FiTI encourages regional transparency for sustainable marine fisheries at Seychelles meeting
With a lot of shared fish stocks, there needs to be regional trust among the countries to have them collaborate. (Seychelles Nation)
Improving the comprehension of fisheries management by authorities and other key stakeholders on ways to promote transparency and taking into account its benefits are among the aims of a regional workshop held in Seychelles.
Dubbed "Promoting Transparency for Sustainable Marine Fisheries through Collective Actions in the South-West Indian Ocean (SWIO) Region", the two-day workshop is being organised jointly by the Ministry of Fisheries and Blue Economy, the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI), and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Madagascar.
Representatives of individuals and groups involved in the fisheries sector of Kenya, Mozambique, Madagascar, Seychelles, and South Africa attended the meeting.
FiTI's executive director, Sven Biermann, outlined that through the workshop the organisers are looking to address transparency in fisheries on a regional scale.
"Seychelles is leading the region and we have seen that this has already attracted interest from other countries. It is however important that all the countries are stepping up."
He said that with a lot of shared fish stocks, "we need regional trust among the countries to really have them collaborate together so that we can make sure that the countries get the best out of the shared stocks and this cannot happen if the countries do not trust each other because they do not know what each of the countries is doing."
Seychelles made its commitment to implementing FiTI in 2016 and became a candidate country in 2020, the second to achieve the status after Mauritania. To date, the country has already submitted three FiTI country reports, and another is expected by the end of 2023. Within the SWIO Region, Madagascar become the second country to become a country candidate and that happened in December 2022.
"Transparency doesn't hurt and I am not sure that everybody really understands that from other countries so seeing that it can be done and that it is beneficial hopefully stimulates other countries to really understand that this is not a dangerous aspect and it is something that is really beneficial for other countries," said Biermann.
He said after the workshop it is expected that countries understand the different approaches of transparency and the best outcome would be that those currently not part of FiTI make a commitment within the coming six to 12 months."
The regional coordinator of the Civil Society Organisation, Doreen Simiyu, shared that through the workshop "we hope to better understand what FiTI is all about and how can we market this to our various governments."
She added that "most of our governments are not a party to FiTI. We are hoping to digest it, understand it and once we go back to our country, how can we market and pitch this idea so that at the end of the day our government can be a part of this because transparency in this century is really key in the management of fisheries resources."
Transparency is also seen as critical by WWF in the management of natural resources. WWF's Indian Ocean tuna manager, Umair Shahid, said that it is necessary for fisheries data to be made available in the public domain.
"Interestingly, we need resources, tools, and capacity within the governments to ensure that the data is available. Do the governments have the right set of tools and capacity? That's one of the questions that we're trying to answer in this workshop," said Shahid.
"In addition to that we're also looking at whether technology could play an important role. Technology is developing widely and it's becoming more robust, and cost-effective. It's all about applicability, access, and how we can have more accountability. The reason why we want to have more accountability is to create equity in the system. If we do not have equity in the system then we won't be able to have sustainability because fisheries is a shared resource," he added.
The workshop was organised a day after Seychelles' national fisheries transparency workshop, which looked at the findings of the country's 2021 FiTI report and captured the input of key stakeholders in the large-scale and small-scale fisheries sectors.