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Seychelles

Implementation of the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI) (SYC0003)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Seychelles Action Plan 2019-2021

Action Plan Cycle: 2019

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Blue Economy Department

Support Institution(s): Office of Vice President Department of Fisheries Seychelles Fishing Authority Department of Blue Economy United Seychelles Party Linyon Demokratik Seselwa Party Civil Society Platforms (CEPS): - Sustainability for Seychelles - Seychelles, Sports Fishing Club - Transparency Initiatives (Seychelles - 1 Member and a Youth Grouping Industry: - Purse Seiners - Fishing Boat Owners Association - Fish Processor - Fishermen from Praslin

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government, Extractive Industries, Natural Resources, Public Participation

IRM Review

IRM Report: Seychelles Transitional Results Report 2019-2021

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Marginal

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

What is the public problem that the commitment will address?
Coastal countries, like the Seychelles, face a complex challenge: ensuring that fishing and fish trade contribute to income, employment, food and nutrition for millions of people, while also conserving marine biodiversity for future generations. Seychelles is heavily reliant on its fisheries and the contribution to the GDP in 2013 according to the World Bank was reported as 8%, contributing 17% of the total employment of the population of only 94,000. The Seychelles also has one of the highest fish consumption per capita (circa 65kg per annum), making it the highest in Africa. While there are many aspects to achieve sustainable fisheries, the public availability of credible information is critical. Without transparency, governments cannot function to their potential. Transparency of information nurtures knowledge and the sharing of ideas. It also deepens the understanding of the important nature of the fisheries sectors, as well as the challenges that exist. Yet, in the Seychelles, certain information on our fisheries sector is not available at all, nor is it shared widely. Moreover, the dissemination of information is often not timely, of insufficient quality or objectivity, or presented in ways that make it inaccessible to our citizens.

What is the commitment?
The government of the Seychelles is committed to empowering all stakeholders in the fisheries industry to participate in its development and to hold the authority and decision makers accountable. Therefore, the government will establish a multi-stakeholder group, consisting of both industrial and artisanal fishermen, sports fishermen, civil society, government, and members of both political parties to implement the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI). The Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI) seeks to increase transparency and participation in fisheries governance for the benefit of a more sustainable management of marine fisheries and the well-being of citizens and businesses that depend on the marine environment. The FiTI is a global multi-stakeholder initiative that defines for the first time what information on fisheries should be published online by public authorities.

How will the commitment contribute to solve the public problem?
Public access to information on how the Seychelles marine fisheries sector is being exploited is fundamental for good governance. Every stakeholder group, including local fishing communities, private companies, investors, retailers and partner countries engaged in fishing agreements stand to benefit from good and transparent management, ensuring a long-term contribution of the fisheries sector to the national economy and the fair distribution of revenues. Consequently, the impact of the FiTI does not lie only in the act of publishing information. It also ensures that this information is perceived by all relevant actors as credible, and that it contributes to the public debate in the Seychelles. For example, it is only normal that our citizens should know what fisheries agreements comprise of, what are the vessels licensed, the catch, the fees paid and what is the revenue is used for.

Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
This commitment is relevant to access to information and civic participation because it will promote transparency, empower citizens, and fight corruption.
With the implementation of the FiTI, Seychelles will establish an annual process to publish the so-called FiTI Report, which
• Demonstrates whether transparency requirements have been fulfilled, i.e. if the information published by national authorities is accessible and complete, and represents the best available information;
• provides a succinct summary of information on each transparency requirements to contribute to public debates; and
• communicates the recommendations of the National Multi-Stakeholder Group, including improving the publication of data on the transparency requirements in the public domain, e.g. government databases, websites, online reports.
Furthermore, the FiTI emphasises the need for national authorities to develop and strengthen their own systems for collating and publishing information online in a complete and accessible manner.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

3. Implementation of the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI)

The government of the Seychelles is committed to empowering all stakeholders in the fisheries industry to participate in its development and to hold the authority and decision makers accountable.

Therefore, the government will establish a multi-stakeholder group, consisting of both industrial and artisanal fishermen, sports fishermen, civil society, government, and members of both political parties to implement the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI). The Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI) seeks to increase transparency and participation in fisheries governance for the benefit of a more sustainable management of marine fisheries and the well-being of citizens and businesses that depend on the marine environment. The FiTI is a global multi-stakeholder initiative that defines for the first-time what information on fisheries should be published online by public authorities.

Main Objective

Public access to information on how the Seychelles marine fisheries sector is being exploited is fundamental for good governance. Every stakeholder group, including local fishing communities, private companies, investors, retailers and partner countries engaged in fishing agreements stand to benefit from good and transparent management, ensuring a long-term contribution of the fisheries sector to the national economy and the fair distribution of revenues.

Consequently, the impact of the FiTI does not lie only in the act of publishing information. It also ensures that this information is perceived by all relevant actors as credible, and that it contributes to the public debate in the Seychelles. For example, it is only normal that our citizens should know what fisheries agreements comprise of, what are the vessels licensed, the catch, the fees paid and what is the revenue is used for.

Milestones

  • The FiTI National Multi-Stakeholder Group submits the Seychelles official FiTI Candidate Application to the FiTI International Board, in accordance with the FiTI Standard.
  • The FiTI National Multi-Stakeholder Group publishes the Seychelles first FiTI Report (comprising of information from 2019), in accordance with the FiTI Standard.
  • The FiTI National Multi-Stakeholder Group communicates with all relevant stakeholders the results of the first FiTI Report.
  • Train and equip small-scale fishing associations and civil society to understand and analyse key information of Seychelles fisheries management system.

Editorial note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Seychelles' action plan at https://www.opengovpartnership.org/documents/seychelles-action-plan-2019-2021/.

IRM Design Report Assessment

Verifiable:

Yes

Relevant:

Access to Information

Potential impact:

Moderate

Commitment analysis

The Fisheries sector plays a salient role in Seychelles, contributing between 8 to 20% of gross domestic product (GDP), employing 17% of the working population, contributing significantly to food security, and is a critical export and foreign exchange earner. [80] The fisheries sector is categorised into three sub-sectors: industrial, semi-industrial and artisanal. [81] Foreign vessels gain access to Seychelles' waters via private or bilateral fishing agreements and the issuance of licenses. Some of these agreements—such as the one with the European Union (EU), outline various levies to be charged. These, together with the income from licensing fees, are meant to be channelled towards developing Seychelles' fisheries sector. [82]

The Fisheries Act (2014) [83] is the main piece of legislation regulating the sector and is enforced mainly by the semi-autonomous agency known as the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA). [84] The SFA's strategic plan for 2018–2020 encourages greater transparency in fisheries management by enhancing stakeholder participation in discussions on management plans and measures and identifies the need for concerted efforts around public awareness. [85] Similarly, a key objective of the 2019 Seychelles Fisheries Sector Policy and Strategy includes the promotion of visibility, transparency, participation and inclusivity in decision-making. [86]

The policy states that improving transparency entails openly sharing the negotiations and outcomes of fisheries access agreements, creating policy frameworks that lead to more inclusive or equitable distribution of benefits from foreign trade, and enhancing access to information and collaboration amongst national agencies, the regional fisheries management organisations and regional and international stakeholders. [87] This is essential, as sustainable fisheries partnership agreements (SFPAs), such as that negotiated with the EU, do not require consultation with local stakeholders with no provisions for transparency on how income from such agreements will be used. [88]

A feasibility study carried out in 2016 indicated various barriers to access to information in Seychelles. [89] The study described the SFA as being relatively transparent, with a good track record in terms of supplying comprehensive data. It however highlighted that the SFA experienced significant delays in publishing its annual reports. The study also described catch data as lacking reliability and highlighted limited information on a range of areas including the fisheries management plan. [90] Information published by the SFA also needed to be publicised and repackaged for ease of public consumption. Lastly, and perhaps most significantly, was that the Fisheries Act lacked requirements for public access to relevant information, [91] particularly information on fisheries agreements, official development assistance and beneficial ownership. [92] Some of these concerns are addressed in Regulations on the Sustainable Management of External Fishing Fleets (SMEFF) of 2017. [93]

The lack of government data has created a vacuum in which rumours and misinformation thrive, with the last comprehensive overview of the status of the fisheries sector in Seychelles conducted in 2014. [94] Reports are also emerging around non-compliance with the SMEFF regulations, indicating EU fleets that underreport on various indicators. [95] Contributing to these challenges are the operational and leadership challenges at the SFA, including high management turnover, budgetary constraints, confusion over the scope of the SFA's mandate [96] and lack of demand for fisheries information within the sector despite the acknowledged gaps in transparency. [97]

The Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI) was established to improve fisheries governance by enhancing access to information. [98] Limited access to information on fisheries agreements has proven detrimental to domestic marine resources, such as in Senegal and Mozambique. [99] FiTI contributes ultimately to addressing the impacts of illegal fishing, overfishing, weak governance frameworks and corruption that affect marine resources and the fisheries sector and that affect the livelihoods of citizens, especially in coastal states. [100] Through this commitment, Seychelles will prepare to join FiTI and follow its multistakeholder approach by involving representatives from the government, civil society, and the private sector.

This commitment is generally verifiable based on the first three milestones specifying compliance with the FiTI standard. However, it is unclear whether the milestone on training small-scale fishing associations is directly related to the FiTI process. Furthermore, the commitment does not clearly indicate the extent of dissemination nor how dissemination will drive effective consumption of the report once it is published.

The commitment is relevant to the value of access to information. According to interviews, the FiTI process will lead to better information and awareness and enhance stakeholders' understanding, participation and ownership of the sector. The effectiveness of the commitment however hinges largely on the government's ability to utilise the FiTI report in generating public discourse on fisheries transparency. Previously, there has been minimal outreach and public participation in the fisheries sector outside of annual celebrations of World Food Day or during the development of the Marine spatial plan. There are now plans in place to hold workshops with fishing communities and the fish processing sector to unpack the content of the FiTI report. [101] This likely follows from stakeholders' fears around the potential low public demand for information once the FITI report is published, given what they describe as a culture of public lethargy concerning demanding or interrogating information within the sector. [102] There are therefore plans to package the report into attractive summaries that are easily consumable. [103] To aid dissemination, FiTI will also provide some financial support for a workshop and official launch of the report. [104]

The commitment's potential impact is seen as moderate. The commitment will result in the adoption of a framework that organises, produces and packages key new information that extends beyond information the SFA previously provided. According to stakeholders, the FiTI report will produce new information on subsidies, overseas development assistance, and foreign access to licensing arrangements and fisheries resources. The FITI report will also indicate how accessible and complete existing information on the sector is, highlighting the necessary improvements that should be made. [105] The annual report is to be made accessible to the public, and the information produced, along with existing information, will be repackaged to make it readily consumable by the public, for instance, through the use of infographics or other audio-visual material. [106] This framework would further be undertaken and monitored through a national multistakeholder platform. This would constitute a significant step forward towards meeting the objectives of greater transparency and bringing some coherence to the sector. Those the IRM researcher interviewed agreed that the FiTI report would likely have a substantial positive impact on the sector with the additional advantage of having a FiTI International Secretariat based in Seychelles. [107]

Next steps

The commitment fails to outline any particular milestones that will address particular gaps or system challenges that will need to be addressed for transformative change to take place, such as policy and role incoherence and current challenges at the SFA. [108] Given that FiTI is a voluntary initiative, it would be prudent for the government to consider various actions it could take should other countries refuse to comply with the standards imposed by the initiative. [109] The SFA needs to consider how to demonstrate and/or communicate the values of transparency and good governance beyond the dissemination of the FiTI report. For instance, commercial stakeholders would need to be convinced that beneficial ownership transparency will not be used against them and that it is in their interest to fully disclose their information. [110] Furthermore, the government could utilise the FiTI report to gain public trust by disclosing data such as labour and working conditions and opportunities to participate in development projects that are of interest to local communities. [111]

It would also be useful to graft milestones that commit to the progressive institutionalisation of the FiTI framework into the government's approach. This would include clear feedback mechanisms between the multistakeholder group and the public. [112] Additionally, lessons from experiences in the EITI process indicate the need to plan for the simplification of outputs of the process for the initiative's objectives to be easily consumed by the public. [113] While such efforts are underway, inclusion in the commitment's implementation strategy would emphasize their importance. For example, a comprehensive public campaign could convey the message of transparency and participation in fishery management. Similarly, it would be useful for SFA to outline how the FiTI report can be used as a tool to advance policy dialogues and as a platform for discussion around addressing the systemic challenges identified above. Therefore, information in the FiTI report should be actionable and connected to structures, such as spaces for dialogue and dedicated committees, to ensure that recommendations are acted on. Lastly, it may be useful to see how the IRM and the EITI evaluations could be leveraged to spur FiTI's process, which could also be the key to avoiding duplicated efforts and stakeholder fatigue.

[80] André Standing, "Seychelles Feasibility Study" (Fisheries Transparency Initiative, 2016), http://fisheriestransparency.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/FiTI_FeasibilityStudy_Seychelles_final_20160608.pdf; "Project Appraisal Document Proposed Grant from the Global Environment Facility Trust Fund" (The World Bank, 2017), http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/394051505478217219/pdf/SEYCHELLES-PAD-09122017.pdf; "Fishery Country Profiles: Seychelles" (Food and Agricultural Organization, 2005), http://www.fao.org/fishery/docs/DOCUMENT/fcp/en/FI_CP_SC.pdf.
[81] Standing, "Seychelles Feasibility Study"; "Project Appraisal Document"; "Seychelles Fisheries Sector Policy and Strategy" (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Seychelles, 2019), http://www.mofa.gov.sc/downloads/Seychelles%20Fisheries%20Sector%20Policy%20.pdf.
[82] Standing, "Seychelles Feasibility Study"; "Project Appraisal Document".
[83] "Fisheries Act" (Government of the Republic of Seychelles, 2014), http://www.sfa.sc/index.php/services/regulations/fisheries-act/Legislations/Fisheries-Act-2014/.
[84] "Project Appraisal Document"; Paige M. Roberts, Laura C. Burroughs, Robert H. Mazurek, "An Exploration of Federal Fisheries Management Agencies in Eastern Africa" (Secure Fisheries, 2017), https://securefisheries.org/sites/default/files/Exploration-Fisheries-Management-2017.pdf.
[85] "Seychelles Fishing Authority Strategic Plan 2018–2020 Volume 1" (Seychelles Fishing Authority, 2018), https://www.oceandocs.org/bitstream/handle/1834/14808/SFA%20Strategic%20Plan%202018%20-%202020.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y.
[86] "Seychelles Fisheries Sector Policy and Strategy", p. 11.
[87] Ibid.
[88] "Unclear EU Fishing Deals Compromise Food Security and Sustainable Seafood" (WWF, Nov. 2019), https://www.wwf.eu/?uNewsID=355880.
[89] Standing, "Seychelles Feasibility Study".
[90] Ibid.
[91] Ibid.
[92] Ibid.; Fisheries Transparency Initiative, interview by IRM researcher, 19 Jun. 2020; Solène Guggisberg, "The EU's Regulation on the Sustainable Management of External Fishing Fleets: International and European Law Perspectives" (The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law 34 (2), pp. 291–324, 2019), https://brill.com/view/journals/estu/34/2/article-p291_4.xml?language=en - note-FN000125.
[93] "Unclear EU Fishing Deals Compromise Food Security".
[94] Fisheries Transparency Initiative, interview; Department of the Blue Economy of Seychelles, interview.
[95] "Unclear EU Fishing Deals Compromise Food Security".
[96] Fisheries Transparency Initiative, interview; Department of the Blue Economy of Seychelles, interview.
[97] Ibid.
[98] Ibid.
[99] André Standing "Developing the Fisheries Industry Transparency Initiative: What Can We Learn from the EITI?" (Coalition for Fair Fisheries Arrangements, May 2015), https://cape-cffa.squarespace.com/en-blog/the-fisheries-industry-transparency-initiative.
[100] "Protecting the Bounty of Africa's Oceans: An Interview with Dr Peter Eigen, Chair of the Fisheries Transparency Initiative International Board" (African Development Bank, 2017), https://www.afdb.org/en/news-and-events/protecting-the-bounty-of-africas-oceans-an-interview-with-dr-peter-eigen-chair-of-the-fisheries-transparency-initiative-international-board-17496.
[101] Department of the Blue Economy of Seychelles, interview.
[102] Department of the Blue Economy of Seychelles, interview; Fisheries Transparency Initiative, interview
[103] Fisheries Transparency Initiative, interview.
[104] Ibid.
[105] AFDB (2017) Protecting the bounty of Africa's oceans: An interview with Dr Peter Eigen, Chair of the Fisheries Transparency Initiative International Board. https://www.afdb.org/en/news-and-events/protecting-the-bounty-of-africas-oceans-an-interview-with-dr-peter-eigen-chair-of-the-fisheries-transparency-initiative-international-board-17496' Department of the Blue Economy of Seychelles, interview; Fisheries Transparency Initiative, interview.
[106] Department of the Blue Economy of Seychelles, interview; Fisheries Transparency Initiative, interview.
[107] Ibid.; Department of the Blue Economy of Seychelles, interview; Transparency Initiative Seychelles, interview by IRM researcher, 16 Jun. 2020.
[108] "Seychelles Fisheries Sector Policy and Strategy"; "Challenges for Fishing Sector in Seychelles: Lack of Manpower, Illegal Fishing, Old Technology" (Stop Illegal Fishing, Oct. 2018), https://stopillegalfishing.com/press-links/challenges-for-fishing-sector-in-seychelles-lack-of-manpower-illegal-fishing-old-technology/; "Shining a Light: The Need for Transparency across Distant Water Fishing" (Stimson, 2019), https://www.stimson.org/wp-content/files/file-attachments/Stimson Distant Water Fishing Report.pdf; P. Mawanda, "Illegal Fishing – Pillaging of Seychelles Seas Continues" (Blue Economy Knowledge Center Seychelles, May 2015), http://blueeconomyseychelles.org/item/109-illegal-fishing-pillaging-of-seychelles-seas-continues; S. Hanoomanjee, "Mapping Study on the Fisheries Sector in the IOC Region" (CTA Discussion Paper, accessed Jun. 2020), https://www.libraryofbook.com/pdf/read.php?book=mapping-study-on-the-fisheries-sector-in-the-ioc-region; Department of the Blue Economy of Seychelles, interview.
[109] Interview 8, Interview with IRM researcher, 10th June 2020; EU, Republic of Seychelles (2020) Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Republic Of Seychelles. Official Journal of the European Union https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?from=ES&uri=CELEX%3A22020A0228%2801%29#d1e38-15-1; Philippe, J. (2020) Local fisheries stakeholders react to the new EU-Seychelles SFPA and protocol. Coalition for Fair Fisheries Agreements, 6th April 2020. https://www.cffacape.org/publications-blog/seychelles-position-paper; FBOA (2020) Position on the EU-Seychelles SFPA. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5d402069d36563000151fa5b/t/5e8b25b75905f7723a736c63/1586177464566/200406+EU+-+Seychelles+SFPA_FBOA.pdf; Goulding, I., Caillart, B., Defaux, V. (2019) Ex-post and ex-ante evaluation study of the fisheries partnership agreement between the European Union and the Republic of Seychelles and of its implementing protocol. European Commission. https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/5e1b1689-7785-11e9-9f05-01aa75ed71a1/language-en/format-PDF/source-117116268
[110] Department of the Blue Economy of Seychelles, interview.
[111] Standing, "Seychelles Feasibility Study".
[112] "Civil Society Engagement in Validation of Seychelles Report on Initial Data Collection and Stakeholder Consultation" (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Jul. 2018), https://eiti.org/files/documents/validation_of_seychelles_-_report_on_initial_data_collection_and_stakeholder_consultation.pdf.
[113] Ibid.

Commitments

Open Government Partnership