Gathering accurate information about the different species of fish and seafood that communities in Pacific nations rely upon has been a challenge for many years.
For the past three years, the community-based fisheries management (CBFM) unit at Vanuatu
Fisheries Department (VFD) has been trialling a catch monitoring survey protocol in 5 communities
across Malampa, Shefa, Sanma and Tafea provinces. These surveys were done on paper format to
capture data on fish caught by men and women fishers in communities. Starting from this year, VFD
is advancing this to a digital format of monitoring.
“Identification and measurement of a fish were done manually, however, this new protocol has been
digitised to cater for providing real time data,” VFD’s Community-Based Fisheries Management Data
Coordinator, Abel Sami said.
This year VFD has been working together with the South Pacific Community (SPC) and the University
of Wollongong through the Australian government funded Pathways project. This collaboration is
improving ways to survey community fisheries and return that information to the communities so
that they can assess and adjust the way they management their fisheries.
“This new catch monitoring tool uses a digital tablets to take photos and collect information on
community catches. Each fish that is photographed using the tablet, is uploaded and then
automatically identified and measured by an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system coordinated through
the SPC,” Sami said.
There is great interest in integrating the digital catch monitoring tool into VFD operations, and the
VFD Research Unit is co-funding catch monitoring operations alongside the CBFM unit.
“The output of these surveys will help further understand community-fisheries and showcases
species of importance that these communities rely on daily. Hence, the monitoring system will aid
VFD to understand performance of coastal resources at community level, area council level and
provincial level and feed into national policy,” said Pita Neihapi, CBFM unit leader.
From the 9 th to the 11 th of August, a total of 18 data collectors, made up of 7 community
representatives and 12 VFD observers, were trained on how to use this monitoring tool.
They will be deployed for two weeks from 14th of August to conduct the first ever trials of this new
As part of the training, the team visited Takara community to trial out the new tool, drawing much
Monitoring Community Based Fisheries Management goes digital
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