Previously unpublished information on foreign fishing access agreements, stock information, and payment and catch data is now available to the public following the publication of Seychelles’ first report to the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI).
The report, which was launched on Friday, makes Seychelles the first country in the world to submit such a report to the initiative. This is a major milestone for the country’s efforts to ensure that fisheries are environmentally sustainable, economically viable and socially equitable.
The FiTI National Lead of Seychelles, Philippe Michaud, told reporters that “fisheries are for all Seychellois and it is important to be accountable and have a system where you get more participation of all the different groups.”
“When more information is visible, different groups can say if the information is correct, or if there is something missing, so as to improve things. It helps essentially to have good governance and manage resources sustainably,” said Michaud.
He outlined that the first FiTI report process highlighted several areas where there are serious weaknesses in the availability of information and showed that even when information exists, it is not always easily accessible to the public, and at times, is simply inaccessible. The data submitted is from 2019.
“On different markets in different countries, people buying different products are interested in knowing how the industry developed and how the fish is being caught. Having such information out there will gradually give us an advantage over other countries as the consumer will say that the country is doing an effort to ensure that its resources are not being overexploited and the resources have been fished legal,” said Michaud.
He added that there were also instances where confidentiality and other legal issues prevented the publication of basic information. In these cases, the National Multi Stakeholder Group has recommended that discussions start to improve transparency without at the same time compromising sensitive commercial interests.
The executive director at Fisheries Transparency Initiative, Sven Biermann, said that “the report also clearly shows that there is a lot of information lacking.”
Biermann said that the report now has 34 recommendations on how to improve transparency with a clear timestamp when they need to be implemented started as early as June this year. (Seychelles Nation) Photo License: CC-BY
“One of the things that the report tried to do is to put the foreign access agreements next to each other. There seems to be a very strong controversy around the agreement with the European Union and I would say that the reason for that is partly because it is the only agreement that is available,” said Biermann.
The report summarises key status information on Seychelles’ fisheries sector to increase public understanding and appreciation of the sector. It also assesses Seychelles’ level of compliance against the 12 transparency requirements of the FiTI Standard. It also provides recommendations to the Seychelles’ national authorities on how the publication of information in the public domain can be further improved.
Biermann, told the press that “the report now has 34 recommendations on how to improve transparency with a clear timestamp when they need to be implemented started as early as June this year.
“There are 18 to 20 that need to be implemented this year and with the clear responsibility of who has to do this. We from the international secretariat will clearly monitor this, as it is okay now to say that certain information is lacking. There needs to be a progressive improvement over time,” said Biermann.
During the launching, Seychelles received high level congratulatory messages coming from the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean, Peter Thompson, and the World Bank Country Director for Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius, Comoros and Seychelles in the Eastern and Southern Africa Region, Idah Pswarayi-Riddihough, among others.
“Having all these congratulatory messages show how important this is seen on a global scale. The publication of the first-ever FiTI country report is an incredible first step for the initiative. It shows that it can be done, that there are governments seeing the value of transparency not only for their own administrations but also for their collaborations with businesses and civil societies,” said Biermann.
The next country expected to submit its report is Mauritania in the coming months. Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, is expected to submit its next report by the end of 2021.