ECOFISH, regional programme supported by Incatema, is introducing technological innovation for traditional fisheries in the Indian Ocean to ensure sustainability

4 May, 2022

EU-funded programme ECOFISH, where Incatema provides technical assistance, is implementing innovative technological solutions to further professionalize artisanal fisheries and improve its sustainability. This intervention takes place in Mauritius and Rodrigues islands, in the Indian Ocean, where fishers still use traditional crafts and target overfished demersal lagoons. Besides, a reduced biodiversity in said lagoons makes it more difficult for traditional fishers to maintain their livelihood; therefore, it is urgent to guarantee the possibility to explore new fishing grounds in high seas.

ECOFISH programme is facilitating the purchase and installation of smart fish aggregation devices (FAD) to replace the traditional ones. FAD are floating structures anchored to the seabed in high seas. They provide shelter for small fish that, in turn, attract predators from larger species such as tuna or sailfish. The average catch in a FAD is of about 35 kg as compared to 5-6 kg in demersal lagoons.

The new smart FAD, funded by ECOFISH, will be equipped with a satellite buoy fed by solar energy, with integrated GPS, sensors and echosounder to estimate biomass. They will count as well on microprocessors to collect, analyse and treat raw data, so fishers can receive filtered and precise information.

In the frame of the programme, a complementary app is being developed for smartphones to allow fishers direct access to information collected by smart FAD. A training programme will also be implemented for fishers on how to use FAD, GPS tracking and reading biomass information. Such program will be complemented by awareness raising campaigns on good fishing practice, focusing on youth and women.

As claimed by Ana Romero, Head of Consultancy and Technical Assistance at Incatema Consulting & Engineering, “the only future for traditional fishers’ communities is to adopt new technologies and easy digital solutions that make fisheries more sustainable and productive. In a moment where fisheries resources are lowering, technology is a key to better manage fisheries and ensure sustainability and resilience”.

Fish aggregation devices will also allow to fight illegal fisheries

ECOFISH has the aim to support fisheries in Eastern Africa, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean to achieve sustainable management and improve their contribution to the blue economy, as explained here. Specifically, this action in Mauritius is implemented by UNDP with a grant awarded under a call for proposals the programme result 3, an initiative that seeks allowing traditional fishers to operate around the new smart FAD. Likewise, said UNDP action seeks the use of improved landing sites to improve postharvest results.

As for the technologies onboard the said smart FAD, they can be a key to improve follow up of fishing vessels in the Indian Ocean to help fight illegal fisheries, that represents around 15% of total catch worldwide, provoking losses of about 24,000 million euros every year.