Because it’s time to bring accountability to the world of international fisheries management.
International fisheries management is a broken system. But it’s a system that can be fixed – once people understand it and can take action to have our influence felt.
If you have ever eaten a can of tuna, you have probably interacted with a Regional Fisheries Management Organization (RFMO). You’ve also probably never heard of one, nor had any idea of how they operate.
RFMOs didn’t start out as a problem.
They started out as a way to address a problem – how to take care of critical fisheries in international waters.
Cooperating nations created RFMOs in the latter half of the twentieth century, to manage various commercially important fisheries like skipjack and bluefin tuna.
But like many international bodies, RFMOs lack teeth and are famously bad at holding their members accountable for their adherence to decisions they do adopt.
The rationale for their existence is to ensure conditions conducive to the long-term success of the fish and the fisheries they manage.
However, more and more often, they choose short term gain for certain special interests over long-term sustainability for all.
In the RFMO world, there is no requirement that members decide in favor of scientific advice when pitted against short term advantages for the best-connected stakeholders.
It’s time for a new way of making sure fisheries management reflects what’s best for people and planet.
Deals unfold in the backrooms and shadows, out of the plain view of citizen and environmental advocates.
The makeup of RFMOs might surprise you as well. Countries bordering the region of the oceanic geography in question are often members, but other players like China and the European Union are members of all of the major tuna RFMOs because of the size of their long-range industrial fishing fleets .
Also, their practice of consensus decision-making means that one nation, no matter how small or undemocratic, can derail anything.
Any one nation can, without any specific reason or justification, refuse to advance any measure, and in certain cases, they can even agree to a measure but exempt themselves from it.
For too long, the lopsided power that member states give their fishing industries has left citizens out of this process. Other important market players, like retailers and wholesalers, have been put out on the sidelines. The end result is a broken system with zero accountability and lousy outcomes for people and planet.
Well, enough is enough. Accountability.Fish is here to bring accountability to this process agibring the citizen voice to these crucial conversations – starting with a charter that will guarantee equality of access for citizen, scientific and labor groups with what is currently given to industry groups.
We’re building a movement to gain access to the RFMO process to support economic and environmental sustainability, drive accountability and transparency, and give communities, consumers and employees a fairer share of the pie.