||The international environmental governance community began talking about transparency
in the 1990s and regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) in particular
have been called upon to increase their transparency. Transparency is credited with
a number of beneficial qualities, including encouraging compliance and increasing
the accountability and responsiveness of governments. It is hoped that improving
the transparency of marine governance organizations will lead to more effective conservation
and management of the resources within their jurisdiction.
This project explores transparency in marine governance organizations first by tracking
the use and legal weight of the term in international marine governing bodies, and
then by assessing the degree to which RFMOs are transparent. In order to evaluate
the transparency of RFMOs, a questionnaire was developed based upon internationally
recommended practices. The questionnaire divides transparency into three broad categories:
availability of information, participation in decision-making, and access to outcomes.
On average, RFMOs received 76 percent of the total available points in the questionnaire.
While no single RFMO stood out as having particularly good or bad transparency practices,
at least one organization received the maximum number of points for all but one of
the questions in the assessment. This indicates that there is a great capacity for
RFMOs to improve their transparency simply by adopting best practices currently utilized
by their peers. In so doing, RFMOs will increase their capacity to effectively manage
the living resources under their authority.