Request for Proposal - Ultimate Beneficial Ownership Transparency in Fisheries and Data Confidentiality Requirements

Global Fishing Watch

Global Fishing Watch

Posted on Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Ultimate Beneficial Ownership Transparency in Fisheries and Data Confidentiality Requirements

A request for proposals

Who we are

Global Fishing Watch is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing ocean governance through increased transparency of human activity at sea. By creating and publicly sharing map visualizations, data and analysis tools, we aim to enable scientific research and transform the way our ocean is managed. We believe human activity at sea should be public knowledge in order to safeguard the global ocean for the common good of all.

Project background

According to the United Nations, good governance has eight major characteristics. It is participatory, consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive and follows the rule of law. It assures that corruption is minimised, the views of minorities are taken into account and that the voices of the most vulnerable in society are heard in decision-making.

As ocean resources can be shared across jurisdictions and are often out of sight, ocean governance presents particular challenges to decision makers. Currently, multiple disconnected regulations set different rules based on geographies, species, fishing gear types and seasons. This patchwork system allows unscrupulous fishing vessel operators to take advantage of loopholes, undermining our collective efforts to conserve and sustainably use the ocean.

All ocean governance decision makers – the policy-maker developing legislation, the body authorising a fishing vessel to operate, the manager implementing marine protections, the scientist calculating blue carbon sink analyses, the inspector boarding a vessel to assess compliance and the judge issuing a penalty for non-compliance – need to know who a vessel is, what it is authorised to do and where it has been operating. Transparency, that is the making of actions and decisions taken as well as the specific ocean and vessel data that underlies them available and accessible, offers a modern, cost-effective and scalable approach. Greater transparency of human activity at sea will inform dynamic, data-driven decisions and provide a level of accountability that can be enforced.

Transparency of vessel information, including beneficial ownership information, is increasingly recognised as beneficial to ocean governance. An international framework to address fisheries management has been continually improved and expanded by the United Nations (UN), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and its Member States since the adoption of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982. A combination of binding agreements and voluntary instruments make up this framework, which seeks to facilitate management of fisheries at the global, regional and national levels. Within this framework, a number of provisions and requirements specifically address illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, with guidance relating to port State measures, flag State performance, coastal State responsibilities, market State measures, or a combination of all or some of these. More recently, instruments have been formulated and agreed upon which specifically address IUU fishing.Together, these instruments comprise a powerful suite of tools to combat IUU fishing—an achievement that cannot be reached unless States fulfil their responsibilities under this framework.

To be effective in penalising unscrupulous operators and deterring future illegal activities, sanctions must be applied appropriately. However, it is not the vessel which is accountable for following regulations, it is the owners and operators. It is currently too easy for beneficial owners to hide behind layers of shell companies, evading sanctions for the activities of their vessels.

Transparency of ultimate beneficial ownership data exists across many sectors, but not yet in fisheries. Concerns have been raised relating to compliance with national data protection policies and best practice data confidentiality recommendations.

Assignment Description

The assignment aims to conduct a legal review of data confidentiality requirements and consider how these apply to ultimate beneficial ownership data in the fisheries sector, including:

  • Data protection and confidentiality policies
  • Freedom of information policies
  • Common practices in the absence of beneficial ownership disclosure nor data protection obligations.
  • Beneficial ownership transparency requirements, procedures in other sectors
  • Beneficial ownership transparency standards and exchange of information in other sectors

The Consultant will propose a plan of work that will include a combination of desk studies and interviews. This assignment will be conducted in collaboration with Global Fishing Watch and will follow the framework below:

  1. Desk study
  2. Expert and stakeholder interviews
  3. Recommendations

Legal analysis expertise and an understanding of data protection policies is required, as well as advanced project management expertise, a high level of organisation, written and verbal communication skills and comfort and experience in interviewing people in a respectful way from a variety of backgrounds and cultures.

The deadline to apply is 29 November, 2023.