June, 2003 Rome -- An FAO-led international
partnership has launched a new Web site aimed at promoting the
use of telemetry technologies in fisheries and aquaculture
The Organization announced the
launch of the Web site at the fifth Conference on Fish Telemetry
in Europe, convened 9-13 June 2003 in Ustica, Italy.
"Telemetry is a very useful tool,"
says Gerd Marmulla, an FAO Fisheries Resource Officer and one of
the creators of the new Web site. "With this technique
you can show fish behaviour and deduce appropriate management
measures based on that data."
"The idea behind this site is to promote the
use of telemetry in fisheries and aquaculture by collecting as
much information on this technology as possible and making it as
widely available as possible," he adds.
A powerful tool for fisheries and aquaculture
The use of telemetry in
fisheries and aquaculture involves tagging individual members of
fish populations with small transmitters. These devices measure
different variables and transmit that data to listening posts.
Using biotelemetry, for instance,
researchers can measure a fish's body temperature, heart
rate or swimming speed. They can determine light intensity
experienced by fish, exact paths of travel, water temperature or
the orientation of a fish's body relative to its centre of
These and other details are
combined to develop a comprehensive picture of fish behaviour,
the state of the ecosystems they inhabit and how they react to
external stimuli -- including human activities.
FAO's Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries
states that management decisions should be based on the best
scientific evidence available. It also emphasizes that fisheries
and aquaculture management should strive to safeguard ecosystems
Telemetry is already
being used towards precisely these ends.
For example, in France, researchers have used the
technology to determine whether fish passes built to enable
natural fish migrations were working adequately, and have come
up with new pass designs when necessary.
Similarly, a number of aquaculture operations are
using biotelemetry to find out how fish adapt to rearing
environments, or to see if feeding schedules match fish activity
But while fisheries and
aquaculture managers in some countries are already using
telemetry to make fisheries more sustainable and better
integrate biodiversity concerns into management plans, the
technology has not yet caught on evenly across the globe.
In particular, FAO fisheries experts
perceived a need to foster wider use of the technology in the
developing world, where inland fisheries play a key role in
combating hunger and food insecurity. For instance, in Malawi
and Uganda consumption of fish -- mainly freshwater species
caught in inland streams and rivers -- provides over a quarter
of people's intake of animal protein.
FAO's Fisheries Department -- along with four
partners, the Global Biotelemetry Institute at the University of
British Columbia (Canada), the Institut de Recherche pour le
Développement (France), the Norwegian Institute for Nature
Research and the Université of Liège (Belgium) -- began to
develop an educational Web site aimed at encouraging technology
transfer and wider use of biotelemetry.
A one-stop shop for telemetry
The new site provides
access to a wealth of information on telemetry, collected and
posted by FAO and its partners. In the future, this store of
knowledge will continue to grow as researchers and resource
managers from around the world add to it.
"The site is a public information
forum," explains Marmulla. "If someone has a
project with telemetry as a tool, they can submit information on
the project. Others who want to develop similar projects can
then use that as a resource."
addition to reports on project methodologies, results and the
application of those results, technical papers and articles from
scientific and popular journals can also be added by the
site's users. A panel comprised of experts from the
sponsoring institutions has been set up to review all inputs.
At the same, the site gives those
considering using telemetry the ability to contact an
international network of experts with questions regarding the
best use of the technology.
this public forum an ongoing discussion regarding the use of
this technology can occur," Marmulla says.
"Questions can be asked, and answers can be
The site is only one
component of an FAO-led collaborative effort to promote the use
of telemetry in fisheries and aquaculture. Later this year the
Organization will publish a comprehensive manual detailing all
aspects of the use of telemetry in fisheries and aquaculture.
And FAO continues to help organize hands-on fish telemetry
workshops worldwide to foster technology transfer and capacity
Information Officer, FAO
(+39) 06 570