On January 18-19th 2015, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania hosted the “High level conference on transparency and sustainable development in Africa” in Nouakchott, Mauritania. The conference welcomed a number of Heads of African States, officials from several governments as well as high representatives of the European Union, the United Nations, the World Bank and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). Prof. Dr. Peter Eigen — Founder of Transparency International and Co-Founder of the HUMBOLDT-VIADRINA Governance Platform also participated in the event.
The Mauritanian President H.E. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz — then chair of the African Union — opened the conference by announcing the establishment of a new global Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI). With this announcement, the Government of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania showed its willingness to take action in order to ensure that Mauritania’s bountiful fisheries continue to generate sustainable benefits for the Mauritanian population.
The need for transparency in fisheries has been emphasized and called for by a number of organizations in recent years. Amongst others, important initiatives seeking to improve the sector’s governance and to put an end to unsustainable fishing practices were conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (through the 2012 “Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance and Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security” and the 2015 “Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries”), the European Union, the World Bank, the Africa Progress Panel (with the 2014 report “Grain, Fish, Money: Financing Africa’s Green and Blue Revolutions”), as well as by other civil society organizations such as Greenpeace, WWF and Confédération Africaine des Organisations Professionnelles de la Pêche Artisanale (CAOPA).
The conference resulted in the joint issue of the Nouakchott Declaration, which called on others to support and match the commitment of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania regarding a series of behaviors and policies on illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
Welcoming the declaration, Prof. Dr. Peter Eigen declared “Fisheries are a critical natural resource for many, many people, especially here in Mauritania and throughout West Africa, so it makes perfect sense to establish a new fisheries transparency initiative that is based on the model of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI)”.
Building on the commitment of H.E. Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz to enhance transparency in the fisheries, Prof. Dr. Peter Eigen also emphasized that “better dialogue between government, civil society, and the private sector can lead to very powerful levels of trust and transparency which, in turn, can enable a country’s citizens to benefit from its natural resources, including fish.”