The need for improved fisheries data is a major challenge for sustainable fisheries management in many emerging economies. As is the case with industries such as health care, mobile technology may offer solutions to meet some of these challenges. Developing this opportunity, however, requires technology that collects meaningful data and program design that incentivizes appropriate use of that technology.
In May of 2015, the organization 50in10, an initiative to promote global collaboration on behalf of improving the state of fisheries worldwide, invited Future of Fish to study how we might improve development and adoption of mobile technology in data-poor fisheries. The work was part of a public-private partnership called mFish, which was launched at the Our Ocean's conference in June 2014 by Secretary Kerry.
mFish seeks to harness the power of mobile technology to improve fisher livelihoods and increase the sustainability of fisheries around the world. mFish was created by founding partners /tone, the US Department of State, and partner 50in10.
Future of Fish collaborated closely with 50in10 to create a pilot of mFish that would allow for the identification of behaviors and incentives that might drive more fishers to adopt novel technology. In collaboration with on-the-ground NGO Yayasan Masyarakat dan Perikanan Indonesia (MDPI), the pilot deployed 15 smartphones equipped with the /tone platform and apps to fishermen and supply chain players in Indonesia’s handline tuna fishery and outfitted five boats with a Pelagic Data Systems VMS unit to track vessel location throughout the four-week pilot. Dockside, enumerators used tablets to record catch data via a newly developed app by Point 97.
Our ethnographic fieldwork and pilot evaluation process surfaced several key findings, chief among them that the social context of relationships in the supply chain is a key factor to understanding fishermens’ motivation. Other observations about habits, relationship to risk and the day-to-day challenges for fishermen created a rich understanding of how technology might be successfully used in small scale fisheries. These findings will inform future refinement and scaling of mobile technology as global artisanal fisheries work toward real time data capture and rewards for more responsible fisheries practices.
For the detailed story and insights for future pilot development, download the full report or the executive summary from the 50in10 website. The executive summary is also available translated into Indonesian.