Save our fish

Save our fish Fishing boats at the dock in Kema.

Overfishing is an acknowledged major problem in Indonesia’s waters. The country’s fisheries minister, Susi Pudjiastuti, regularly brings public attention to the issue by ordering the sinking of foreign vessels caught fishing illegally in Indonesian waters. Although no one is really certain how many fish are actually being caught – both legally and illegally – an important first step is managing the problem. I had a firsthand look at the problem and a potential solution while working in North Sulawesi and East Java provinces with The Nature Conservancy, whose scientists have come up with a way to measure at least some of the catches. Small satellite devices record the location of boats as fish are brought in. The fish are then photographed and measured on a simple plastic board. Researchers later collect the images from the fishermen’s cameras to identify species, and use the satellite data from the boat to locate where the specific fish were caught. The technology has the potential to not only provide data on the number of fish being caught, but also to track specific shipments of fish, leading to greater transparency and hopefully a market for sustainably caught fish.

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