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CFT seeks to advance transparency in the fishing sector through advocacy and strengthened collaboration.

BirdLife International is the latest member to join the Coalition for Fisheries Transparency (CFT), a coalition of civil society organizations co-chaired by Oceana and the Environmental Justice Foundation with about 50 members currently, including the Regional Partnership for Coastal and Marine Conservation (PRCM) and the WWF Network, among others.

CFT seeks to advance transparency in the fishing sector through advocacy and strengthened collaboration. The Coalition provides a platform that enables member organizations to collaborate on joint strategies and maximize the impact of their advocacy work. Ultimately, CFT aims to support member NGOs in their advocacy efforts to encourage governments adopt fisheries policy principles, like those featured in the Coalition’s Global Charter for Transparency.

The Coalition is guided by the steering committee of select civil society leaders in fisheries transparency who provide support on defining its priorities and developing necessary policies. Co-chaired by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) and Oceana, the committee consists of six other members including Accountability.Fish, Global Fishing Watch (GFW), Indonesia Ocean Justice Initiative (IOJI), PRCM, Seafood Legacy, and the WWF Network.

Participants at a CFT regional workshop held in Accra in February 2024 © Coalition for Fisheries Transparency/urbanphlicks 

Seafood is the world’s largest globally traded food commodity and the last food that humans still exploit on a global scale. However, lack of openness and accountability in fishery information, activities, and decision-making has enabled fisheries mismanagement; illegal fishing; human rights and labor abuses; unfair access to resources; and fraud and corruption. The result is overexploited stocks, jeopardized livelihoods, food insecurity in coastal communities, and threats to the safety and security of fishery workers. This coupled with patchy international fisheries management systems, has allowed illegal fishing to continue unchecked.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, more than 90% of global fisheries stocks are being fully exploited, overexploited, or depleted, further underlining the need for transparency.

Thus, there is need for global transparency policies to ensure effective ocean governance. For example, information about who is catching what, where, when, and how should be freely available and directly accessible to all. Transparency enables all stakeholders including fishers, coastal communities, seafood buyers, governments, regional organizations, journalists, and civil society organizations to play a part in ensuring that fisheries are legal, ethical, and sustainable.

“Through its important work around the world, BirdLife International is a vital member of the Coalition for Fisheries Transparency. In the West Africa region, BirdLife’s activities aim to ensure transparency, inclusivity, and sustainable practices as is reflected in their efforts to advocate for transparent EU fisheries agreements, foster collaboration, and information sharing, and build capacity to empower fisheries sector stakeholders”, says Maisie Pigeon, Director of the Coalition for Fisheries Transparency.

“We are very excited for BirdLife International to have joined the Coalition and to work closely with the other members as collaboration strengthens advocacy and helps promote positive change. Ultimately we believe that transparency is a tool to support more open and equitable fisheries, which is vital for the sustainable use of marine resources”, notes Oliver Yates, Head of Marine Programme at BirdLife International.

In Africa, BirdLife through its marine programme is engaged in various initiatives and activities with the aim to ensure transparency, inclusivity, and sustainable practices particularly in West African fisheries. This is done among others through policy advocacy and stakeholder engagement such as regarding fisheries agreements, fostering of collaboration and information sharing and capacity building based on an ecosystem approach to fisheries and data collection. These activities aim to foster responsible and equitable resource management while safeguarding the interests of all stakeholders.

Tabea Zwimpfer, Africa Marine Coordinator at BirdLife International makes a point during the CFT regional workshop © Coalition for Fisheries Transparency/urbanphlicks 

In February 2024, BirdLife took part in the CFT regional workshop for West Africa in Accra, Ghana which brought together about 30 other organizations from the region. During this workshop, the participants deliberated on the 10 Principles of the Global Charter for Fisheries Transparency, mapped related activities which are currently underway in the West African region, and shared fisheries transparency policy priorities of West and Central African Civil Society Organizations (CSOs). Further the participants highlighted obstacles and solutions to advancing transparency policy, policy priorities at the national and regional levels in addition to opportunities for collaborative action.

“BirdLife International believes that transparency is vital for sustainable and equitable fisheries”, concludes Tabea Zwimpfer, Africa Marine Coordinator at BirdLife International.

Header photo: Fishing boats at a port in Cabo Verde © BirdLife

“Through its important work around the world, BirdLife International is a vital member of the Coalition for Fisheries Transparency.”

Maisie Pigeon, Director, Coalition for Fisheries Transparency