USAID Oceans Grantees Share Progress in Developing Innovative Digital Solutions for Sustainable Fisheries Management
The USAID Oceans and Fisheries Partnership (USAID Oceans) has been working to advance an ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM) in Southeast Asia since 2015. In August 2019, USAID Oceans awarded grants to two organizations to develop innovative technology solutions to support EAFM at the program’s learning sites in Bitung, Indonesia, and General Santos, the Philippines. The two recipient organizations—Masyarakat Dan Perikanan Indonesia (MDPI) and Mindanao State University (MSU) Naawan Foundation for Science and Technology Development—are developing Innovative Digital Solutions (IDS) to collect electronic catch documentation and traceability (eCDT) data, conduct real-time analysis, and inform local and national fisheries management decisions.
On November 5, 2019, USAID Oceans held a meeting to convene its EAFM Technical Advisory Group and grant recipients to discuss grantees’ progress to date. During the meeting, representatives from MDPI and MSU Nawaan presented their IDS and solicited feedback from technical advisors on next steps and additional resources needed to ensure their end products are practical and actionable in the respective learning sites.
Representatives from MDPI and MSU Nawaan shared their efforts to build, test, and deploy digital solutions that collect, analyze, and interpret real-time information from eCDT systems. One of the key points of discussion during the meeting was how eCDT data can be used to improve fisheries management and enhance marine biodiversity. For example, national fisheries management bodies can use traceability technologies to track the location of their fishers, see if they approach protected marine areas, and if so, take immediate action to redirect their route.
Grantees recognized that the path to developing traceability technologies is not always a straight one, but it reaps continual rewards.
“What you plan to do, along the way there may be adjustments to accommodate existing conditions, but as we have experienced, never give up…We’re learning quite a lot and most of this was from adjusting to current and circumstantial happenings. But we’re also learning how to innovate…and we are enjoying every moment of it.” – Dr. Asuncion B. de Guzman, MSU Nawaan
Participants stressed that it is important that solutions designed compile data are interoperable with existing eCDT systems. The IDS’s presented included data dashboards that allow managers who may be deterred by the leg-work required to analyze raw figures to easily visualize and interpret data. Participants also discussed the need for eCDT technologies to be paired with trainings to ensure managers know how to read and interpret data.
Building upon the momentum generated under the current sub-awards, USAID Oceans recently announced upcoming partnerships with two additional organizations in the Philippines: Conservation International (CI), Philippines and The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Philippines. Following the grantee presentations, CI and WWF shared their plans to continue strengthening the eCDT environment in the Philippines and the benefit their national activities will have for the Southeast Asia region.
While the digital solutions being developed by grantees will be piloted in USAID Oceans’ learning sites, they have the potential to be replicated throughout Indonesia and the Philippines and to be scaled to other Southeast Asian countries to support regional EAFM beyond the life of the USAID Oceans project.
“When we first started working with many of our regional partners, they didn’t even know what EAFM was, now it is an integral part of their fisheries management national strategies. EAFM as a concept has continued to grow both regionally and nationally.” – Dr. Robert Pomeroy, EAFM Technical Advisory Group Chair