The global COVID-19 pandemic has struck at a time when the ocean was already under increasing threat from myriad impacts, including climate change, pollution, and overfishing. According to the latest report on the “State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2020” from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, more than 34 percent of global fish stocks are already fished at biologically unsustainable levels. Furthermore, according to the same report, it is likely that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target 14.4 (to end overfishing of marine fisheries by 2020) will not be achieved.
Governments have the fundamental obligation to manage fisheries responsibly, on behalf of their citizens, as a public asset. But this invokes a complex challenge: ensuring that fishing and fish trade contribute to income, employment, food, and nutrition for millions of people, while also conserving marine biodiversity for present and future generations.
While there are many aspects to achieve sustainable fisheries, the public availability of credible information is critical. But it has not been a priority. Many governments are not disclosing even basic information on their fisheries sector, such as laws, permits, fish agreements, stock assessments, financial contributions, catch data, and subsidies. Furthermore, the data that is already publicly available is too often incomplete, outdated, unverified, or not readily accessible, affecting the capacity of governments to manage their marine fisheries efficiently and sustainably, as well as the ability for effective oversight and accountability.
Diaries of the Ocean (DOTO) intends to ensure good governance of the fisheries sector in Lebanon by completing the following steps:
Data collection and analysis
Enabling environment for stakeholder participation
National Multi-Stakeholder Group
In May 2021, DOTO partnered with Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI) to ensure transparency in the Lebanese marine fisheries sector.
DOTO and MISCK plan to start data collection in the deep waters of Lebanon (beyond the 6 nautical miles fished by the small-scale artisanal fishermen of Lebanon), and to bridge the information gaps present in the data on coastal fisheries. This will be achieved by putting in place a “sniffing” engine to attempt retrieving as much useful data as possible from fish-related social media (Facebook, ...) to be fed to the main artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm, while labeling the data through fish identification with date and location of catch. The AI algorithm will then be able to extrapolate relevant information from this data. This will serve as a baseline for all future work, where a mobile application will be developed, and fishermen trained on using it to insert the data we need formatted, thus helping the AI algorithm to become more accurate.
This will be complemented by the participation and engagement of multi stakeholder groups (private sector, public sector, NGOs, academia, media, and government agencies). The project will be intricately linked to DOTO’s project “United Civil Society for a Transparent Petroleum Sector” funded by NORAD and managed by Publish What You Pay, where the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative is at play.