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Coders for fish: get ready for Fishackathon

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The Sustainable Seafood Coalition secretariat will join the creative minds behind this year’s U.S. State Department-led Fishackathon. In a world where mobile phones are ubiquitous, Fishackathon taps into the potential of mobile technology to tackle challenges to sustainable fisheries management. Its goal is no small one: in a mere 48 hours, computer programmers need to develop mobile applications that offer real solutions to problems identified by fishery experts. This year’s Fishackathon, to be held on 22-24 April, will span over 40 cities globally. The winning apps, selected by an expert judging panel, will get a chance to be used to help protect our oceans.

The global fishing industry faces a number of challenges. These range from accurate recording of catch information to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities. Yet, investments in sophisticated technology can be costly. This is particularly true in developing countries, where small-scale fisheries account for half of the global fish catch for human consumption. This makes the potential of Fishackathon clear: with mobile phones bridging the digital divide more than any other technology, the applications developed can be used by fishers around the world.

Last year’s winners illustrate just how innovative such tools can be. Using the latest technology, team Fish-O-Tron from the UK developed a mobile app allowing fishers to do automated measurements of the fish they catch. By allowing quicker and more accurate catch information, their aim is to save time for fishers on board, and improve the reliability stock data collected by scientists. Harry Owen, of MCB Seafoods, an SSC member, provided fisheries expertise to the London teams last year, and will do so again in April. ‘Affordable technologies can make a big difference to those interested in keeping our fish stocks in good shape. Initiatives like Fishackathon have incredible potential to make it happen.’

You can find out more and help spread the word about Fishackathon on Twitter: @Fishackathon and #codeforfish.

Photo: Pixabay