The Indian Ocean Tuna (IOT) company in Seychelles has expanded its storage capacity to ensure stock will last until February 2021 in view of the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, a top official said on Thursday.
Jean-Francois Ferrari, the Minister for Fisheries, told the press after his familiarisation visit at IOT canning factory that the company has reserved shares in the Common Cold Storage facility being built at Ile Du Port.
“As a company, IOT is looking to the future and ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our fish stock is under pressure, especially yellowfin tuna. IOT is conscious about this and has, therefore, stocked up for almost 10 weeks and then I can say the company will start the year without being worried,” said Ferrari.
The Indian Ocean Tuna Ltd (IOT) located in New Port in the Seychelles’ capital, Victoria, is a manufacturer and exporter of canned tuna. It processes tuna caught in the Indian Ocean that is used by some of the most famous seafood brands including John West, Petit Navire and Mareblu.
Processed fish is the main export of Seychelles and is the country’s second-largest industry behind tourism.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, exported more than 6,600 tonnes of fish and crustaceans in 2019, injecting over $13 million in the country’s economy, recent data from the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) showed.
Over half of the income – a little over $6.5 million – came from the export of tuna, with yellowfin, skipjack and bigeye tuna being the main exported species. Tuna purse seining activities in the Seychelles Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is mostly carried out by French and Spanish vessels.
The company currently employs 2,019 people, 68 percent of whom are foreigners and 32 percent are Seychellois. Along with the increase in the number of workers, the factory has also increased its production and tonnage.