Bangladesh became the first country in the world to undergo an online transparency assessment conducted by the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI), which reviewed the extent to which information about Bangladesh's marine fisheries sector is made available online by the government on its own websites.
The TAKING STOCK assessment is carried out according to the requirements of the FiTI standard, the only internationally recognised framework defining what fisheries management information governments should publish online across 12 key areas- reads a press release.
Aside from reviewing whether the information is published online, the TAKING STOCK assessment also considers the quality of available information provided by the government to determine if it is up to date and easy for people to find.
The findings for Bangladesh show notable efforts by the government to publish fisheries information online. Specifically, for 18 out of 32 applicable transparency elements evaluated during the assessment, information is available. Such information includes:
• annual reports detailing fisheries management activities and updates on policy developments, legislative changes, and projects.
• data on the fish caught within Bangladesh waters by both large-scale and small-scale fisheries, and
• a list of large-scale vessels authorised to apply for fishing licenses
However, the information published by the Bangladesh government is of varying quality and cannot always be easily understood by a normal person with an interest in fisheries- according to the study.
The assessment deduced that a great portion of the information that is published by the Bangladesh government, specifically 10 out of the 18 transparency elements, was either only partially available online, outdated, or difficult to find. Moreover, a range of information required for sustainable fisheries management in Bangladesh is not publicly available at all. For 10 transparency elements, the government publishes no information, although there is an indication such information exists.
One example relates to payments made by large-scale vessels. Although the revised Marine Fisheries Act 2020 requires payments to be made by large-scale fishing vessels operating in our waters, no information is published online regarding the money gathered by our government.
There are also instances where information for some transparency elements is simply not yet collected by the government. For example, the government does not conduct a comprehensive analysis to understand how healthy our fish stocks are.
The study advocated for proactive steps to collect and share this information with the wider public to ensure that we all know the state of the sector and so that we too can participate in its management by asking the right questions and pushing for appropriate strategies.
The TAKING STOCK assessment provides a useful baseline for all stakeholders in Bangladesh to better understand what fisheries information is already published online by the government, and what is missing. Using the recommendations put forward in the assessment, the government can continue improving public access to fisheries information, making the sector more inclusive, and transparent.
The findings of Bangladesh's TAKING STOCK assessment are published on the FiTI website at www.fiti.global, in English and in Bangla.
About the Fisheries Transparency Initiative
The Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI) is a global multi-stakeholder initiative that strengthens transparency and collaboration in marine fisheries management. By making fisheries management more transparent and inclusive, the FiTI promotes informed public debates on fisheries policies and supports the long-term contribution of the sector to national economies and the well-being of citizens and businesses that depend on a healthy marine environment.