By George Thande
VICTORIA (Reuters) - Seychelles' vital fishing industry is starting to recover after international anti-piracy efforts and boats carrying armed guards deterred attacks by Somali pirates, Natural Resources and Industry Minister Peter Sinon said on Thursday.
The Indian Ocean islands' economy depends on tuna exports and tourism, both badly hurt after pirate attacks sent foreign fishing boats out of its waters in 2010.
"The boats which had stopped fishing in our waters when piracy was at its peak are now coming back. We are once again doing a lot of bunkering for them," Sinon said.
Port sources said the number of boats entering Port Victoria slumped to 60 a year at the height of the crisis. It would receive that number in a single month at peak times.
"Before piracy there were so many more ships because we had Korean and Japanese ships as well, now we do not," a port source said. Port officials said about 40 Taiwanese and Spanish tuna ships of 1,000-tonne capacity called at Port Victoria in June.
At the height of the crisis, fish supplies to local hotels dried up because local boat owners feared going to sea. Two Seychelles fishermen seized in 2011 are still being held captive in Somalia.
Sinon said construction of a $4-million port, put on hold due to the lull in fishing, would start soon.
It has been nearly a year since the last tuna ship flying the country's flag was attacked, Sinon said, putting the improvement in maritime security down to international anti-piracy efforts and more boats carrying armed guards.
"The security personnel we have put on board the vessels have also been a very effective deterrent," Sinon said.
(Editing By Drazen Jorgic and Janet Lawrence)