The FiTI Secretariat has approached a small group of experts from the International Advisory Group to contribute recommendations on the transparency elements for FiTI in respect to the large-scale fishing sector. These recommendations will be presented at the next meeting(s) of the International Advisory Group. The current status of discussions was presented by a member of the Working Group at the 3rd Advisory Group meeting of the FiTI on February 3rd in Mauritania. A similar group has been established on small-scale fisheries.
This brief note is intended to kick-start the discussion for the Working Group. It provides a brief background to the work and it identifies the main questions that need to be discussed further.
A recap: How does the FiTI work?
FiTI is a global multi-stakeholder initiative that has the aim of improving transparency and participation in the fisheries sector. Countries that want to implement the FiTI will be required to produce a report on the fisheries sector that includes credible and independently verified information. A Multi-Stakeholder Group in the country will be tasked with requesting, providing, consolidating, and approving the information and publishing this in the FiTI Country Report. It has yet to be decided whether implementing countries will be required to report every year, or over a longer time frame.
The initial focus of the FiTI is on ‘access to marine fisheries’. Preliminary work has identified categories of information that implementing countries will be expected to report on. These include:
A. Information on tenure arrangements (Who has the right to fish and what is the terms of their fishing right?)
B. Information on payments (What is paid for the right to fish?)
C. Information on catches
In compiling FiTI Country Reports, certain data will be submitted by governments and the industry. Any discrepancies between what the industry reports and what governments report will therefore be visible through the FiTI reporting process. A national assessor will be tasked to collate data and produce the FiTI reports, which will involve receiving and requesting information from both governments and companies, as well as civil society.
Data will be verified through a number of mechanisms. Most important of these is the National Multi-Stakeholder Group that must agree that the report contains accurate information. In addition, concerns with the accuracy of reported data for a country could be made to the International Secretariat of the FiTI and the FiTI International Advisory Board.
Why distinguish between Large-Scale and Small-Scale fisheries?
Although we know the task of defining both small-scale fisheries and large-scale fisheries is difficult, a distinction between the two sectors is important to the FiTI for various reasons.
A distinction is essential given that the nature of the small-scale sector is vastly different from the nature of the large-scale sector. The former can involve thousands of individuals, many of whom have informal tenure rights. The latter can involve a relatively small number of companies that typically operate through more formalized access arrangements. Clearly reporting on both sectors has to be approached differently.
It is also important to note that the reasons for a lack of transparency in both sectors may differ. Lack of transparency by governments and companies in the large-scale sector may be indicative of confidentiality. Increasing transparency for the large-scale sector may therefore be resisted for vested interests.
In contrast, lack of information sharing on the small-scale sector is usually due to the inability, or lack of political will, of governments to collate information. Generally, the small-scale sector supports increased information gathering to raise the profile of their sector in terms of contributing to employment and food security.
What should be included in the FiTI Reports for Large Scale Fisheries?
The main challenge for the Working Group is to identify the list of reporting elements that needs to be included on the large-scale fishing sector. In developing this list of reporting elements, it is vital that these are applicable to all large-scale fishing, and take into consideration the various access arrangements that exist in different countries, such as private licenses, licenses that are provided through a fisheries agreement, joint ventures, charter arrangements etc. The reporting elements will cover both nationally owned fishing companies as well as foreign owned companies and vessels.
Through the first meeting of the International Advisory Group, as well as further work undertaken by the FiTI Secretariat, a draft proposal has emerged for FiTI reporting elements, divided into three parts. A final version of these reporting elements will contain more in-depth guidance notes for implementing countries, clarifying terms where needed.
The overall purpose of these reporting elements is to improve transparency on ‘access to marine fisheries’. The data is focused on improving understanding of the fishing that takes place inside a country’s EEZ. The list of reporting requirements does not include the post harvest sector, nor does it try and capture information on the activities of nationally registered vessels operating in a third country or the high seas, although this could be changed.
It should be noted, this is only a starting point for further development of the reporting requirements, and the Working Group should feel free to elaborate, edit or redefine the reporting elements for the large-scale fisheries as needs be (see below for a list of potential additional reporting requirements).
What should be included in the FiTI Reports for Small Scale Fisheries?
The main challenge for the Working Group is to identify the list of reporting elements that countries need to publish on the small-scale fishing sector.
Through the first meeting of the International Advisory Group, as well as further work undertaken by the FiTI Secretariat, a draft proposal has emerged for FiTI reporting elements, divided into three parts.
In reviewing the table below, it may be useful to imagine a final (annual) FiTI Country Report, with separate chapters on both the large-scale sector and the small-scale sector. Is the data on the small-scale sector sufficient, clear and what else could be added to this list?
It should be noted, this is only a starting point for further development of the reporting requirements, and the Working Group should feel free to elaborate, edit or redefine the reporting elements for the small-scale fisheries as needs be.