A number of small-scale fishermen off the Ghanaian coast of Africa have relied on fishing as their main source of income. In fact, if fish stocks were to progressively decrease, so would the livelihoods of millions of people. Unfortunately, illegal trawlers have made this a widespread possibility. Thankfully, there is a new app that will now allow local fishermen to take photos and report these illegal trawlers to the government, which can then save these small time fishermen’s sustenance and employment.
West Africa has been a rich source of small-catch fishing for many generations, those that use simple hand-net and hand-line means to do their catching. Countless families have fished for both their food and as source of income, a trade that has been around for many years to those native to the coastline. Sadly, that trade has been in jeopardy because of the commercial-scale illegal trawling operations that have been putting the numbers of the “people’s fish” species at risk.
Although there are a number of strict laws that supposedly forbid such trawlers to enter the shallower waters where both fish species live and the local fishermen catch their produce, the illegal trawling still hasn’t stopped completely. In fact, these laws are often broken with at least 37% of the yearly catch coming from illegal fishing.
That’s why this new app called Dase, which was developed by the nonprofit organization Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) is so important. The app, which is simply downloaded on one’s smartphone, gives small-catch fishermen the chance to report such illegal trawling to Ghana’s Fisheries Commission board quickly.
The EU delegation to Ghana funded the project in order to aid in the ongoing three-year process that was set up to help restore the fish stocks on Ghana’s shores. Apparently, at least 32 million people live in that area alone, which is said to be same size of Kansas. And they rely on this fish stock to survive in more ways than one.
A report was released by The Guardian that shares an actual encounter of a fisherman in a canoe within a six-mile small-catch fishermen exclusion zone that happened to see an illegal trawler within the vicinity. He was able to use his smartphone to photograph the trawler, its identity plate, and even record the boats activity, after which he sent it to directly to the government as proof.
Whatever recordings are done via the app are also sent to a database that is co-managed by the EJF in order to prevent chances of bribery as well. These files are also kept in order to build cases against those illegal fishermen, and to check whether the government is bringing the perpetrators to justice.
Since the app was released, a reported 100 small-catch fishermen have since downloaded it, mostly from the communities located on the 350-mile Ghana coastline. This will help ensure that these shores and any illegal activity will be under round-the-clock surveillance.
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