Natural and anthropogenic pressures have been generating changes in the marine ecological system, and effects of these changes to the well-being of people living in coastal areas are difficult to predict because of the lack of understanding and many uncertainties in social and ecological systems. Thus, one of the most important tasks for marine researchers is to scientifically assist local people in adapting to social and ecological changes for their sustainable livelihood and better well-being. This was the rationale for a new 3-year PICES project on “Building capacity for coastal monitoring by local small-scale fishers” (FishGIS), funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) of Japan, through the Fisheries Agency of Japan (JFA), from the Official Development Assistance (ODA) Fund.
PICES member countries have resources for monitoring environmental conditions and fisheries in coastal waters, while developing nations are far more limited in their capacity for collecting data needed to advance their management practices. Citizen-based monitoring is an approach designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of monitoring efforts when technical and financial resources are not sufficient. There are successful examples of citizen-based monitoring in developed countries. However, this approach has not been widely applied yet to the collection of environmental and fisheries data in developing nations. The extensive use of smartphones in these countries offers a creative potential for implementing the project through a smartphone-based monitoring system used by local fishers and fish farmers that could help: (1) to inform fisheries managers on the near real-time spatial catch data and fishing intensity and (2) to monitor useful water quality parameters.
The request to implement the project was accepted by the PICES Governing Council in November 2017.
The project is expected to interact with, and support relevant activities of, PICES Scientific Committees on Human Dimensions (HD) and on Fishery Science (FIS), PICES Technical Committees on Data Exchange (TCODE) and on Monitoring (MONITOR), and PICES FUTURE Science Program (Research Theme 3 on “How do human activities affect coastal ecosystems and how are societies affected by changes in these ecosystems?”).
The project is being directed by the Project Science Team (PST) formed in November 2017 based on principles and procedures detailed in the PICES Policy for approval and management of special projects (Decision 2017/A/7). All PICES member countries and all the above mentioned Committees are represented on the PST (see membership below), co-chaired by Drs. Mitsutaku Makino and Mark Wells. The PST is responsible for the scientific implementation of the project and annual reporting to MAFF/JFA and to PICES Science Board through the HD Committee. The report to MAFF/JFA should be submitted within 90 days after the close of each project year ending March 31, and include a summary of the activities carried out in the year, with an evaluation on the progress made, and a workplan for the following year. Within PICES, Science Board takes the responsibility for reporting to Governing Council on the progress and achievements of the project.
The Project Coordinator, Dr. Alexander Bychkov, is responsible for the management of the fund and annual reporting on its disposition to MAFF/JFA and to PICES Finance and Administration Committee. The report to MAFF/JFA should be submitted within 90 days after the close of each project year ending March 31. Within PICES, the Finance and Administration Committee takes the responsibility for reporting to Governing Council on the financial and management aspects of the project.
Funding for Year 1 (FY 2017, ending March 31, 2018) was set at $96,385 CAD, and this amount was transferred to PICES in December 2017.
Funding for Year 2 (FY 2018, ending March 31, 2019) was set at $96,383 CAD, and this amount was transferred to PICES in July 2018.
The overall goal of the project is to enhance the capacity of local small-scale fishers to monitor coastal ecosystems and coastal fisheries in Pacific Rim developing countries. Indonesia was chosen as a country to implement the project.
The project key questions are: