Support from FiTI, UNODC bolsters Ecuador’s progress towards first FiTI Report

Support from FiTI, UNODC bolsters Ecuador’s progress towards first FiTI Report

Manta, 25-26 April. The FiTI International Secretariat recently travelled to Ecuador to attend the fifth meeting of the nation’s National Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) to support discussions on the first draft of the nation’s 2022 FiTI Report.

Over 20 representatives from Ecuador’s fisheries sector attended the meeting, including members of industry, government, and civil society, and the Environment Team of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). UNODC is supporting the Vice Ministry of Aquaculture and Fisheries’ preparation of the report through the joint Regional Cooperation Project on Tackling Crimes Affecting the Environment with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

FiTI Reports are assessments of the availability, accessibility, and completeness of fisheries-related information within a country. They are produced annually by a FiTI-implementing country’s National MSG and evaluate public access to information for 12 thematic areas of marine capture fisheries defined by the FiTI Standard, including fishing licenses, vessel registry, catch data, subsidies, and beneficial ownership.

During the National MSG meeting the Report Compilers presented draft evaluations for each of these thematic areas and discussed recommendations to improve gaps in available information.

Because the FiTI does not expect countries to have complete data for every thematic area from the beginning, FiTI Reports are a way for implementing countries to achieve the main benefits of transparency while demonstrating progressive improvement over time. These reports provide succinct summaries of information to assist with public understanding and policy debates, communicate recommendations for improving public access to information, and establish levels of credibility for publicly available information.

Reflecting on the meeting, Rafaela Hurtado, Vice Minister of Aquaculture and Fisheries, expressed that “The FiTI Report is a clear example of how open and accessible information can help all stakeholders to better understand and participate more effectively in the management of our marine resources. We hope it will also allow us to identify areas of improvement to take fisheries transparency to the next level.”

Emphasising accountability as a benefit of improved transparency, Leopoldo Fernández, Ecuador Country Head and Latin America and the Caribbean Coordinator for UNODC’s Global Programme on Environmental Crime, stated that “Our value chain approach allows us to understand how related crimes operate and interrelate. This is why the initiative provides us with key information for a more transparent fisheries system and to ensure the proper trade of fisheries resources at the national and international level, positively impacting our economies, our security and our well-being.”

At the end of the meeting, the Regional Coordinator of FiTI mentioned that, “The FiTI Reports shed light on the intricacies of the fisheries sector by making critical information publicly accessible. This transparency not only allows stakeholders to draw reliable conclusions but also fosters enhanced participation. Ultimately, these efforts lead to more sustainable management of our fisheries.”

Based off the discussions from this meeting, the National MSG will hold a validation workshop in June where they will present the final version of the report and their recommendations.

This mission was part of the activities of the FiTI Regional Coordinator for Latin America.