USAID Oceans made leaps forward this month in establishing full-chain seafood traceability with the installation of technology to bring small-scale fishers online in the Philippines. With partner, the Futuristic Aviation and Marine Enterprises (FAME), USAID Oceans installed 30 small-scale vessel transponders with “First Mover” fisherfolk and five connection gateways that bring connectivity to remote and at-sea areas surrounding the program’s General Santos City learning site. The technology enables fishers to capture data on their catch and tag each fish so that required data follows the fish on its journey to export. With the transponders, vessels are not only be able to transmit catch documentation and traceability data at-sea, but fishers can also communicate more easily with business partners and family members on shore. Check out the snapshots below for a glimpse at how the technology works and is supporting fishers in the Philippines.
USAID Oceans’ First Mover partners test the vessel transponder’s location tracking functionalities at sea. With the transponders that enable and enhance at-sea connectivity for small-scale fishers, vessel location is monitored and pinged to onshore system users every 15 minutes. This functionality greatly enhances fisher safety and security.
Fishers can enter traceability data and communicate back to shore via mobile applications available on program-sponsored tablets. USAID Oceans and partner, FAME, have worked together to design a custom application for the small-scale fishers that enables them to collect required data on the seafood they catch and also provides them with a messaging application for ship-to-shore communication.
The FAME system makes use of NFC cards that store and transmit the seafood traceability data. With the NFC card, fishermen can easily report the location, date, and time that the seafood was caught, as well as their fishing vessel registration and fishing license information. Here, a fisherman uses the transponder card reader-writer which automatically uploads the information to a central database.
The traceability data stored on the NFC card accompanies the seafood through its journey in the port. For larger fish, like tuna or marlin, fishers attach the NFC card to the fish tail for tagging. For smaller fish, the card can be placed in the basket or unloading container.
Once landed, the card is tapped again to read the data and additional data can be added. These cards reduce the burden of manual data entry for small-scale fishers and buyers on shore.
This August, thirty fishers received and will begin testing the newly installed technology in the waters off of three fisheries-driven municipalities along the southern coast of Mindanao island, Glan, Kiama, and Maasim. These First Mover fishers were recruited in collaboration with local government units and with the assistance of the Mindanao Association of Tuna Handliners.
USAID Oceans and FAME are working together to explore how this technology can benefit other fishers throughout Southeast Asia and provide support to data-driven sustainable fisheries management. In addition to improving catch reporting, USAID Oceans strives to use FAME technology and the data collected to enhance sustainable fisheries management plans and improve fisher safety and livelihoods.