tBrief #03 – Fishing in the dark: Transparency of beneficial ownership

Beneficial ownership – that is, the natural person who ultimately owns or controls a business or transaction – is a topic that is grabbing global attention. The negative consequences of a lack of transparency regarding beneficial ownership are all too evident, with special implications for the fisheries sector.

The complexity of the fisheries sector – characterised by often long supply chains, different jurisdictions and the possibility of registering vessels according to the convenience of the owner – makes it particularly vulnerable as a sector to the negative impacts of beneficial ownership secrecy. While international campaigns for improvements in transnational finance are gaining pace, progress in the fisheries sector is slow.

But beneficial ownership transparency is not just about countering crime. An often overlooked aspect is that beneficial ownership transparency is also needed to ensure coherence with fisheries policies. This is particularly important in the context of restricted access in fisheries and where benefits of fisheries are designed to help with broader government policies, such as supporting domestic fisheries and local/national economic development.

In this third “transparency Brief” (or tBrief for short) we explain the main aspects of beneficial ownership, highlight major issues when the true identity of the beneficiary is kept hidden, and identify obligations to enhance ownership transparency in fisheries.

  1. The combination of a myriad of corporate structures and welcoming jurisdictions that protect the identity of owners create an environment that is conducive to beneficial ownership secrecy.
  2. The demand for beneficial ownership transparency in the fisheries sector is linked to a range of policy concerns, perhaps most notably in terms of the fight against illegal fishing and corruption, but also exposing the extent of economic concentration and foreign ownership in the sector.
  3. Addressing problems of opacity of beneficial ownership requires a clear commitment from countries to collect and make available adequate, accurate and timely information. However, information alone is not sufficient, as it needs to be verified and shared with national and international authorities.

We hope you will find this edition of our tBrief series interesting and stimulating. Please also send us your feedback and ideas for future editions to info@fiti.global.

You can download the tBrief in the following three languages:




This publication is funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.