E-Log and Vessel Tracking Integration in Seychelles

The Mahé plateau, an area of around 41,000 km^2, supports an artisanal fishery that is critically important for the food security and economic development of the Seychelles nation. The reduction in catch rates and other evidence of overfishing prompted the introduction of measures to rebuild and maintain healthy fish stocks. While the artisanal fisheries sector has historically been an open access fishery, in February 2020, the government of Seychelles gazetted the Mahe Plateau Trap and Line Fishery Co-management Plan, ‘NOU RESOURS LANMER, POUR NOU LAVENIR’. The identification of new fisheries measures was led by stakeholders and the plan is implemented through a co-management arrangement, ensuring that fishers and other stakeholders have a role in decision-making.
The project was led by the Seychelles Fisher & Boat Owners Association (SFBOA) under a Blue Grant SeyCCAT opportunity and supported by the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA), ABALOBI, and CLS. The overall objective was to co-design and test in real life a set of co-management tools benefiting both SFBOA fisher members and SFA. The benefit that the SFBOA expected from this co-management arrangement was to end the open access, to acknowledge the value of professional fishers, secure their preferential access rights, and raise awareness on the illegal sourcing from unlicensed sports fishers.
The FBOA ran the project in partnership with ABALOBI and CLS, the suppliers of the technology tested by fishers during the project. ABALOBI is a South-African non-profit organisation, specialised in community-led technologies for small-scale fisheries. Pilot fishers co-designed and trialled the ABALOBI FISHER app, to record the who, what, when, where of the catch. CLS, a global leader in technologies for sustainable fisheries management, is the entrusted supplier of the SFA’s Fisheries Monitoring Centre and the Small Vessel Tracking Units.
The project aimed to strengthen the social inclusion and livelihoods of small-scale Seychellois fishers by introducing robust science-based tools and co-management mechanisms to secure a just place for artisanal fishers in the Blue Economy.
Key project outputs achieved during the implementation period included:

  • Successful stakeholder engagements, including a productive field trip to Praslin and La Digue which was featured in an article in Seychelles Nation, aimed to to:
    • Install vessel tracking units and gather feedback;
    • Codesign data visualisations; and
    • Discuss the use of said data visualisations in co-management.
  • Successful data transfers and integration:
    • Catch log data was successfully exported from ABALOBI’s system and integrated into CLS’s THEMIS software, the software platform used as SFA’s Fisheries Monitoring Center (FMC); and
    • Tracking data from the CLS NEMO vessel tracking units was successfully integrated into ABALOBI’s database and used to create personalised visualisations of fisher trips alongside their catch-logging data. The fisher feedback from the visualisations was overwhelmingly positive.
  • Development of a co-management framework that outlined how the project implementation contributes to the implementation of the Mahe Plateau Trap and Line Fishery Co-management Plan.

Significant highlights related to this project include the establishment of a commercial working agreement between CLS and SFA, resulting in the procurement of NEMO vessel tracking units and the incorporation of CLS’s THEMIS software into the SFA’s Fisheries Monitoring Center, providing a clear path for the continuation of the use of digital catch-logging tools to inform government decision-making. Moreover, collaborations in this project between CLS and ABALOBI have progressed beyond the manual exchange of data required by this project: CLS tracking data is now seamlessly funnelled into ABALOBI’s data visualisation system, significantly reducing the effort required to produce meaningful fisher-focused data visualisations for fishers in Seychelles and beyond.
The feedback received from fishers in response to the personalised visualisations developed throughout the course of this project was overwhelmingly positive, and many expressed an interest in continuing the project.

By providing Seychellois trap and line fishers with the channels through which to share their personal data with the SFA, they are given the opportunity to participate actively in the continued development and implementation of the Mahe Plateau Trap and Line Fishery Co-management Plan. This gives small-scale fishers unprecedented levels of visibility within datasets used in governance of the fisheries sector.

All data that was collected throughout the implementation period - both via the FISHER app and the NEMO units - was shared willingly by participating fishers. Fishers signed a data-sharing agreement formally allowing project partners to access and visualise this data; they were not mandated to do so by regulatory bodies. This is a significant shift in the way management is approached and gives Seychellois fishers unprecedented agency in the process of participating in co-management. With formalised access to CLS's THEMIS platform, undeployed NEMO devices, the availability of the FISHER app for free download from the Google Play Store and technological data transfer mechanisms between ABALOBI and CLS in place, the SFA is now in a position to drive the continuation of this project.