New Electronic System Allows Commercial Fishers to ‘Do the Right Thing’Newsroom
The facts are frightening, to say the least. In 2014, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) declared that “90% of the world’s fisheries are either fully exploited, over exploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion.”
According to the FAO, fish consumption has grown from approximately 38 million tonnes in 1960 to 137 million tonnes in 2003, an increase of 260 percent, and demand is expected to rise by another 50 million tonnes in the next 10 years.
Now, technology is offering a way to help combat overfishing caused by illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing—by asking commercial fishing companies to “come clean,” as it were. WWF and navama, the environmental technology innovators based in Germany, introduced TransparentSea (www.transparentsea.org), a tracking tool and data sharing platform that allows fisheries all over the world to voluntarily register with the system, and make their fishing activities “transparent.”
“Fisheries which cooperate with us can show their customers that they are committed to legal and responsible fishing,” said Alfred Schumm, WWF’s Smart Fishing Initiative (SFI) Leader, in a WWF press statement. SFI, the global fisheries programme of WWF, is meeting the challenge of global overfishing head-on and working to mitigate the potential “ecological disaster” of collapsed worldwide tuna fisheries by advocating good governance, supporting sustainable markets, and encouraging responsible investment.
“Transparency in fishing operations means that you have full disclosure and traceability of fish harvested in a fishery, so that you can properly manage the removals from that fishery,” explains Alfred “Bubba” Cook, Western and Central Pacific Tuna Programme Manager for WWF’s Smart Fishing Initiative.
“Traceability systems such as the WWF-navama tracking tool help those fishers who employ such tools on their vessels to demonstrate to the markets, governments, fisheries managers, scientists, and consumers that they are fishing responsibly,” says Jackie Thomas, Leader of the WWF Coral Triangle Programme.
The good news is, more companies are finally seeing the bigger picture, too. In 2013, Sea Quest Fiji Ltd., a tuna fishing company in the South Pacific that exports to the US, Japan, and growing markets in the European Union, New Zealand, and Australia, partnered with WWF to establish a transparent fishing system, starting with eight Automatic Identification System (AIS) transmitters installed on their boats.
In committing to such transparency in fishing, companies can prove that “they have nothing to hide,” Cook says. A more discriminating market will also know exactly what they’re getting. “Buyers, and ultimately, consumers can have confidence in the fish they purchase, that it is not harvested illegally.”
Transparency and traceability are particularly important in the Western Central Pacific (WCP), with its vast areas of ocean that needs to be monitored. “In the WCP, billions of dollars in potential revenues for Pacific Islands countries are lost each year due to IUU fishing,” Thomas says. “These technologies not only make fully monitoring fisheries over such a large area possible, but also practical and achievable,” Cook confirms.
As navama’s Dr. Andreas Struck said in a press statement, “A route tracking on every consumer mobile for each sold fish all around the globe is our vision for the future.”
(For the full story, go to WWF-Global)