Part 3: Opportunities and Next Steps

Modernization of government fisheries data systems offers great opportunity for advancing sustainable fisheries: when coupled with appropriate fisheries management frameworks, a robust data system enables effective fisheries science, management, and enforcement by providing accurate and timely information flow across diverse governance divisions. With smart design, these systems can also return valuable information to the seafood industry and communities, providing positive incentives for collaboration and participation.

 


Building a more aligned and appropriately-resourced movement in order to create impact at scale is an opportunity that cannot be wasted. Our findings reveal that key barriers to adoption and implementation of government fisheries data modernization cannot be solved by more tools; instead, there is a significant need for in-person, customized, dynamic training and support services. This need is not surprising given the nascent state of the fisheries modernization space.

The following areas of opportunity aim to address core barriers by building the enabling conditions and supportive structures necessary to achieve long-term and larger-scale government data modernization systems for fisheries. With smart design, these systems can also return valuable information to the seafood industry and communities, providing positive incentives for collaboration and participation.

Advance a Central Fisheries Data Modernization Hub

The Need: Hundreds of reports, guides, toolkits, presentations, case study write-ups, technology platforms, initiatives, awards, and events exist that can support specific stages or aspects of the data modernization. Unfortunately, these resources remain difficult to find, access, and apply due to a number of challenges including:
  • Lack of consistent terminology: searches for “full supply chain electronic traceability” do not retrieve reports focused on “electronic monitoring and recording programs.”

  • Buried treasure: the valuable information and knowledge is often buried in long white papers, reports, or presentations that contain highly technical language
  • No Instructions: resources fail to provide clear indicators of when and how exactly they should be applied
  • English only: Reach and efficacy of tools is limited by availability of predominantly English-only versions of materials, and creates an additional hurdle for those who might otherwise champion data modernization efforts
  • Later Stage MIA: overall, there is a general dearth of resources available for data modernization past the pilot phase, aside from grants or events specifically targeted towards technological implementation.

The Opportunity: Create a single, accessible, electronic forum that houses information for a broad range of data modernization initiative needs. Websites such as SALT and EM4Fish are a significant step forward in terms of aggregating the enormous volume of literature related to data modernization in fisheries. We recommend the following actions to support greater accessibility and use of existing resources, while supporting continued understanding and adoption of eCDT in government contexts:(1)

  • Curated and vetted list of tools: A curated, expertly vetted, and continually maintained library of data modernization resources that are searchable and sortable, especially by type of modernization initiative and stage. Ideally, filters for enabling conditions and primary drivers could also be included.

  • Interactive Visual Map: Map tools have been successfully used in other sectors such as the timber industry (2) and are becoming more common in seafood (3), these visual guides provide means for users to both see where initiatives are happening as well as sort through information such as technology type, data platforms, technology vendors, existing laws and policies, species, or desired export market.
  • Translation of existing resources into other languages - There is an urgent need to translate a number of existing resources into foreign languages to improve visibility and accessibility.
  • Reformatting -Transfer of lengthy documents/presentations to visual/short guides and toolkits that are accessible to laymen.
  • Directory of experts: A searchable database of experts, and their specific expertise, in the data modernization field, including (where appropriate) contact information for practitioners. This resource would link to the Global Mentorship Program, described below.

Launch A Global Modernization Mentorship Program

The Need: Most governments lack in-house IT expertise to provide assistance, mentorship, and guidance to those implementing projects on the ground over the long-term time horizons necessary for scaled success. And, because every government has its own unique structure, policy, and process constraints, adapting the tools and resources that do exist to apply them to specific contexts, remains a challenge.

The Opportunity: Imagine if government officials looking to implement data modernization had expert, customized, long-term support from a network of colleagues that had experience and detailed understanding of the unique challenges of government settings? Across the globe, in regions such as New Zealand, the United States, or Europe, individuals and agencies have reached more advanced stages of implementation. Individuals within these agencies have developed valuable expertise through learned experiences; they also understand the privacy and constraints unique to government contexts. Connecting these existing experts with emerging projects is a powerful opportunity to advance data modernization for fisheries, providing project specific support while building the long-term professional and personal relationships required for scaling.

A formalized mentorship program can streamline access to experts with the skills necessary to guide the design and implementation of new systems while effectively transferring knowledge, abilities, and experiences to local stakeholders. These “mentees” can then maintain the project over time and share their experiences and expertise with others in the future.

Encourage Knowledge Sharing and Connect Experts

The Need: High touch, customized support is critical, but will take time to scale. Meanwhile, there is an immediate need to increase effectiveness of existing support systems for data modernization. At the moment, stakeholder support largely falls to two players: NGOs, who tend to focus their efforts on shifting policy and process; and the technology vendors themselves, who engage with the system at a very technical, on-the ground level. More often than not, these two groups lack alignment and are often engaging in the space for vastly different reasons, leading to conflicting, incomplete, or unclear information communicated to participants.
The Opportunity: Establish in-country support systems, which will look different for each country. For example, tailored support can be achieved in several ways, including:1) use of an intermediary who can align and coordinate efforts among various stakeholders; 2) conducting research to identify the best approach to cultivating in-country expertise; and 3), developing a support program that champions government officials with interest in improving data. Additionally, we recommend the three following actions be prioritized at a global scale to create alignment and build conditions for greater success, including:
  • Creating a common language around data modernization initiatives: Define key terms, processes, technologies, and project stages that can be utilized and recognized across technologies and geographies, by all stakeholders

  • Providing training resources for technology vendors: Equipping vendors with training in some of the tools and resources that already exist, as well as the strategy and mission of the project, can help to align messaging to government agencies about key issues such as data collection and sharing, verification mechanisms, or how and when to make technical changes to the system.
  • Support cross-sector information sharing: The seafood sector potentially has much to learn from the systems that already exist for other commodities, such as timber, beef, or soy. A variety of tools and technologies ranging from field-based training materials to satellites, drones, and cameras, to DNA testing or RFID tags and AI are all already in use in parallel commodity markets; lessons learned from the implementation of these systems have tremendous potential value for the fisheries world.
 

NEXT STEPS

Successful government fisheries data modernization efforts can only succeed through the collaborative efforts of a range of stakeholders with various expertise. One of the key messages we heard echoed across 60 interviews was that resources are not enough—personal assistance for governments to be able to understand, refine, and implement these tools and guides within complex political, social, and environmental settings is urgently needed.

Collecting data may be a technological issue, but choosing how to analyze and apply this data, and understanding how to do so effectively and in service to all stakeholders (diverse government agencies, the supply chain, the public) remains a uniquely human purview. Given the dynamic nature of the data and technology space in general and in fisheries, we welcome feedback on the insights and recommendations of this report so we can continue to iterate and advance this critical work.

Organizations and individuals interested in helping to build out the opportunities mentioned here, please contact us for more information: fmulligan@futureoffish.org.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 


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1. One excellent example from the timber industry that may bear further consideration is the Forest Legality Alliance Hub and Risk Tool.

2. Forest Legality Initiative Risk Tool

3. SALT’s Seascape MAP