MANILA, Philippines – “Abundant data on fisheries is necessary for science-based decision making. We’re a country whose way of life is largely dependent on the sea. We need information about our marine resources and usage and access to effectively craft and implement policies that will protect our vastly threatened marine environment,” said lawyer Gloria Estenzo Ramos, Vice President for Oceana Philippines.
She added: “The introduction of a fish landing application becomes highly relevant and much welcome in data-deficient Philippines, which has recently adopted the vessel monitoring system to track behavior of commercial fishing vesels under RA 10654, the amendatory law to the Fisheries Code.”
Marine scientist Dr. Stephen Box, who presented the app in an online conference, explained: “The wealth of data which will be collected using these tools will greatly contribute to data analysis, and can be a primary basis for any plans related to fisheries management and sustainability.”
Dr. Box is the Program Coordinator of the Integrated Marine Planning and Conservation Tools of the Smithsonian Marine Station, and is one of the main developers of the mobile app.
The application comes in a tool package worth $80, and includes fisherfolk registry as well as vessel monitoring.
The mobile app was designed for Android devices and can be used by fish buyers and organizations working on fisheries issues. It enables them to obtain data such as the type and size of fish species caught, frequented fishing grounds, and the profile of fishers.
The Fish Landing app was presented during the 13th annual FishBase Symposium last September 4. The event was held at the International Rice Research Institute in Los Baños. The presentation was organized in partnership with Oceana and FishBase Information and Research Group, Inc. (FIN), a non-government organization that provides free and accessible key data on all aquatic organisms of the world through the FishBase website.
Keeping track of fishers and boats
Box also presented two other technologies for fisheries management at the conference: the fisher registry system and boat tracking device.
The fisher registry is an online registration system that records the profile of fishers, allowing governments to track their fisherfolk population, Box said. The system was piloted in Honduras in 2013, replacing their paper registration process.
The portable boat tracking device, on the other hand, collects data on vessel position and fishing activities. In the Philippines, this would be useful in the vessel monitoring requirement under the recently amended Fisheries Code, especially for commercial fishing vessels.
Dr. Box said all three tools can provide analytics and visual tools such as graphs, so the information is understandable and can be readily shared. (Graphic courtesy of Dr. Box)
“This tool can eventually generate data capital, so analysis of our data would be more in-depth,” said internationally renowned scientist Dr. Daniel Pauly, FIN co-founder and Oceana board member.
In a separate round-table discussion with media and NGOs, Pauly emphasized that data deficiency in Philippine fisheries is not necessarily due to the absence of information, but the lack of analysis on available data.
“In the Philippines, we have an abundance of species data, but it has not been analyzed,” Pauly said.
Pauly noted that analysis of fisheries data needs to focus on conservation, and must be integrated in drafting policies and management plans.
Dr. Ma. Lourdes Palomares, Associate Scientific Director of FIN, and also the Project Coordinator of SeaLifeBase, said local knowledge should also be utilized in gathering fisheries data at the grassroots level.