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Oceans and fisheries
News article13 December 2022Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

STARFISH 4.0: improving the safety and sustainability of small-scale fisheries

Fishing boats, Mauritania © Patrick CHAZOT / Adobe Stock
Fishing boats, Mauritania © Patrick CHAZOT / Adobe Stock

Small-scale fisheries account for 85% of all fishing vessels in the EU but they are currently not monitored: it is difficult to know where and when they fish, and how much. This represents a challenge  to manage fish stocks in a sustainable manner. The EU-funded project STARFISH 4.0 has developed the NEMO technology to address both the issue of sustainability and safety at sea. 110 local traditional fishers in Greece and Mauritania tested the system during 18 months, with success. NEMO is now ready to market.

Tech for safer and more sustainable small-scale fisheries

Small-scale fishers directly depend on the abundance of the species they target. Taking action to secure small-scale fisheries is an urgent priority and highly acute in the Mediterranean region where the fish stock situation is dramatic.

says Sylvie Giraud from Collecte Localisation Satellites (CLS) in France, which coordinates the STARFISH 4.0 project.

With the support of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, the project has developed digital tools to better monitor small-scale fisheries fishing practises while providing safer working conditions at sea. Two local partners, APC in Greece and ECR in Mauritania were also part of the project.

With the involvement of local communities, STARFISH 4.0 developed and tested NEMO, a monitoring system based on 3 components:

  1.  an innovative, affordable solar-powered Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) transmitter using Satellite/Cellular/Internet of Thing communication systems
  2. Big Data monitoring platform
  3. dedicated mobile applications

NEMO is a user-friendly device that is also affordable at the same time. It uses both cellular and satellite communication while the solar panels make it independent from on board power supply. All of these provide connectivity wherever the fishermen are.

says Orestis Anagnopoulos from STARFISH.

A total of 110 local traditional fishers in Greece and Mauritania tested NEMO during 18 months. The fishers tested the robustness of the system, battery life, ease of use and accuracy of data. This helped refine the product and services NEMO is now ready to market.

Too big to ignore

Small-scale fisheries account for 50% of the global catch and 95% of the world’s fishers.The lack of monitoring usually present for large, industrial fishing vessels creates significant challenge for sustainable resource management in a context of depleting coastal fish stocks, in particular in Greece which has the largest small-scale fishing fleet in the Union.

We have to estimate and monitor the fish stocks” says Niki Matzafleri, of the Regional Fisheries Department, Magnesia and Northern Sporades Islands. ”These small vessels need to be equipped with a device that can manage to monitor all the fishing efforts. It is necessary to have a system, a simple one, that can report the catches daily so we can control the fish resources.” STARFISH 4.0 brings similar control and safety standards as the industrial fisheries’ available and affordable to coastal communities.

Voicing coastal communities

The project shows, with the help of fishermen, that digital 4.0 technologies applied to a data-poor sector can add value to their business activities, building on local and sustainable seafood supply chains and direct or short sales. NEMO extends the chain of custody at sea by collecting, recording and transmitting data from sea to land that provides evidence on where and when fish were caught and by whom.

An awarded project

STARFISH 4.0 was awarded the 2021 best project prize by WestMED Initiative in the category ”Sustainable Fisheries, Aquaculture and Coastal Community Development”. The STARFISH 4.0 project is directly aligned with the 3 major goals of the WestMED Initiative: a safer and more secure maritime space, improved maritime governance and a smart and resilient blue economy.

Farm to Fork and digital transformation

The STARFISH 4.0 project contributes to the EU's "farm to fork" strategy for a "fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system", one of the pillars of the European Green Deal. The project can also be linked with the reform of the fisheries control regulation. Using the NEMO system would help fishermen preserve the health of the stocks they depend on for future generations and prove that their catches are legal.

The STARFISH project is also helping to shape the EU's digital future by actively supporting digital transformation, a key EU priority. The introduction of digital technology into the practice of fishermen could encourage young fishermen to enter the profession and support the move towards a culture of compliance. It also accelerates the sustainable development of the blue economy through innovation.

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Publication date
13 December 2022
Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries