MarCoSouth Virtual Fisheries and Aquaculture service training event

The Marine and Coastal Operations Southern Africa (MarCoSouth) consortium held a virtual Fisheries and Aquaculture services training webinar for its partners and stakeholders on the 20th of October 2020. The objective of this service is to provide new co-designed decision-making facilities to promote sustainable management of marine resources, improve marine governance, and stimulate growth of the blue economy in the South and East African regions; thus providing solutions for communities, industries and government. This service aims to provide support for the fisheries sector by optimizing fishing effort, increasing the safety of fishers at sea and improving the decision making and enforcement capabilities within fisheries management, in addition to stimulating aquaculture development through the provision of siting, planning, and near real time operational support.

The webinar was opened with a general introduction and welcome from the consortium lead, Dr Stewart Bernard, from the South African National Space Agency (SANSA). This was followed by a presentation by Dr Marie Smith from the CSIR, who discussed the objectives, as well as the current and future development of the Fisheries and Aquaculture service tool and products. The presentation included an outline of the satellite products currently deployed within the web-tool, which includes morning and evening sea surface temperature, as well as phytoplankton biomass (based on Chlorophyll a concentration) and potential harmful algal blooms areas; these products are derived from the Sea and Land Surface Temperature Radiometer (SLSTR) and the Ocean and Land Colour Instrument (OLCI) sensors on board the Sentinel 3A and 3B satellites. These products are provided for African coastal EEZ regions from Angola in the west up to Kenya in the east, as well as around Mauritius. The presentation also included a live demonstration of the functionality of the web-tool.

Before October 2020 the Fisheries and Aquaculture service tool development had primarily focused on creating and selecting the most appropriate satellite products, as well as designing the processing architecture and the initial user interface. The service is currently in the user co-design phase of development, where the initial tool and products are made available to partners, stakeholders and relevant users for evaluation and feedback; this step in the development process is vitally important in order to build a positive user-experience and ensure the relevance and usefulness of the service, tools and products.

The current version of the Fisheries and Aquaculture service tool can be accessed here: https://marcosouth.org/hab/app/

Suggestions and feedback regarding the Fisheries and Aquaculture service web tool can be sent to: msmith2[at]csir.co.za

The second presentation was provided by Dr Greg Duggan from ABALOBI, an South African-based social enterprise and registered Non-Profit Organisation with a global reach. The initiative aims to empower small-scale fishers through the co-development and use of an integrated small-scale fisheries information management system and mobile app suite. The co-designed, modular nature of ABALOBI’s platforms enables customisation and use by small-scale fisheries stakeholders worldwide, and is aligned with the implementation of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation’s (FAO’s) Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries. ABALOBI’s flagship product for fishers is FISHER, an intuitive, visually driven smartphone application that enables fishers to digitally record catch logs, trip details and financial records.

The ABALOBI initiative aims to enable small-scale fishing communities to be incorporated into information and resource networks: from fishery monitoring and maritime safety, to local development and market opportunities. To this end the MarCoSOuth consortium has been working together with ABALOBI by providing small-scale fishers with near-real time satellite and sea-state forecast products. These products needed to be simple, intuitive, and informative enough to support fisher decision-making and safety, whilst not incurring unnecessary data charges to access the information. To this end, the development followed a user co-design process: the information needs were initially assessed through in-person workshops, with fishers providing insight into use cases, user requirements, dissemination methods, regions and products of interest. Building on the fishers’ user inputs, , simple information dashboards were designed and further refined through feedback via regional fishing community WhatsApp groups. To keep data sizes small, these dashboards have been developed for dissemination via WhatsApp in the form of two image files, sent out three times a week.  Development is currently underway to integrate the daily regional SST, Chlorophyll a, tides and sea-state information into the ABALOBI FISHER app in the very near future.

For more information about ABALOBI please visit: http://abalobi.org/

Or Dr Greg Duggan at greg.duggan[at]abalobi.org

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