Dr. Siti Akmar Ab Rahim (UNIMAS)
Dr. Cordelia Mason (UniKL)
Would you believe me if I told you that you are more of a scientist than you think? The fact is, we’re all scientists living by the rules of scientific research our whole lives, without even knowing it!
Watch this video to find out!
Let’s explore how we can adopt the Data Science model to modernize traditional fishers.
Why do we need data of the ocean and traditional fisheries and what are we are doing here to shape up the pipeline?
Our ocean feeds us, regulates our climate, and generates most of the oxygen we breathe. However, our ocean is also facing devastating threats from overfishing, climate change, destructive human activities, and changes that we are not even aware of yet. With that said, to mitigate these issues or at least to have a better understanding of them, we need people to be at sea frequently to capture crucial and real-time data and that requires a lot of effort and costs to cover the great ocean.
In #DemiLaut, we believe that there are opportunities for fishers to earn not only from their catches but also by contributing to acquiring these sorts of data. It may be a tough goal to achieve considering how traditional fishers mostly are functionally and technologically illiterate, however, we have confidence that there are those among us who are living near these coastal communities or have families or relatives who are fishers who could help to bridge and hand-hold the fishers to learn by practice and memory. Students and youths could also develop unique experiences and skills by training and partnering with #DemiLaut to increase the productivity and efficiency of traditional fishers together.
What do we need from our traditional fishers?
The people’s positive conscience is the heartbeat of #DemiLaut.
Let’s look at it this way, the traditional fishers enjoy being out at sea. They would spend their time at sea putting food on their plate or sending their kids to school. But does it mean that they can only earn from catching fish? Traditional fishers are the bearer of the sea and fishery data. With the compilation of these data, we could explore the possibilities of understanding and monitoring the impact of overfishing and climate change. This is an important beginning that will allow us to overview how our ocean is affected by human activities and how it’s aging.
With #DemiLaut’s services and products, we would be able to capture, digitise and visualise this invaluable information and data of the sea that will hopefully allow us to mitigate these challenges one day.
So, you must be wondering where you come in…
The challenge here is in the adoption of our technology and services by traditional fishers. Most fishers are coming from a difficult place – facing poverty, having minimum access to education and infrastructures, and mainly illiterate, the fishers may find the idea of using an app to manage their operations and to further increase their productivity and efficiency a big roadblock. This may lead them to have the opinion that perhaps it is much easier to keep doing things at sea just the way they were used to, as things are already difficult enough.
So this is where you are playing a crucial role. The best means of eradicating poverty is to allow these beneficiaries to exercise liberty in decision-making regarding the use of local resources owned at the local level to reduce the overexploitation impact that they are facing. In other words, if we as one would do what we can to help the traditional fishers to make informed decisions on their practise in sustainable fishing, it would be an empowering initiative for the fishers.
Gain experiences and new skills while you’re here with us for the fishers – to ensure that the process is running smoothly, you may need to monitor and communicate with the fishers you are supervising on a daily basis. Monitor their records and identify if they are any considerations in their data that may need you to improvise, and help them to understand why it is important to help us manage the quality and transparency of data collected.
You will be actively supervising the fishers through #DemiLaut’s app, as well as contributing to the logging of data by the fishers. You will be the bridge between the fishers and the #DemiLaut team, the “Guardian of Data” if you will. However, before you are able to do that, it is important for you to engage and communicate with the fishers to have them understand the importance of this project, their data, and the fishers themselves. Ensure that both you and your fisher remain respectful to each other, work together, and all the best!
Let’s say both you and your fisher have successfully captured a good amount of data, what’s next? What can we do with the data captured?
By compiling and analysing these datasets, we create an opportunity for policymakers and fishers to fill in the gaps in data in the fisheries sector, especially in the context of timely and accurate data. The data captured in this project such as the number of fish caught, the number of species caught, fish stock, and location, would be the key to tackling overfishing, illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU), along with other destructive fishing practices.
These data captured are also vital in conducting a fish stock assessment. By having an inventory of catches, it allows us to gather information on our fishing rates (the amount of fish we catch per certain time) and possibly compare it to the understanding of reproduction rates of fish (the number of fish increased in population) at a point to allow us to identify if we are exerting pressure on overfishing. This will not only transform the lives of our traditional fishers for the better, but we will also be protecting our marine biodiversity and the health of our seas.
Last but certainly not least, the compilation of these data allows for transparency and traceability of our seafood. Imagine a “sea to plate” eatery business model, where the customers would know who, where, and when was their seafood caught: the fisher that caught the fish, the size and species of the fish, the area where the fish was caught, and the distributors of the fish. With this traceability of our seafood, we would be able to identify if our seafood is sourced legally or from an illegal poacher rooted in IUU. This model would allow customers to acknowledge and appreciate our traditional fishers, whilst curbing the demand for illegal fishing practices!