Tatiana Solovieva, Deputy CEO of Oceana Fisheries, has been in the Seychelles for almost 10 years, having fallen in love with the islands the first time she visited.
Based in Victoria’s Old Port, Oceana Fisheries specialises in processing fish for both the export and local markets. Last year, they made their first foray into sports fishing, organising the Regatta fishing competition, and now the company has its own fishing team which takes part in the tournaments that are organised by the Seychelles Sports Fishing Club.
Tatiana Solovieva, Deputy CEO of Oceana Fisheries, has been in the Seychelles for almost 10 years, having fallen in love with the islands the first time she visited. It’s a far cry from the suburbs of Moscow where she grew up, but she believes that coming here was her destiny. At the age of 19, her father asked her to translate an article about the Seychelles for a friend of his…and she’s now there.
The 19-year-old Tatiana would never have imagined how much life would change. Not only is she working in one of the Seychelles’ biggest industries, but she’s involved in major fishing competitions too.
Falling in love with local fishing competitions
A couple of years ago, the director of Oceana Fisheries decided to take part in a local fishing competition. “That’s when it began”, says Tatiana, “and we then started to take part in all the competitions available in the Seychelles. Most of the time the team comes second – it’s their aim to beat that record and win. It’s a sport. Your desire is to win – not against other people or other teams, but to beat your own records. I’m driven by the desire to bring better results.”
The competitions that Oceana Fisheries enter have a variety of different rules. The most common format is to try and catch the most fish, or the biggest fish. Sometimes, though, it’s about tagging fish that are released, and seeing whose fish travels the furthest.
The fish caught in these competitions does not go to waste. “Normally”, explains Tatiana, “we at Ocean Fisheries will sell all of the catch to the public. We’re planning on implementing auctions for the fresh fish soon, though.”
Visions of creating an International Fishing Regatta
Tatiana and the Oceana Fisheries team hope that the Regatta fishing competition will continue to grow, working with existing clubs to increase its reach, slowly and gradually. “In time, we’d like it to be an international competition”, enthuses Tatiana, “There are many fishing boats, many fish, and many people who fish in the Seychelles, but keen fishermen from overseas hardly know anything about fishing off our islands.”
For that reason, they’re planning on registering with international organisations such as the International Fishing Game Association, to give the Seychelles international recognition. There’s also an aim to work with big fishing equipment and clothing brands, which will provide not only sponsorship opportunities, but also further recognition.
Fantastic fishing holidays
There are already a few companies in the Seychelles that offer fishing holidays, but it’s something that Oceana are considering more seriously. “We’ve been creating a few potential programmes for such trips”, says Tatiana, excitedly, “It will involve travelling to the outer islands and we’ll be offering trips for up to 100 people, divided onto different boats.”
Corporate events are high on the agenda too, and Tatiana and the team have plenty of ideas for trips that will create long-lasting memories. “Most of the time, corporate visitors don’t do much cooking”, she says, “They enjoy the sun, the beach and the local cuisine. We want to organise a fishing competition where we divide 100 people into teams and give them the fishing gear and clothing…we’ll give them the rules, present them to the captain, give the prizes at the end.”
Sponsoring the Regatta fishing competition makes people remember Oceana: not just because of the money, but because of their improving results too. Tatiana’s role is more of an accountant: she takes care of the expenses, while the men look more at the sea and weather conditions – the strategic planning. There can be up to 15 teams taking part in the competition, and Oceana are looking forward to their next one. The prize money can be significant in these competitions too: “In the last competition, we sponsored Seychelles Fish Club, it was 175,000 rupees ($13,000, £10,000)”, says Tatiana.
Company changes: -600 fish, Smoking and Takeaway
The fishing competitions aren’t the only new experience for Oceana Fisheries. In the last few years, they’ve introduced “minus 60 fish”: fish that is frozen to minus 60C degrees . “It’s still not that popular in the Seychelles, because the local culture provides you with fresh fish”, says Tatiana, “but it can really benefit the country as it means we can have almost fresh fish, all year around.”
Smoking is also high on the agenda. “The demand for smoked fish is high amongst both locals and tourists”, she reveals. Consequently, Oceana are doubling their production. While they’re currently the only one producing smoked fish, there are competitors starting to come into the market. “Export may be possible, but we need to do a very careful market analysis price-wise”, explains the business-like Tatiana, “The Russian market, for example, is full of smoked products, so it could be tricky.”
The Oceana team have now also opened a takeaway, with the location a short distance from the town. The idea of takeaways hasn’t been very popular in the Seychelles so far, but Tatiana is hopeful. “We’re serving recipes that aren’t too heavy for lunch – recipes that use different organic products. We always try and include fresh produce, and it’s all fish-based, no meat. Popularity is definitely increasing – we have regular customers who come daily.”
An Oceana local culinary retail outlet and then International
The next plan on the agenda is to open a culinary shop, selling pre-prepared products that are easy to cook at home when people get home tired from work. Products like fish in breadcrumbs. The product list is now being finalised before the shop opens.
Further down the line, though, the strategy is to focus on international expansion. “The goal is to be well-recognised all over the world for our fish from the Seychelles”, explains Tatiana, “We’re hoping to kick off our international expansion in 2017: now, we’re working on a brand new website that allows people to buy online, and I’m also considering creating an app that allows you to order fish to be delivered to your door.”
So far, Oceana have one representative office in Russia, and they’re close to signing at least 4 direct contracts with European countries. “A lot of overseas partners are very interested in Seychelles fish”, says Tatiana, “and I’m very excited for the future!”