Two major problems are experiencing global fisheries: climate change, which results in fish populations shifting away from historical grounds; and feeding a nutritious supply of protein to millions of people in a sustainable way. A new age of technological progress, however, offers great opportunities for preserving our oceans, sustaining healthy fish stocks, feeding 3 billion people and preserving more than 260 million people’s livelihoods, and adapting to the impacts of climate change. Technological advances provide an opportunity to enhance fishing and seafood management practices, while encouraging fishermen and providing customers with more knowledge so that they can make more responsible decisions about seafood.
Some vessels are testing new electronic monitoring systems that automatically count and quantify halibut and other species as they are brought on board or discarded, to help comply with the Pacific halibut by catch quota and keep cod fishermen on the water. It is possible to make predictions easily, which ensures that fish spend less time outside the water, improving their survival rate. Technology will also help customers make better decisions about what they consume and the consequences of their decisions on the environment and on those involved in their development. For example, companies such as Bumble Bee Foods are able to offer information about where and where the Fair-trade tuna they eat came from to their consumers.
Bumble Bee uses a Block chain service from SAP Cloud Platform, which enables customers to track their tuna caught from boat to plate in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. This technology provides seafood companies with the ability to trace their products throughout the supply chain, according to the German software company SAP. In order to learn about the provenance of their tuna and the responsible practices produced by this fishery, consumers can then scan QR codes with their smartphones, enabling them to make better consumption decisions.
Some producers of seafood in Mexico are providing customers with more knowledge about what is on their plates. Grouper fishers encourage traceability in Yucatan through a digital platform that monitors their vessels through satellite, transmitting information about where they are and what they are catching.
In addition, technology empowers small-scale fishermen to produce knowledge not only on fisheries, but also on markets, enabling them to make informed business decisions and to demonstrate their commitment to ocean conservation. In the curvy fisheries in the Gulf of California, Mexico, for example, fishermen and authorities have access to regular catch and price information through the use of digital technology. A mobile application called Web Control Pesca is used in the Group Administrative Monitoring Software.
- The rapid growth in the use of modern information technology in most fisheries around the world (acoustic fish detection and identification, gear and vessel able to monitor, satellite-based environment monitoring and navigation, and easy inter-vessel communication) results in an increase in catching efficiency.
- Technology empowers small-scale fishermen to produce knowledge not just on fisheries, but also on markets, allowing them to prove their contribution to the protection of the oceans.