Seychelles pushing Indian Ocean Tuna Commission for greater transparency
The Seychelles is coaching other island nations in the Indian Ocean on ways to take more action to encourage greater transparency in fisheries-related management decisions.
The Seychelles is working with Madagascar, Mauritius, and Comoros on improving their data-collection and presentation efforts, according to Seychelles Minister for Fisheries and Blue Economy Jean-Francois Ferrari. The move could have consequences for management of regional tuna fishery stocks, in particular at the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission, where the Seychelles is a member.
In a conversation recorded and circulated by FiTI, an organization promoting transparency in fisheries through the publication of annual transparency reports with governments, Ferrari said regional fisheries management organizations, including the IOTC, would function better if regional governments did a better job collecting and sharing information. Doing so would improve RFMO accountability and compliance, he said.
“The IOTC is a collaborative effort, which requires a high degree of trust and openness between members in order to deliver on its objectives,” Ferrari said. “A lack of transparency can therefore contribute to distrust and undermine collaboration. Beyond the issue of trust and partnerships, a fundamental issue is that responsible management of shared resources requires access to the best available information. Therefore, we need governments to be fully committed to collecting and sharing information.”
Ferrari said there is growing concern about the performance of the IOTC in managing highly migratory fish species, both in terms of sustainability and benefit-sharing.
“While there might be valid concerns, what is also important is that a lack of credible information at the national level can contribute to misinformation and unfair criticisms,” he said.
Large volumes of detailed information are published by the IOTC but only in “highly technical” reports inaccessible in style. In contrast, FiTI country reports help to summarize this information and make it more accessible. FiTI’s first country report was published in April 2021 by the Seychelles, followed by Mauritania’s report in May 2021, and subsequent reports have since been published covering Senegal, Cabo Verde, Madagascar, São Tomé and Príncipe, Ecuador, Bangladesh, and Mexico.
Ferrari said these summaries help with knowledge-sharing and understanding of efforts being undertaken around the world to improve fisheries management at the national level.
“I think that will mean we have better-informed public debates,” said Ferrari.
Ferrari’s office is also working with fishers to help create district fishery organizations.
“I can say that is working well. Going through the process of making sure government information on the fisheries sector is reliable and detailed has really helped improve local engagement," he said. "So I think we should see the benefits of transparency on that level as well – it is about building trust and better collaboration.”
Photo courtesy of Republic of Seychelles Ministry of Fisheries and Blue Economy