Integrating a mobile accessible electronic system into dockside monitoring: How can small-scale fisheries data collection programs transition from paper-based to digital data collection?
MetadataShow full item record
Lack of reliable, high quality fishing activity data has undermined efforts to monitor marine fisheries efficiently. Further, there are many barriers to capturing this data including inefficient paper processes, lack of trust or incentives to encourage participation, few sources to verify data, and a landscape of information silos. One way to overcome these barriers is to improve fisheries data capture using technology. This project sought to better understand how small-scale dockside fisheries monitoring programs can transition from paper-based methods to digital data collection using a smartphone app. Market-testing of the app using surveys and interviews revealed that a typical NGO fisheries data collection program operates 7 field sites, is paper-based, collects data using dockside monitors, experiences an average time lag of 5 weeks from data recording to usability, and costs an average of $99,000 annually. These NGOs prioritize ‘sustainable management of local resources’ as their most important organizational goal, rank ‘species type’ as the most valuable type of data collected, and rank ‘building local capacity’ as the most significant issue of concern related to fisheries data collection. Because the success of an electronic reporting program will hinge on the ability of these technology tools to provide clear and tangible benefits to fisheries, the app was then field-tested in a small-scale Indonesian tuna fishery as part of a pilot study. Specifically, I compared paper-based data collection methods to the app according to predetermined metrics of success (timeliness and availability; data collection cost) at 2 field sites. When using the app, data collectors tended to lose time at one site (34% increase in time) and save time at the other (53% decrease in time). This difference among sites was likely due to variations in patterns of catch landing, internet connectivity, and employee adoption rate. Total cost (including equipment and labor costs) was projected to increase by an average of 20% per field sampling site when using the app. Time and cost metric data were then used to generate a cost-benefit analysis, which revealed that implementing this app at all field sites would result in a 12% increase in total cost during the first year, followed by a 13% cost decrease in subsequent years. Over a 5-year horizon, using the app at all field sites was projected to decrease overall cost of data collection by 8%. Specifically, high initial equipment costs would be balanced by a decrease in labor cost in the medium to long term. Ultimately, the incentive to transition to electronic monitoring in a particular fishery is highly dependent on the data needs of that fishery and the management goals of the organization as well as the strength of time preference (i.e. willingness to wait for future returns), and I hope lessons learned from this case study will provide other organizations with valuable insight as they contemplate similar transitions.
- Marine affairs