Information and communication technologies for small-scale fisheries (ICT4SSF) - A handbook for fisheries stakeholders
- The aim of this report is to present evidence for how information and communication technologies for small-scale fisheries (ICT4SSF) might enable and support the implementation of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF Guidelines). We present case studies of ICT4SSF initiatives in different use areas to identify key themes and reflect on successes and failures. This document begins with a review of documented ICT4SSF initiatives, in Chapter 1, and to what extent they interact with the key elements of Part 2 of the SSF Guidelines. The following six case studies then dive into specific examples from around the world to detail their individual development processes and to evaluate the successes, failures and key lessons. Chapter 2 describes the development of a near real-time digital monitoring system for small-scale fisheries in Timor-Leste. Chapter 3 reviews formal and informal use of ICTs and capacity development in South India. Chapter 4 summarizes lessons of how mobile technology in value chains can drive gender equity in the Philippines. Chapter 5 describes the successes and failures of a digital market information service in East Africa. Chapter 6 explores the mechanisms through which fishers can engage with ICTs in the Caribbean toward improved safety at sea. Chapter 7 presents how digital technology and mobile money can enable alternative livelihoods for fishers in remote Bangladesh. In the Discussion and conclusions section, findings from the case studies are mapped back to Part 3 of the SSF Guidelines to provide a more systematic summary of the opportunities, risks and gaps in how information and communication technologies (ICTs) can enable the implementation of the SSF Guidelines. The guiding principles of the SSF Guidelines are based on international standards of human rights, as well as responsible fisheries and sustainable development practices, with particular attention to vulnerable and marginalized groups. Globally, the most vulnerable and marginalized people tend to be the least represented in digital data because even simple social networks require some level of literacy and a smartphone, which in turn relies on connectivity and power. These prerequisites exclude certain segments of the population in developing countries such as small-scale fishers and fish workers, who often operate in isolated and informal markets where infrastructure is weak. ICTs are often seen as a way for developing countries, including vulnerable and marginalized groups, to hurdle traditional development processes in order to access the new digital economy. However, the investments and policies required to bridge the digital divide (inequalities in access to digital information and services and their associated benefits) are similar to traditional development processes, such as improving education and infrastructure. There are few baselines against which to compare fisher well-being and access before and after ICT initiatives, and this gap is an important finding in this report. So far, success has only been assessed qualitatively and relatively, in terms of uptake, sustainability and local legitimacy. Still, some ICT4SSF initiatives presented in this document are closely aligned with the Principles for Digital Development and the objectives of the SSF Guidelines. These initiatives highlighted that when ICTs are locally led or developed, or co-designed with end users and marginalized groups, or have strengthened already existing networks and technologies, the potential for positive impact is much higher. However, there is much less evidence of proactive confrontation of inequality through data ownership. Furthermore, there are few examples of developing mechanisms for fishers and fish workers to hold, access or own their data, and few legal mechanisms to recognize their ownership or protect them against misuse or manipulation. XVI There is little doubt that ICTs hold potential to improve the lives of small-scale fisheries actors. But to bridge the digital divide, ICT4SSF development must be ethical and transparent and be orientated specifically to meeting the needs of the poor and marginalized. For example, in fisheries monitoring systems, co-generated and co-owned data foster transparency and accountability, and they enable small-scale fisheries actors to have an active role in decisions in resource governance. However, given the varying accessibility to information between sexes, individuals, groups, communities or businesses, ICT development must be mindful of how to add value for small-scale fisheries actors. If not, they could merely be contributing to widening the divide between rich and poor or the powerful and the exploited. From our review, ICT4SSF to date have most commonly been applied in a traditional top-down approach to resource governance (Chapter 2), to monitor who is fishing and when, where and how much they catch. Thus far, ICT4SSF initiatives have followed the tendency for fisheries monitoring (1) to be extractive, with few mechanisms in place for information to flow both ways, (2) to be co-generated, and (3) to have few regulations in place to protect individuals’ data privacy. There is great potential for digital technologies to enable transparent and equitable information systems that pave the way for responsible governance of tenure. For example to “establish networks and platforms for the exchange of experiences and information and to facilitate their involvement in policy- and decision-making processes relevant to small-scale fishing communities” (SSF Guidelines 10.6), these systems should include gender-disaggregated “bioecological, social, cultural and economic data relevant for decision-making on sustainable management of small-scale fisheries” (SSF Guidelines 11.1). There are few examples available of ICT4SSF initiatives that directly target gender equality outcomes, poverty reduction, fisher welfare and equal rights, but these can be meaningfully addressed if ICT development is strategically planned and best practices are followed (Chapter 4). Also, the factors that underpin uptake and sustainability of ICT4SSF initiatives, such as trust, legitimacy, digital literacy and privacy, remain largely unexplored. Without insight into these aspects, stakeholders planning to use ICT4SSF in their activities are vulnerable to unintended and unfavorable outcomes. There is an urgent need to support ICT development with policies that ensure equitable accessibility and distribution of the benefits of digital inclusion. The SSF Guidelines are for all stakeholders in aquatic systems, from governments and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to fishers and fishworkers (SSF Guidelines 2.3). Initial successes of contextualizing “first world” technology into developing world settings have relied on partnerships. Fostering collaboration between data scientists, governments, NGOs and smallscale fisheries actors is more likely to ensure that ICTs are appropriate for the key hardships and constraints unique to each local context (Chapter 2). Unfortunately, many countries view fisheries data as extremely sensitive and are reluctant to trust nongovernment partners with access, even if they lack internal expertise to fully use the data to inform decision-making. ICTs have shown a great deal of promise in raising awareness and building capacity to drive social behavior change (Box 12). But there is little published evidence of formal investment into innovation or application in this area of small-scale fisheries. This is true for the promotion of the SSF Guidelines themselves with small-scale fisheries actors (SSF Guidelines 13.3), or in terms of recognizing specific knowledge and roles of women in small-scale fisheries (SSF Guidelines 11.6). It is also true of the nutritional benefits of eating fish (SSF Guidelines 11.11) or recording and sharing traditional knowledge and cultural practices (SSF Guidelines 11.7). Evidence from case studies suggests that information exchange between small-scale fisheries actors often emerges organically through social networking, and that building on these existing platforms and capacities could be a way of leapfrogging learning and trust issues associated with new ICTs (Chapter 3). Working with local partners and the small-scale fisheries actors themselves to build from local knowledge, capacity and platforms is the greatest opportunity to leverage and scale technologies to achieve the objectives of the SSF Guidelines.
- External link to download this item: https://dx.doi.org/10.4060/cb2030en
- FAO and WorldFish