Dr. Siti Akmar Abdul Rahim (UniMAS)
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?
Our oceans feed us, regulate our climate, and generate most of the oxygen we breathe. However, our oceans are also facing devastating threats from overfishing, climate change, destructive human activities and more. With that said, to mitigate these issues, we need people to be at sea frequently to capture crucial and real-time data. This is where our fishers come in. Fishers are out at sea almost every day, interacting with the sea and its biodiversity for years. When traditional fishers are out at sea, they get to witness the richness (or lack thereof) of the fish population and diversity, the character of the sea, and the changes of the sea over time. If we are able to capture these information daily, we would be able to turn the experiences of the fishers into data that we can utilise to improve the condition of our seas.
What do we need from our traditional fishers?
The traditional fishers are the heartbeat of #DemiLaut. Why?
Mainly, the traditional fishers enjoy being out at sea. They would spend their time out at sea to put food on their plate. But does it mean that they can only earn from catching fishes? Traditional fishers are the bearer of 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 have an overview of 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 these 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…
Well, you are tasked with a very important role. 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 them. You are now a team with your fisher. The fishers will need your tech assistance and guidance, and you will need to monitor their commitment and data collection through the app. 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!