Contributor: Andre Standing, TransparentSea
Scientific studies in almost all regions of the world highlight decreasing fishing catches and the degradation of marine ecosystems, primarily caused by overfishing, but also compounded by climate change, pollution and habitat destruction. Lack of transparency and government openness is increasingly recognized as part of the problem. In many coastal and Island states basic information on which companies are allowed to fish, how much these companies can catch, how much revenue is being generated from fisheries and how this is being spent, is obscured from the public. This is not a unique problem to developing states, but it is citizens living in Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America who disproportionately feel the negative impacts of governance failure. According to the FAO, developing countries now account for 60% of global fish trade, estimated to be worth USD 100 billion, and of the estimated 135 million people directly employed in marine fisheries, 90% are based in developing countries
Lack of transparency is not only undermining the effectiveness of fisheries management and denying national revenues; it is also obscuring the true value of marine resources, as well as the social and economic cost of losing them. A commitment by governments, in all regions, to be more open about the management of fisheries would lead to improved knowledge on the actual and potential contribution of fisheries, which in turn may stimulate political will to better address the threats caused by overfishing and the further degradation of marine ecosystems.