Mobile App to track illegal fishing launched

BY: Edith Mensah

A mobile based application that allows for easy tracking of illegal activities at sea has been launched in Cape Coast to aid the fight against illegal fishing activities.

The DASE mobile application literally meaning evidence in Fante was designed by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) with funding from the European Union and would allow fishers to report illegal activities at sea with geotagged photos and optional videos as evidence to appropriate authorities to help clamp down on the activities of perpetrators.

The launch of the App was also used to engage stakeholders in the fisheries sector on more effective ways to track illegal activities of trawlers and vessels at sea.

Benefits of application

Launching the App, the Head of Monitoring, Controlling and Surveillance division at the Fisheries Commission, Mr. Christian Nii Aponsah, said the DASE application would complement the efforts of his outfit in identifying trawlers and vessels that were engaged in illegal fishing activities.

He added that all the coordinates and identity of the offending vessel would be picked up for action.

With the ease the application presents, he said efforts to track illegal activities at sea would be successful.

The Programme Manager at EJF, Mr. Socrates Segbor, said the DASE application would allow fishers to report with evidence on fishing activities that were not in line with the laws of the land to the appropriate authorities for action.

“The DASE App would also help our fishers to report all illegal activities they see and also help them gather evidence for compensation claims in situations where there are damages to their gear at sea.

“The application is a user-friendly one that allows our fishers to have easy access and take photos and optional videos in simple steps”, he said.

Illegal fishing activities

On the fight against illegal fishing activities, a national executive member of the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council (GNCFC), Nana JoJo Solomon, lamented that the country’s efforts to fight against illegal fishing activities had been crippled by activities of some indigenes who collaborated with foreigners to wreak havoc on the country's seas.

"We have had so many encounters where some of our fishers hoot at us for trying to do the right thing, how do we then fight against illegal fishing activities”, he queried.

He called on fishers and all stakeholders involved to aid the fight against illegal fishing activities and tap into the numerous benefits the DASE application offered for “good results”.

The Assistant Command Operations Officer of the Western Naval Command, Lt. Commander Charles Darkwah, called for maximum use of the application to achieve its goal.

He said illegal fishing activities on sea had been on the rise, adding that the introduction of the application would be a step forward towards its elimination.

“I think that this application has come at the right time to help us fight illegalities with regard to fishing”, he said.

He, however, cautioned that the application was not only aimed at targeting Chinese who were engaged in all forms of illegalities, but aimed at all fishers, both indigenes and other nationals who engaged in illegalities.

He charged all stakeholders to ensure effective cooperation to enjoy the full benefits of the application.

Fishers’ concern

Some of the fishers, who had been exposed to the DASE application, said in spite of the benefits it offered, there were still challenges they encountered, considering its limitation to only smartphones.

A fisherman from Moree, Mr. Kwesi Donkor, said “some of us use only "yam" phones and this means we have to buy the smartphones they are saying and it may be difficult.”

He pleaded that the application should be modified to suit all categories of mobile phones.