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Information and communications technologies in the fisheries sector

Digital and other electronic technologies are transforming our economies, societies and people’s lives. Technology has had an especially profound impact on the information and communications activities that have always been central to sustainable development. Information and communications technologies (ICTs) refers to technologies that facilitate communication and the processing of information by electronic means and includes everything from radio and television to telephones (fixed and mobile), computers and the Internet.

In fisheries, new ICTs are being used across the sector, from resource assessment, capture or culture to processing and commercialization. Some are specialist applications such as sonar for locating fish. Others are general purpose applications such as Global Positioning Systems (GPS) used for navigation and location finding, mobile phones for trading, information exchange and emergencies, radio programming with fishing communities and Web-based information and networking resources. A wide range of technologies can be adapted and introduced in all but the most remote communities and once appropriated by users, can have positive impacts on their lives.

ICT for development

The uses of ICT for development go beyond direct support for income-generating activities.  ICT for pro-poor development can be a powerful means of reducing people’s vulnerability, of fostering equity and social inclusion and in mobilising communities to take charge of their own development. In conjunction with traditional communications activities such as meetings and theatre, community radio, video/television, mobile phones, telecentres and print publications can be used to share information, especially marketing information (checking fish prices), and knowledge, as well as raise awareness and stimulate discussion of issues such as gender, health, education, local development and diversification of income-generation. ICTs (particularly mobile phones and the Internet/telecentres) also have an important role to play in connecting migrants with their home communities.

Information sharing – a fundamental need

Food and livelihoods security issues and the lack of extension support for fishers and fish farmers can be addressed through information networks. New opportunities can emerge from combining mobile and newer networking technologies.

Programmes and policies supporting further development of ICTs in fishing communities and across the sector more broadly must link effectively between relevant stakeholders from local to international, levels, be designed to cater truly for the needs of the poor and lead towards more responsible fisheries.

Information and communications technologies are a fundamental development tool to support information sharing, collaboration and dialogue leading to increased participation and ownership.

 
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