The recent explosion in high technology products at low cost, designed primarily for the consumer market, including satellite positioning, large data storage capacities and cellular network communication, has now opened up new possibilities for monitoring small scale fisheriess without creating a burden for the fishermen.
The need for reliable data from small scale fisheriess is recognised by a majority of stakeholders, including fishermen themselves. Monitoring the fishing activity of small scale fisheriess, through low-cost and low-burden solutions could bring several benefits to both operators and public authorities. Specifically it could:
- contribute to the assessment of the state of the stocks, the formulation of appropriate conservation measures and the assessment of their effectiveness;
- provide evidence that could help target measures to support small scale fisheriess;
- allow professional fishermen to provide the market with earlier and better information about their catches and planned time of arrival at port;
- increase the effectiveness of management of marine protected areas.
A number of countries have developed approaches to small scale fisheries monitoring based on 'light' electronic systems and are already using these systems on a trial or operational basis. In the longer term, there might be some advantages in establishing standards for the small scale fisheries monitoring systems that provide accurate estimates of the fishing activity. First, because providers would have a larger market: economies of scale would reduce costs. Second, because it would become easier to assemble information from different fleets in order to obtain a clearer picture of the fishing activity and the state of the stocks as a whole. Third, such systems could later assist developing countries in managing their stocks more effectively.