As part of efforts to support the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock in Bangladesh with a solid understanding of the types of information published in the public domain (i.e. government websites) and where enhancement opportunities exist, the FiTI has started its ‘TAKING STOCK – Online Transparency of Fisheries Management Information’ assessment in Bangladesh.
Fisheries are a critical resource fulfilling the economic, food security, and nutrition needs of millions of people in Bangladesh. The sector has emerged as a major growth driver, consistently contributing close to 4 percent of gross domestic product for the last decade (3.7 percent in 2014–15). With close to US$ 638 million in export generation, fisheries have also become the second largest foreign currency earner after the garment industry. In 2015, the sector employed 18.2 million people, or 11 percent of the population, including 1.4 million women. As the least carbon-intensive protein source, fish contributes up to 60 percent of all animal protein consumed in the country, making Bangladesh one of the highest fish consumers in the world.
However, Bangladesh, like many other countries, faces a complex challenge: ensuring that fishing and fish trade contribute to income, employment, food and nutrition for millions of its people, while also conserving marine biodiversity for future generations.
While there are many aspects to achieve sustainable fisheries, the public accessibility of information is essential to good governance. The Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI) has been established to support countries in achieving and maintaining high levels of transparency in their marine fisheries sectors.
In order to strengthen the awareness and appreciation of Bangladesh’s marine and coastal capture fisheries, the FiTI is conducting a comprehensive assessment regarding the level of publicly available information on the country’s marine fisheries sector. Based on 12 thematic areas, as set out in the FiTI Standard, the assessment covers 38 transparency elements regarding Bangladesh’s marine capture fishery, ranging from the publication of national laws, fisheries management plans and vessel registries to trade information, fisheries subsidies and beneficial ownership.
This assessment will not only provide an overview of what the country publishes on a number of key aspects highly relevant for its sustainable development. It is also intended to provide a sound base of information to spark interest among various non-governmental stakeholders and serve as a foundation for capacity-building and communication endeavours.
Will May, FiTI’s Regional Coordinator for the Western Indian Ocean stated that ‘Enhancing transparency in marine fisheries management requires that all stakeholders have a general understanding of what information is already in the public domain and what is missing. This assessment will therefore provide not only an important benchmark to fisheries stakeholders, but also resonates with the Access to Information/Aspire to Innovate (redefined) programme of the Prime Minister’s Office that aspires to improve the lives of citizens by increasing transparency and governance.’
The FiTI International Secretariat has been selected by the World Bank to conduct such an assessment.
Bangladesh is the fourth country to undergo the assessment following its launch in Latin America in April 2021. The outcomes of the assessment for Bangladesh are expected to be published in February 2022.