Zohra Bensemra / REUTERS

World - Small-scale fishermen turn to apps and AI to tackle climate change

Digital tools allowing fishermen to share ideas and monitor catches are helping to tackle overfishing and protect livelihoods

October 31, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR, March 2 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - From weather predicting apps to using artificial intelligence to monitor the fish they catch, small-scale fishermen and coastal communities are increasingly turning to digital tools to help them be more sustainable and tackle climate change.

Overfishing and illegal fishing by commercial vessels inflict significant damage on fisheries and the environment, and take food and jobs from millions of people in coastal communities who rely on fishing, environmental groups say.

In addition, climate change affects on small-scale fishermen - who account for about 90% of the world's capture fishermen and fish workers - include fish moving to new areas in search of cooler waters or if their habitat is destroyed, rising sea levels, and an increase in the number of storms.

Launched in January by nonprofit Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the Small-Scale Fisheries Resource and Collaboration Hub (SSF Hub) is a multilingual website that aims to bring together fishermen, their communities and advocacy groups to connect, share ideas and find solutions to the problems they face.

"Small-scale fishers are already facing many challenges - from multiple marine uses, declining fish stocks, threats from over-fishing - and climate change is just going to exacerbate those challenges," said Alexis Rife, director of small-scale fisheries initiatives at EDF.

"That means that their livelihoods are at risk. It means that their food security is at risk ... it's a pretty dire situation," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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