The African Development Bank (AfDB) played a key role in the First International Conference on the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI) in Nouakchott, Mauritania, on February 3, 2016, on the invitation of the country’s President, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz.
The Conference was opened by President Ould Abdel Aziz and his Senegalese counterpart, Macky Sall, with keynote addresses from Isabella Lövin, Swedish Minister of International Cooperation for Development; Abdlatif Y. Al-Hamad, Director General and Chairman of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development; Louise Cord, Regional Director at the World Bank; and Peter Eigen, the Chair of the International Advisory Group of the Fisheries Transparency Initiative.
A high-level panel included representatives from Governments, international organizations, business and civil society. In their opening speeches, the two Heads of State highlighted the importance of the FiTI, which aims at enhancing responsible and sustainable fisheries through transparency and participation. Senegal’s President also saluted the role played by Mauritania in the fight against illicit fishing and terrorism.
In addition to the opening session, the conference convened four other sessions devoted to global efforts for responsible fisheries, responsible fisheries through transparency and participation (multi-stakeholder panel), the way forward, and adoption of the conference’s declaration.
Speaking as panellist at the multi-stakeholder panel, Sheila Khama, Director of the AfDB’s African Natural Resources Center (ANRC), expressed the Bank’s support to FiTI. She addressed the issue of transparency within the broader context of good governance and sustainable resources development, in keeping with the Bank’s strategic goals. Her remarks focused on the importance of the sector to the Bank’s vision for agricultural transformation, industrialization and human development strategies and objectives, as well as the need to go beyond sheer disclosure and focus on good governance through regulatory effectiveness, fair trade arrangements, transparent contracts, resource conservation and the elimination of illicit trade. She also stressed the importance of resource planning and monitoring to avoid depletion and to ensure equitable access between large commercial companies and small fishermen. Khama underscored the need to enable investment, and to ensure that current and future fishing contracts deliver fair value, allowing regional governments to negotiate future contracts.
Khama delivered a presentation on the role and strategy of the ANRC to the Bank’s Liaison Office in Mauritania, highlighting the mandate, the proposed strategic direction, the operating structure, the business model and the current initiatives of the Center.
At the end of the Conference, participants adopted the Nouakchott Declaration on the FiTI, which endorses seven principles as a foundation for the initiative to reflect the beliefs, objectives and expectations of the FiTI stakeholders. It also welcomes the announcement by the Governments of Mauritania, Senegal, the Seychelles and Indonesia to start the process of forming a dedicated national multi-stakeholder group for fisheries transparency within 2016. The Nouakchott Declaration urges states, business, civil society, international agencies, and donors to take active steps in promoting FiTI and supporting its long-term sustainability.
Against the background of the Conference, the Bank team used the opportunity to deepen its country dialogue on natural resources management and to meet with the Mauritanian Government authorities, namely the Ministers of Economic Affairs and Development, of Mining, Energy and Oil, and of Fisheries and Maritime Economy. The message of Akinwumi Adesina, President of the Bank, was conveyed to each of these authorities by Khama. The AfDB’s delegation also welcomed Mauritania’s leadership to the FiTI and identified areas of interest for the Bank, in particular the ANRC and the African Legal Support Facility (ALSF). These include the exchange of information and knowledge, contract management and negotiation, contract review, and implementation of FiTI. It is envisaged that the AfDB could assist the country in implementing FiTI as a component of an institutional support scheduled for 2017.