Mauritania eyes multiple benefits of transparent fisheries management

NOUAKCHOTT, October 4th 2015. Mauritania is stepping up its engagement with FiTI, with both national and international organizations offering opinions and advice as a FiTI Secretariat team visited the West African country.

Workshop FiTI

Workshop around the FiTI with representatives from the civil society and artisanal fisheries organizations

The Secretariat team was visiting Mauritania to help with preparations for the official FiTI launch, scheduled for February 3rd in Nouakchott. By that time, more than a year will have passed since President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz first announced his plans to launch the initiative.

Since then, Mauritania has been working hard to prepare its national pilot. Indeed, with some of the world’s richest fishing grounds, better fisheries governance opens up new perspectives for employment, food security and other economic benefits for all Mauritanians.

Mauritania’s Central Bank Governor told the Secretariat team that more transparent trade and financial flows in the fisheries sector will help Mauritania to get better, fairer deals for its fish. Better data will improve economic management, while better governance will reassure potential investors and attract more foreign investment.

“Fisheries are financially very significant for Mauritania and this is why the Central Bank has been pushing for more transparent financial flows”, he said.

In meetings with the Secretariat team, stakeholders said that by improving fisheries management, the FiTI would also benefit society.

Sustainability and participation

The Secretary General at the Ministry of Fisheries said that more transparent fishing rights would help Mauritania to manage its fisheries more effectively. Better public access to information on tenure rights, for example, would ensure that rights cannot be sold to multiple buyers. In turn, this will make Mauritanian fisheries more sustainable.

The Secretariat team also met with representatives of civil society and artisanal fisheries organizations. These representatives said that, by boosting the participation of artisanal fishery organizations in fisheries management, the FiTI will help protect the rights of local communities. Learning the lessons from other multi-stakeholder initiatives, they suggested ways to guarantee the participation of local fishermen.

Their suggestions included capacity building for CSOs or the establishment of a hotline for all participants in the FiTI, whether government, business, or civil society.

Preparations accelerate

With the FiTI’s first International Conference fast approaching, the Mauritanian Government has been cranking up the pace. Their objective? To become the first country with a FiTI multi-stakeholder group, the Minister for Economic Affairs and Development H.E. Sid’Ahmed Raïss told the FiTI Secretariat.

This move comes soon after an agreement between Mauritania and the EU on a new four-year fisheries protocol. The protocol seeks to bolster responsible fishing practices and the sustainable management of fish stocks. Its transparency contrasts with other opaque deals made in the past by Mauritania’s Government. In 2013, for example, the Government was forced to revoke an opaque and controversial 25-year fisheries agreement with China.

On fundamental aspects of the FiTI, both Minister Raïss and the Minister for Fisheries and Maritime Affairs H.E. Nani Ould Chrougha showed unity. They repeated their position that the FiTI will remain institutionally and organizationally distinct from the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). Given the importance of fisheries to Mauritania’s economy, the FiTI will be managed by the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Development.

“When it comes to the FiTI, the Minister for Economic Affairs and myself speak with one voice,” Minister Ould Chrougha said.

Going forward, the FiTI Secretariat will incorporate the numerous recommendations on transparency and participation from the different meetings into its technical work. The Secretariat will also continue to explore the collaboration with existing initiatives in the region, notably with the West Africa Regional Fisheries Program (WARFP), financed by the World Bank. Like the FiTI, the WARFP aims to boost responsible and sustainable fisheries. Recognizing the synergies between both initiatives, the World Bank Project Leader Peter Kristensen welcomed Mauritania’s engagement with the FiTI.

“The World Bank is ready to accompany and support the Mauritanian Government in all its efforts”, Kristensen declared during the official launch of the WARFP in Nouakchott .

The FiTI team met with the following stakeholders on their visit to Nouakchott, Mauritania, from October 4th to October 7th:

  • Governor of the Central Bank
  • Secretary General for Fisheries
  • H.E. Antonio Torres-Dulce Ruiz and Mr. Miguel Angel Blasco Molina from the Spanish Embassy
  • World Bank
  • GIZ
  • EU Group for fisheries
  • Mauritanie 2000
  • The African Confederation of Artisanal Fisheries Professional Organizations (CAOPA)
  • Publish What You Pay
  • 3CM
  • FNP
Meeting Fisheries Ministry

Meeting with H.E. Nani Ould Chrougha, Minister for fisheries and maritime affairs (center); Mrs. Khadija Bouka, Secretary General for fisheries (top right corner) and Mr Mohamed El Hafedh Ejiwen, Cooperation Director at the Fisheries Ministry (bottom left corner)