São Tomé and Príncipe becomes member of FiTI

The coastline of São Tomé and Príncipe

The African island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe has announced a new resolution to join the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI).

The country – whose population relies on fish as a primary source of protein – is now the sixth nation committed to increase transparency in its fisheries management through the FiTI standard, following Mauritania, Seychelles, Senegal, Cabo Verde, and Madagascar, according to a statement by FiTI.

São Tomé and Príncipe Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development Francisco Martins dos Ramos said hiscountry “recognized early on that its valuable fisheries resources were being exploited beyond sustainable levels, by national and foreign fleets, and in a non-transparent and non-inclusive manner.”

“Therefore, we seek to create mechanisms to reverse this trend and help regenerate the exploitation of fisheries resources through the development of a sustainable fisheries management system based on fisheries research, fisheries administration and an inspection system,” the minister said in a letter to FiTI International Board Chair Valeria Merino.

With the country’s commitment to join FiTI the next phase will be to work on completing the steps required to submit an official application.

A first country mission by the FiTI International Secretariat has been scheduled for February and March 2022.

The country has a catch capacity of roughly 29,000 metric tons of fish a year, and through pledging to join the FiTI standard, it has vowed to begin implementing transparency initiatives backed by the group.  

According to FiTI, the standard “provides governments, the fishing industry, and civil society with a comprehensive and credible way to achieve and maintain high levels of transparency on the management of the marine fisheries sector and the activities of fishers and fishing companies.”

FiTI Global has listed Comoros, Ecuador, Lebanon, Mexico, Mauritius, and Peru as target countries for its membership drive.

São Tomé and Príncipe's fisheries are exclusively artisanal and largely focused on small pelagics.Through its involvement with FiTI, the country also plans to involve stakeholders throughout the value chain to remain consistent with FiTI’s objectives.  

An earlier commitment by São Tomé and Príncipe to join FiTI in 2018 was delayed after the country had a change in government in 2019. The process was restarted in November 2020, with engagement between the FiTI International Secretariat and key seafood stakeholders in the country – including the government, businesses, and civil society collaborators with the support of MAR Ambiente e Pesca Artesanal (MARAPA) – a FiTI Global partner.

“With this commitment, the government of São Tomé and Príncipe is setting a decisive milestone for transparency in the management of its marine fisheries,” FiTI Global said.

"Transparent commercial and financial flows in the fisheries sector can help the country to achieve more responsible, equitable, and profitable fisheries, while better governance will reassure potential investors and attract more foreign investment," FiTI said.

Photo courtesy of Cesar J. Pollo/Shutterstock


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