Joseph Lee Moderator • over 2 years ago
Problem Statement 15-9: "Develop a measuring board (or other system) that could automatically measure and record fish length."
NOTE: This is a featured problem statement. Featured problem statements have been qualified for post-Fishackathon engagement by both the submitting party and by our expert panel. While all of the submitted problem statements qualify for the prizes, these have vetted for contunuation beyond the event itself.
One solution for addressing overfishing is a TURF-Reserve. A TURF-Reserve consists of two main components: (1) Territorial Use Rights for Fishing (or TURFs), in which a group of fishers is assigned secure, exclusive privileges to fish in a designated area and (2) a Marine Reserve (or Reserve), which is a designated area where no fishing or extractive activities are permitted. A well-designed and well-managed TURF-Reserve has the potential to produce a variety of biological, economic, and social benefits.
In a TURF-Reserve, catch reporting provides information for setting fisheries management controls. Catch reporting also provides indicators of the effectiveness of the TURF-Reserve in meeting fishery goals, which allows the TURF-Reserve Management Body to adapt fisheries management controls over time.
Catch reporting is a common way of collecting fishery data. It involves regular reporting of fishers’ catch and fishing activity according to a specified protocol. Reporting can be done by the fishers themselves and/or by a designated monitor. Broadly, catch reporting data can indicate what species are being caught, how much, where, when, and how, thereby allowing fishery stakeholders to assess trends in:
• The volume of harvest over time (increasing, decreasing, remaining the same).
• The size, weight, and sex of the species caught.
• The amount of fishing effort being applied.
• The catch per unit of effort (CPUE) applied.
• Other fishery characteristics, such as fishing methods and locations.
A catch reporting system relies heavily on the willingness and ability of fishers to accurately record and submit data on a regular basis. This process is not only time-consuming for fishers, but may also be challenging. Several data-limited stock assessment approaches rely on fairly straightforward data on the length-composition of the species of concern along with certain life history information. Length-composition data is gathered by measuring the individual lengths of fish that are caught in the fishery. However, handling fish can be messy. In order to measure individual fish lengths while also recording data in a logbook or computer takes at least two people, one to handle and measure the fish and one to record the data. Fishers often use a wooden board or measuring tape to measure fish length. Developing a measuring board (or other system) that could automatically measure and record fish length in a database would greatly increase efficiency of catch reporting.
The following video tells the story of La Encrucijada, Mexico. The fishing cooperatives of La Encrucijada established five fish recovery zones, or reserves. The reserves, combined with the exclusive fishing access of the cooperatives, represent the first time Rare has aided in the creation of a TURF-reserve (territorial rights in fisheries) in Mexico.
Working with fishers on a catch reporting system was an important part of engaging fishers in managing the fish recovery reserves. The fishing cooperatives were already calculating cumulative daily catch, but not for individual fish species; nor were they identifying specific fishing methods. Alejandro Arrivillaga, Rare’s monitoring manager in Latin America, visited La Encrucijada to help fishers improve their logbook system. Captivated fishers huddled around Arrivillaga’s small laptop screen.
“Usually you lose people with charts and so much mind-numbing data,” says Arrivillaga. “My main surprise was the fisher’s interest.” Arrivillaga showed them pictures of fish they catch every day and asked them to identify the species. It made fishers feel like the experts in the room. They started to make connections using the charts, for example, fish catch increases in March and April due to high demand for fish during Easter time. The fishers now keep detailed and improved logs of their catch, which benefits themselves while helping Rare and CONANP monitor and gauge conservation progress at the site.
You can view an example of the wooden boards fishers currently use to measure fish length in the 5:00 minute mark of the video. Having a board (or other system) that could automatically measure fish length when an individual (or multiple) fish were placed on it would greatly improve the efficiency of data collection and fisher participation in the catch reporting system.
Video link: https://vimeo.com/70339429
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