International Symposium on Fisheries Sustainability

Session 7

Fisheries Information systems and new technologies

FAO session lead: Marc Taconet

Speakers and panelists

Webcast link

Key messages

Capture fisheries cannot be managed sustainably without a decision-making process based on the best available scientific evidence. This implies functional, effective and fit-for-purpose Fisheries Information Systems, capable of evolving with needs.

The UN Sustainable Development Goals, in particular, require improvements in the scope quality and granularity of many processes associated with fisheries, from the sustainability status of fish stocks, the efforts to deter and eliminate IUU fishing, the role of sustainable fisheries for national economies, the access of small scale fisheries to resources and market. In addition, the impacts of climate change will increasingly require timely corrective and adaptive actions that rely on close-to-real-time monitoring systems and risk management processes.

Furthermore, fisheries management processes need to be better integrated with the increasingly complex societal challenges facing aquatic systems: increased demand for marine resources, competition for space across sectors, changing consumer preferences in terms of traceability and eco-labelling demands. As a result, the requirements for and uses of data evolve.

The need to improve fishery data and statistics in the context of this changing landscape has been clearly outlined in FAO's State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (FAO, 2018). However, the Fisheries sector generally remains a late adopter of information system technologies, often characterized by very low and basic capacities in many developing countries. On one hand, national level data, often scattered, not properly curated and inaccessible to most, must be improved and better utilized. On the other, innovation in information technologies (e.g. earth observation, ocean and marine life tracking devices, cross-disciplinary science and big data, blockchain technologies or social media) presents us with new opportunities that have the potential to change the way we generate, interpret and communicate fisheries sustainability issues.
This session has two objectives. First, we will seek to outline the effectiveness of current fisheries information systems and issues faced as witnessed on the ground, from coastal communities and developing states. We will look at their perspectives on whether the new, yet proven technologies that may be applied in marine and inland fisheries operations can improve the current information systems.

Second, we will develop a roadmap into the future by identifying the challenges and opportunities that new and emerging technologies may offer, and whether the diversity of information technologies hold potential to match needs.

The session will answer questions such as:

  • What are the most frequently encountered weaknesses in current data systems and what are technical, financial, societal and political hurdles to overcome fill these gaps?
  • How do new data and information technologies build on incremental improvements in current data systems in ways that do not disrupt existing management processes?
  • Are new technologies able to represent each fisheries sub-sector, and in particular small-scale, subsistence and recreational fisheries properly? Do they enable and facilitate the involvement of all stakeholders in fisheries policy and management decisions at all levels?
  • How can the expectations of ecosystem-based and adaptive management in the face of uncertainty and changing climate (Session 6) be advanced by the availability of "big data" and Artificial Intelligence?
  • Can we see transformational changes coming as a result of new data and information technologies? In particular in terms of providing analytical tools to deal with complex environmental, economic, and social challenges?

The session will also consider the implications of growing calls for data to become a public commodity in just a few years. These implications include how to integrate data sources and analytical services to support decision processes and open science, and the likely challenges countries and organizations would have to face along this path. Lastly we will introduce and discuss a global vision for fisheries information systems that is proactive, innovative and fit to meet future needs. We will discuss emerging technologies, which we see disruptive but perhaps vital to the sustainability and conversation objectives facing fisheries, including internet of things and blockchain technologies along the fisheries value chain.

Across the session we will seek to draw not only the major actions necessary, but also the roles that various organizations and stakeholders should play to ensure data and information systems are used effectively for sustainable fisheries.

The outcomes of this session will support:

SDG 1 – Reduce poverty
SDG 2 – Food security
SDG 8 – Economic growth
SDG 9 – Technology and innovation
SDG 13 – Climate Change
SDG targets 14.2, 14.4, 14.5, 14.6 14.7. 14.B & 14.A
SIDS Samoa Pathways
UNFCC Paris Agreement
FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries