The FiTI International Secretariat conducted a four-day country mission to Grande Comore, Comoros, from 24th to 27th October, to present the preliminary findings of the TAKING STOCK assessment of the Indian Ocean archipelago to the country’s central government.
Due for launch on 21 November, the TAKING STOCK assessment evaluates the level of fisheries management information published by Comorian national authorities on government websites in line with the 12 transparency requirements of the FiTI Standard.
Staff from the Direction Générale des Resources Halieutiques (DGRH) were briefed by Mr. Will May, FiTI’s Regional Coordinator for the Western Indian Ocean, on the scope, objectives and preliminary findings of the assessment. Encouraging discussions saw the DGRH provide clarifications to outstanding areas of uncertainty in the assessment, namely where a lack of publicly available information has rendered it difficult to ascertain whether fisheries information is held but not published by the government or simply has not been produced at all.
The DGRH also underlined that the assessment should take into account that publishing fisheries information online has not historically been a part of government practice in Comoros due to a lack of widespread internet usage across the islands. The Directorate further noted that the assessment should highlight the fact that low levels of online government transparency do not necessarily equate to wrongdoing or a desire to hide information. It was agreed that these concerns would be fairly reflected in the assessment which will be published in the form of two reports – a Summary Assessment Report (in French and English) and a Detailed Assessment Report (in French).
As per the standardised methodology of the FiTI’s TAKING STOCK programme, the government (through the DGRH) was also invited to make use of a two-week feedback period in order to provide official comments to the assessment’s conclusions.
While on Grande Comore, Mr. May also held a meeting with the Minister of Fisheries, H.E. Houmed M’Saidie, during which the Minister again expressed interest in Comoros joining the FiTI as part of his push to strengthen good governance in the fisheries sector. The steps to achieve this were clearly laid out, with a public commitment from the Comoros’ government being the first.
Additional meetings were held with key stakeholders during this country mission, including Abdourazak Ibrahim, Deputy Secretary General of Government, Chamsoudine Ali Abderemane, Head of the Comoros National Fishing Company, as well as staff from the US Embassy, the French Embassy and the Agence française de développement (AFD).