The Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI) announced today the start of its transparency assessment of publicly available marine fisheries information in Mauritius, with the goal of strengthening national and regional understanding and appreciation of the sector’s contributions.
An island state located off the eastern coast of the African continent Mauritius possesses one of the largest marine ecosystems in the southwest Indian Ocean. Its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) extends to 2.3 million square kilometres and contains a variety of commercial species of fish traded both internationally and on the local market.
It comes as no surprise that marine fisheries play an important socio-economic role in the country, contributing considerably to the economy of artisanal communities, and the food security of the entire population of just over 1.2 million. In 2017, capture fisheries production stood at about 25,000 tonnes, the majority of those stemming from artisanal fisheries, an integral part of the Mauritian culture. Public access to information on the management of the sector is therefore essential, so as to ensure national awareness and foster a participatory approach to its sustainable management.
In the coming months, the TAKING STOCK assessment will evaluate the types of fisheries management information that the national authorities of Mauritius publish on their websites based on the FiTI Standard. A total of 38 individual transparency elements, ranging from the publication of national laws, fisheries management plans, and vessel registries, to fisheries subsidies, trade information, and beneficial ownership will be covered to determine if the information is publicly accessible, current, easily found, and reusable.
Additionally, notable examples of good practices by the government in information sharing will be highlighted to give other countries a reference point for improving information transparency. Regional collaboration and information sharing for sustainable fisheries management between countries in the Indian Ocean was highlighted as an important target for Mauritius during discussions between a delegation from the Mauritian Ministry of Blue Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries and Shipping and representatives of the FiTI International Secretariat earlier this year.
“Governments are responsible for managing the fisheries on behalf of their citizens, but fisheries management is a multi-stakeholder process involving the participation of other actors beyond only those in government. The TAKING STOCK assessment will help the Mauritian authorities to understand better the fisheries information they are making available to the wider public, what information they hold but should be publishing, and what information they have not yet collated,” said Will May, FiTI’s Regional Coordinator for the Western Indian Ocean. “As well as providing a personalised benchmark for the government to make improvements in information transparency over time, the assessment, more importantly, will provide a powerful tool for knowledge sharing on best practices, challenges, along with possible collaborative efforts to improve fisheries transparency across the region.”
The findings of the TAKING STOCK assessment for Mauritius will be published in an assessment report (in French) in the second half of 2022.
Recently, the FiTI has launched the findings of its inaugural TAKING STOCK assessment, which focuses on Bangladesh and stands as the first in a series of national studies of government transparency in global marine fisheries set to be published over the coming years.