This Tuesday, 14 February 2023, the multi-stakeholder forum “Transparency for sustainable fisheries management: The FiTI experience in Ecuador” was held during the 11th Commission Meeting of the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (COMM11) in Manta, Ecuador. The forum was organised by Ecuador’s Vice-Ministry of Aquaculture and Fisheries, the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI) and the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), and attracted over 50 representatives of governments, the fishing sector and civil society.
The forum’s main objectives were to promote the importance of government transparency within the region of the SPRFMO, to encourage other countries to join the FiTI, and to elaborate on Ecuador’s progress in implementing the FiTI Standard. Ecuador recently became the first country in the Americas to reach a FiTI Candidate Country status.
The forum include a panel of seven distinguished speakers:
- Andrés Arens, Vice-Minister of Aquaculture and Fisheries for Ecuador;
- Alejandro Moya, Undersecretary of Fisheries for Ecuador;
- Luis Suárez, Executive Director of Conservation International Ecuador;
- Guillermo Morán, Director of the TUNACONS Foundation;
- Gabriela Cruz, President of FENACOPEC;
- Grace Unda, Director of CORPAG; and
- Karina Solís, Advisor to the National Chamber of Fisheries in Ecuador.
The panel was chaired by Mr Nicolás Rovegno, Regional Coordinator for the FiTI in Latin America.
Opening remarks were delivered by Gustavo Canelos from PADF, who emphasised that “the FiTI is an opportunity to improve the relationship and participation between the government, citizens and the private sector in order to act and assume a collective responsibility for the sustainable management of fisheries.”
During his intervention, the Vice-Minister of Aquaculture and Fisheries, Andrés Arens, noted that “Ecuador’s main motivations for joining the Fisheries Transparency Initiative were to improve the image of national fisheries at the international level, strengthen the governance of the sector, and guarantee the sustainability of our marine resources”. He concluded his remarks by “inviting the government representatives of the different nations participating in this event to consider implementing the FiTI Standard, as it is the only internationally recognised framework that contributes to the sustainability of marine fisheries by increasing the accessibility and credibility of national fisheries management information”.
Luis Suárez, Vice-President and Executive Director of Conservation International Ecuador, highlighted the importance of the initiative as a very important dialogue platform for the authorities that must be cared for and strengthened in the coming years.
As a representative of the artisanal fishing sector, Gabriela Cruz, President of FENACOPEC, highlighted the importance of women’s work in the fishing sector, mentioning that “people should know that the fish they are eating also comes from women’s work, and this is why public access to information is so important”.
In his concluding remarks, Mr Rovengo from FiTI emphasised that “public access to information is a prerequisite to manage fisheries efficiently and sustainably, as well as the ability for effective oversight, accountability and public dialogue. The FiTI presents a unique opportunity to member countries of the SPRFMO to enhance the accessibility, credibility and usability of national fisheries information”.