Stakeholders push for West African states to join FiTI at Regional Forum

Stakeholders push for West African states to join FiTI at Regional Forum

BISSAU, April 23-25. The Fisheries Transparency Initiative’s (FiTI) International Secretariat recently attended the Regional Coastal and Marine Forum in Bissau, where FiTI Regional Coordinators presented on the benefits of transparency in marine fisheries management and the FiTI Standard and attendees advocated for coastal African states to join the FiTI.

Sponsored by the Regional Partnership for the Conservation of the Coastal and Marine Zone (PRCM), the 11th edition of the forum brought together stakeholders from across Africa to discuss “Conservation, resilience and sustainable development of the West African coastline in the face of global change.” Topics and sessions ranged from sustainable fisheries management and fishing pressure to construction and extractive industries operation in the coastal zone.

The FiTI Regional Coordinators for Francophone and Lusophone Africa presented on the importance of Fisheries Transparency in the fight against IUU fishing and, more broadly, the benefits that implementation of the FiTI Standard can bring to states’ maritime fishing sectors.  The FiTI Standard is the only internationally recognized framework that details the specific types of information that fisheries authorities should publish online. By making this information freely available, fishing authorities empower greater public participation in fisheries management decision-making and improve discussions on sustainable fisheries policy.

During the presentation, the Regional Coordinators  discussed the 12 transparency requirements, the key principles of FiTI, and FiTI and IUU fishing. They also stressed that the future of fisheries must be transparent and  brought awareness to the fact that several African countries are already implementing the FiTI and pointed to successes in Cabo Verde, Mauritania, São Tomé and Príncipe, Madagascar, and the Seychelles. They also notified attendees that FiTI is actively engaging with stakeholders in other countries in West Africa as well, including Guinea-Bissau, Ghana, and Senegal.

After several days of thought-provoking presentations and discussions, the stakeholders attending the conference committed to working towards a list of actions designed to promote conservation and sustainability of West Africa’s coastal and marine zones. Demonstrating the interest the FiTI garnered at the forum, these actions also included the intent to have all states within the West African subregion join the FiTI.

Despite “fisheries transparency” being a relatively new concept in sustainable development and conservation circles, the interest the FiTI received at this forum demonstrates that the approach continues to build momentum, especially in Africa. The FiTI has engaged with stakeholders across African coastal states, including in West Africa, and will continue to support multi-stakeholder partnerships to enhance public access to fisheries management information.