The Fishermen Investment Trust was set up in 2006 by the government of Mauritius to cater for the needs of artisanal fishers in Mauritius and Rodrigues and act as the commercial arm of the Ministry of Fisheries. Its mission is to accompany the fishermen community towards social improvement through viable and sustainable initiatives. It aims to be a key player in the fishing industry while empowering the fishing community and being a partner in the socio-economic development of the country. Specifically, it is involved in the activities of fisheries and processing and marketing of fish and other fisheries industry-related activities.
The main shareholders of the FIT are the 4,000 fishers registered in Mauritius and Rodrigues. The FIT initially received 15 million rupees from the government in 2007 for its operational activities including the development of the small-scale fisheries sector. The FIT became operational in 2007 and was supposed to generate profits to cater its needs.
In line with its mandate the FIT proposed new developments including the request from fishers for bigger boats to allow them move out of the overfished lagoon and focus on outer lagoon fisheries such as fishing around fish aggregating devices for pelagic species. Thus, two fishing boats were constructed and fully equipped to fish in the outer lagoon areas. However, the boats remained idle most of the time, as the fishers did not want to pay a minimum rent for the use of the boats.
Furthermore, the FIT started the first small-scale aquaculture at sea with fisher cooperatives as beneficiaries with the FAO/SmartFish funding. Cages were constructed in Mauritius using locally available materials. Training was imparted to concerned stakeholders and the project was mentored for the first year of operation.
Following the success of this project with nearly 1,000 kg harvested for the 1st harvest and some 1,500 kg for the 2nd harvest, the Fisheries Department decided to order 10 more cages (12 metres in diameter) for free distribution to fisher cooperatives interested in aquaculture. The main species for culture is the rabbit fish and the seabream.
Following one year of inactivity due to the departure of the CEO and Chairman of the FIT, the Ministry of Fisheries intends to re-launch the activities of the FIT by injecting fresh funds for the benefit of fishers in Mauritius and Rodrigues.