Editorial: connecting the dots in fisheries
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CTA. 2004. Editorial: connecting the dots in fisheries. ICT Update Issue 16. CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands
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Are ICTs in the fisheries sector benefiting ACP countries? Recent studies paint an ambiguous picture. While ICTs offer cost-effective mean
Are ICTs in the fisheries sector benefiting ACP countries? Recent studies paint an ambiguous picture. While ICTs offer cost-effective means to discover new fishing grounds, monitor environmental impacts and combat illegal fishing activities, they are also accelerating the decline of fish populations, in that they enable commercial fishing vessels to exploit stocks in areas once considered too difficult to fish. What´s more, big fish eat little fish - developed countries clearly have an advantage over ACP nations in that they are applying ICTs in the fisheries sector, and are threatening the livelihoods of local fishermen. At the heart of the problem is the failure of policymakers to connect the dots between international and national regulations and their effects on regional and local fisheries. The lack of transparency has prevented collaborative efforts between different administrative levels to improve their fisheries management framework, and has frustrated attempts to take full advantage of ICTs. Yet, spurred by successful initiatives by scientists and NGOs, governing bodies are increasingly recognizing the value - even the necessity - of integrated, ICT-supported approaches to fisheries management. This issue of ICT Update highlights some recent initiatives that effectively address the interests of all stakeholders. The EU, under the new Common Fisheries Policy, is entering into http://ictupdate.cta.int/index.php/article/articleview/282/ fisheries partnership agreements with ACP countries, with targeted actions to support the implementation of monitoring, inspection and surveillance networks. In the South Pacific, the 17 island members of the Forum Fisheries Agency are collaborating in the operation of a http://ictupdate.cta.int/index.php/article/articleview/277/ satellite-based vessel monitoring system (VMS) to identify illegal fishing vessels. As Andrew Richards explains, the system is benefiting local fishermen and the region´s tuna industry. From Guinea in West Africa, Peter Lowrey reports that local fishermen have formed http://ictupdate.cta.int/index.php/article/articleview/278/ "community patrols and are working with coastguard services to deter illegal trawlers. Armed with hand-held GPS receivers, the fishermen can calculate the location of poachers, and radio the information to the nearest coastguard. The approach has proven so effective that it is now being adopted elsewhere in West Africa. ICTs are also being used in research initiatives aimed at improving the management of entire ecosystems. In South Africa´s http://ictupdate.cta.int/index.php/article/articleview/279/ Great Fish River estuary, for example, acoustic telemetry is being used to monitor two fish species that are targeted by both subsistence and recreational fishermen. Margot Collett describes how the findings will be used in the design of conservation strategies to ensure the sustainability of the estuary´s fisheries. Halfway across the continent, Dr William Kudoja reports on the EU-funded http://ictupdate.cta.int/index.php/article/articleview/280/ Lake Victoria Fisheries Research Projec, which is using sonar technology to assess the quantities of fish in the lake. With such data, the authorities can set catch quotas and, eventually, harmonize national measures for the equitable utilization of the lake´s resources. Finally, Venu Pidachy explains how ICTs are being integrated into commercial http://ictupdate.cta.int/index.php/article/articleview/284/ post-harvest activities in Uganda, to ensure that exported fish products comply with the EU´s food safety and quality regulations. It is clear that more comprehensive strategies to manage global fish resources are urgently needed. These initiatives demonstrate that ICTs can play a vital role both in informing policy and in implementing such strategies.
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