People walk along the beach in Seychelles in this file picture.

Johannesburg - The Seychelles economy contracted at the steepest pace in four years as the fishing industry and beverage and tobacco manufacturing slumped.

Gross domestic product fell 2.9 percent on a quarterly basis compared with 4.6 percent expansion in the three months earlier, the country’s National Bureau of Statistics said in e-mailed statement today.

It marks the economy’s first contraction in a year.

Fishing shrank 17.9 percent, while manufacturing of beverages and tobacco fell 14.7 percent.

Food production rose 12.8 percent.

Economic growth in the Indian Ocean island nation of 90,000 people is forecast to rise to 3.7 percent in 2014 and 3.8 percent next year, from 3.5 percent in 2013, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Tuna fishing and processing accounts for almost 5 percent of GDP, 7 percent of jobs, and about 35 percents of exports, according to the World Bank.

The trade gap narrowed to 1.54 billion rupees ($125.7 million) in the first quarter from 1.62 billion rupees in the four quarter of last year.

Imports rose 5 percent from a year ago to 3.18 billion rupees and exports fell 25 percent to 989.4 million rupees.

Unemployment was 4.2 percent between January and March, the statistics office said, without providing comparative data.

The economy contracted 3.2 percent in the first quarter of 2010 and 0.9 percent in the same period of last year, according to the report. - Bloomberg News