle Isle was 48 hours from Mahé and oxygen supplied on board were used to care for the two casualties, while more oxygen was brought to Belle Isle by other fishing vessels. The two crewmen were transferred to hospital on arrival, but died on 29th and 31st March.
The remaining 32 crew and security team were screened and all tested positive for Covid-19, although most were asymptomatic. Pending a crew change, some of Belle Isle’s crew have been isolated in hotels in the Seychelles.