Many global fish stocks managed by regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) are over-exploited, and the sustainability of such stocks and their associated marine ecosystems is compromised. Addressing this global issue requires better compliance by RFMO members with the existing obligations of their organizations. Since September 2020, The Pew Charitable Trusts, in collaboration with the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF), has convened a series of expert workshops to identify some of the challenges in current compliance review mechanisms as well as potential solutions that would strengthen these processes and lead to improved member compliance.
The final report from the second workshop in the series, held in March 2021, focused on the issue of transparency, which participants regarded as a potential driver of improved information quality, better data exchange between RFMOs and among States and RFMOs, stronger verification mechanisms, and increased external confidence in RFMO compliance processes.
The objective of this workshop was to provide an in-depth analysis of the various facets, roles, and functions of transparency in RFMOs and, in particular, compliance review and assessment processes.
The meeting brought together nearly 40 compliance experts from RFMO secretariats and compliance committees, international and nongovernmental organizations, academia, and civil society. Participants explored all facets of transparency in compliance review mechanisms, including transparency of information to be provided to and by RFMOs; transparency of the actual review mechanisms, including deliberations; and transparency in determining outcomes and potential follow-up actions for situations of noncompliance, and for the RFMO as a whole.
By participating in the Pew and ISSF workshops, fisheries managers and other stakeholders have already shown a desire to make progress. And with this latest focus on transparency, participants have taken important steps toward improving RFMO compliance procedures.