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article imageDigital management tool to improve fishing efficiency

By Tim Sandle     Jun 10, 2018 in Environment
A new digital platform can target the most abundant fishing areas and help to reduce the catch of unwanted or protected species. The software relies on satellite data, maps and environmental observations.
Conservation of fish is an issue affecting many waters and part of the concern is due to fishing practices that have not adapted to the changing environment. One way to change such approach is through the use of digital technology.
As an example, fishing fleets tend to discard two out of every five fish they catch. The objective of the new software is to aid fishing fleets in locating the best fishing spots, in terms of productivity, and to guide fishers away from areas containing unwanted or protected species. The software can also help to avoid fishing in areas containing other oceanic species like sea turtles and dolphins.
Trials suggest that the new software is ten times more effective for protecting species than existing management practices. Current approaches, even when using computerized systems, tend to be static and do not react to real-time data. The software, which makes use of predictive analytics, is called EcoCast, and it comes from a team led by Stanford University.
The software works by drawing upon satellite data. These data include ocean conditions, notes made by fisheries observers, and species tracking data. This combines to aid fishers to select ideal fishing areas. The information is updated in real-time, allowing for a reassessment of risks as the fishing season progresses.
Commenting on the new software, the lead developer Professor Larry Crowder, who works at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station, said: “EcoCast is leading the way toward more dynamic management of marine resources…We’re putting the information directly in the hands of the fishers and managers.”
The information collected through the software will not only be of use to fisher managers. The data will aid scientists and conservationists in understanding dynamic changes to the aquatic ecosystem. Other information may also assist governments in terms of economic planning and for understanding the state of the global fishing industry.
The new software has been described in the journal Science Advances. The research paper is titled “A dynamic ocean management tool to reduce bycatch and support sustainable fisheries.”
More about Fishing, Fish, fish stocks, Management
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