USAID Oceans pitches challenge for traceability data validity, verifiability in Make for the Planet Challenge
The USAID Oceans and Fisheries Partnership (USAID Oceans) participated in the Make for the Planet Competition, organized by Conservation X Labs, held from June 24 -28, 2018, at the International Marine Conservation Congress in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia.
The multi-day Make for the Planet competition invites conservation experts to pitch challenges to teams of inventors with various areas of expertise to create solutions for global biological conservation. The challenge offers participating teams opportunities to connect with professionals, experts and potential partners to develop their ideas beyond the competition. At the challenge, USAID Oceans pitched a marine conservation and traceability challenge to competing teams, one that is core to traceability initiatives around the globe.
With global fish stocks under siege due to environmental and commercial stressors, the world’s oceans are in serious danger and call for large-scale improvements to fisheries management. USAID Oceans is answering that call by supporting the development of electronic catch documentation and traceability (eCDT) systems with government and private sector partners across Southeast Asia. However, while eCDT holds numerous benefits for fisheries, ensuring the validity of its data collection is still a significant challenge.
For eCDT to be an effective way of combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices, private sector industry members, fisherfolk and governments are required to accurately contribute to robust eCDT databases. However, as with any data set, data usefulness is dependent upon its accuracy, validity, and verifiability. Data validity is a large challenge, as recent reports have shown that one in five seafood samples are mislabeled worldwide (Oceana, 2016); and in one case, 82% of samples tested were mislabeled and half of the substituted fish were species considered as threatened with extinction (IUCN). While demand is high for valid catch data, industry incentives for capturing and sharing accurate data lag greatly behind.
USAID Oceans asked competing teams to present a solution to this challenge—asking teams to present a solution that will transform eCDT. What combination of technology and market-driven incentives can best facilitate both government and private sector actors to accurately contribute to robust catch documentation and traceability databases?
USAID Oceans presented their challenge, “Transforming Traceability: Incentivizing catch documentation for global fisheries stability,” to 15 participating teams of inventors. Three teams selected the USAID Oceans’ challenge and presented the following solutions:
Team Harapan from Malaysia initiated an e-marketplace access, which allows all fisheries, including small scale, to enter their catch documentation into a government/industry driven system. The main objective is to facilitate validation process and encourage credible and cost effective trade between fisheries and buyers.
Team “4 Flyers” from Singapore, focused on developing an Internet of Things (IoT) cloud-based system for onboard equipment such as scales, ID cameras and a GPS system. This system could enhance validation and effectiveness of data collection for both buyers and governments.
Big Beyond, another team from Malaysia, created a prototype of a mobile app that profiles and ranks each fisherman based on their quality of catch reporting. The app aims to provide key information for buyers and governments allowing them to select suppliers with the best guarantees in sustainable fishing and offer these fishers specific rewards.
Beyond the innovative solutions and constructive contributions to the challenge, the discussion between teams and USAID Oceans mentor, Mr. Marc Olivier-Roux, touched upon the roles of fishermen in being a “potential agent of change” in the process of data traceability. Not only can fishers contribute to sustainable fisheries through their individual participation, but they also have valuable monitoring and reporting potential for valuable information such as illegal fishing activities, presence of species and pollution found in their daily life at sea. Learn more about the solutions pitched.
USAID Oceans mentors student teams working to design their challenge pitch. Photo: USAID Oceans/M. Olivier-Roux