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World - Smart Cameras Can Play a Fundamental Role in Sustaining Small-Scale Fisheries

Small-scale fisheries are much bigger than you may have thought.

They are fundamental to the food security, nutrition and economic well-being of hundreds of millions of people worldwide (the FAO estimates that 200 million people worldwide rely on small-scale fisheries for some part of their livelihood). Small-scale does not equal small catch. Globally, small-scale fisheries contribute about the same amount of food as larger fisheries — and they are becoming more significant. Most small-scale fishermen are located in the tropics, where climate change is set to have the most serious impacts on fish populations, so making sure tropical fisheries are managed effectively to ensure fish populations are as healthy as possible is becoming more urgent. Yet, a lack of fisheries management is compromising the sustainability of these critically important fisheries. This is why EDF is working with the Indonesian government and local stakeholders to improve the way small-scale fisheries are managed.

What most small-scale fisheries lack is data for management: what, where, when and how much is caught. Because the tools and resources for gathering that data have often been lacking, managing these fisheries is hard, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. In fact, new tools we need to help make small-scale fisheries management widespread and effective are fast becoming a reality — thanks to recent exponential advances in digital technologies.

The key to fisheries management is information — and one of the most important pieces of information is how much is being caught. Easy, right? In the United States and other developed countries, licenses are obtained, logbooks are filled out, and, in some fisheries, cameras and humans monitor catch onboard. But these tools don’t work everywhere, including in most small-scale fisheries.

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