Results of TAKING STOCK assessment: Government transparency in marine fisheries of Mexico

Results of TAKING STOCK assessment: Government transparency in marine fisheries of Mexico

06 July 2022. Today, the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI) launched the results of its TAKING STOCK assessment on Mexico’s marine fisheries sector, as part of a series of national studies of government transparency in global fisheries management set to be published over the coming years. These assessments are designed to deepen public understanding of how different governments around the world approach transparency in marine fisheries management, and providing concrete recommendations to help strengthen public access to information.

Conducted in collaboration with Causa Natura, the assessment examined the level of information that Mexico’s national authorities publish on government websites against the transparency requirements of the FiTI Standard – the only internationally recognised framework defining what fisheries management information should be published online.

Beyond simply considering if information is available online, assessments also look at the quality of government information, considering whether it is up to date and easy for people to find. Assessments also document ‘good transparency practices’: instances where governments demonstrate innovative ways of communicating information and stimulating public debates from which other countries can draw inspiration.

What are the findings for Mexico?

Achieving transparency and increasing public access to government information has been a policy promoted by the government of Mexico for many years, for example through their membership of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) since 2011.

Mexico’s TAKING STOCK assessment shows that for 18 out of 37 applicable transparency elements (or 48%), Mexicoʼs national authorities publish fisheries information online (ʻPublic Accessʼ), although with varying quality. Such information is published for example on government websites, as well as the Federations’ official gazette, and the Sustainability and Responsible Fishing in Mexico Management and Evaluation, also known as the ‘Red Book’. Public access to such information is a prerequisite to manage fisheries efficiently and sustainably, as well as the ability for effective oversight, accountability and public dialogue.

Mexico’s TAKING STOCK assessment was conducted by a team of researchers, including national experts, who performed desk research of a country’s marine fisheries sector in line with the 12 thematic areas of the FiTI Standard. These thematic areas were broken down into 38 individual transparency elements – ranging from the publication of fisheries laws, policies, management plans and national strategies to respond to illegal fishing, to the latest information on fish catches, employment data, government revenues in the sector, fisheries subsidies and beneficial ownership.

However, despite these positive findings, the assessment demonstrates that a significant amount of information remains publicly unavailable and the quality of what is published online is often in need of improvement. For example, for 15 out of the 37 applicable transparency elements (or 41%) there is no information published, even though there is evidence that this information is available to national authorities. This includes important aspects, such as information about Mexico’s commercial small-scale sector (e.g. fishers, licenses, catches), information about catches and landings from Mexico’s large-scale fishing sector, as well as information on official development aid or labour standards. Mexico’s national authorities should take proactive steps to share such information with the wider public.

Furthermore, the assessment also shows that the Mexico government does not collect or compile any information of four important areas of marine fisheries management (i.e. 11%). This includes information about discards of large-scale and small-scale fisheries, or a beneficial ownership registry. It is acknowledged that these information gaps may be the result of a lack of technical, financial or human resources. However, not producing such information is likely to undermine efforts to manage fisheries sustainably. This is particularly important for Mexico, due to concerns about declining fish populations in the country’s waters, including those upon which the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of small-scale fishers and fish workers depend. 

Overall, the assessment notes that while Mexico’s authorities place certain efforts on publishing fisheries management information online, the presentation and organisation of such information should be further improved to better facilitate public understanding of the status of Mexico’s marine fisheries – and consequently stimulate national debates around its management.

Mr Sven Biermann, Executive Director of the FiTI International Secretariat stated that ‘this assessment represents an important milestone for Mexico’s marine fisheries sector. It provides the first comprehensive and in-depth analyses of transparency in marine fisheries management for the country. This is a valuable source of information – not only for national authorities – but also for other stakeholders, such as journalists, researchers, parliamentarians, as well as the thousands of people engaged in marine fisheries in Mexico.’

The findings of Mexico’s TAKING STOCK assessment are published in a Summary Assessment Report (in English and Spanish), as well as an in-depth Detailed Assessment Report (in Spanish).

The assessment was financially supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and conducted under the supervision and responsibility of the FiTI International Secretariat.