Seychelles is joining Indian Ocean islands and East African countries to discuss strategies on how to increase accountability and enhance sustainable and responsible fisheries practices through the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI).
The initiative, which aims at increasing transparency and participation in fisheries governance for a more sustainable management of marine fisheries, was discussed in Seychelles last week. The Western Indian Ocean Regional Workshop took place from June 27-28 on Mahe, the main island.
Representatives from the fishing industry, civil society, governments and fishing administrations of Seychelles, Mauritius, the Comoros, Madagascar, Tanzania, Kenya and Mozambique took part in the workshop.
"Under the initiative, fisheries-related information should be made readily available to the public. This can be attained by publishing policies and other information on our website or in the media," said Nirmal Jivan Shah, the chair of the Seychelles Fishing Authority.
The initiative is pushing to have information placed into the public domain such as the status of fish stocks and marine ecosystems; conditions attached to fishing authorizations; the contracts and agreements signed; and the amount of fish taken from the ocean. It brings together all partners of the fishing industry "to publish and verify comprehensive data on the fisheries sector," Jivan Shah said.
Jivan Shah said that this will help the public better understand how and why certain decisions are taken.
"Currently, there is information that the public would like to know but due to a lack of mechanism, they are not getting access to it," said Jivan Shah.
The workshop was organised by the African Natural Resources Center of the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Government of Seychelles, the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), and the FiTI International Secretariat.
"Transparency is essential for responsible and accountable fisheries practices," said Jean-Louis Kromer, Chief Natural Resources Management Officer of the African Natural Resources Center in an article from allafrica.com.
Driving the initiative is the FiTI Standard which comprises of 12 transparency requirements and is applicable to all countries. The FiTI Standard was adopted at the second FiTI International Conference in Bali, Indonesia on April 27.
"Seychelles will have to comply with the standards that the initiative is asking for and this means that we have to change some of our habits," said Jivan Shah.
The fishing sector is the second main contributor to the economy of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
The initiative will also tackle issues impacting member countries such as illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. According to allafrica.com, "African countries are particularly vulnerable to overfishing and depletion of fish stock due to opaque and unregulated fishing practices by both foreign companies as well as local communities."