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Goa’s fish export ban is an ecological, not economic crisis that technology can solve

Goa’s fish export ban is an ecological, not economic, crisis that technology can solve

Lighter net hauls and higher prices have initiated a fish-export ban debate in Goa. The state relies heavily on seafood as a dietary staple for locals as well as a culinary attraction for six million tourists a year. The rising expense of a quotidian meal has made fish prices the crux of campaign platforms across political parties including Congress, Aam Aadmi and Goa Forward. Yet, declining supply is primarily an ecological, not economic crisis. Policies pertaining to balance the scales should weigh environmental costs before commercial revenues.

A combination of overfishing, rising sea temperatures and water pollution have contributed to declining schools of previously abundant fish populations. According to statistics provided by Goa’s fisheries department, Sardine catches plummeted from over 80,000 tonnes in 2014 to just over 6,000 tonnes in 2016. Similarly, 10,000 tonnes of Mackerels caught in 2014 dropped to just under 4,000 tonnes in 2016.

Over-consumption has prevailed, globally, in the loosely regulated seafood market. While vegetables and other forms of meat typically register packaging and expiry dates, when it comes to fish most world markets continue to employ the honour system. The United States relies on imports to supply 90% of all consumed seafood. There poses a lucrative market for coastal zones like Goa to over-fish local waters and meet international demand. It also leaves large volumes of fish, transported thousands of miles and exchanged by dozens of hands, undocumented and unchecked.

American entrepreneur, Sean Barrett, raised over USD 75,000 on a Kickstarter campaign to remedy this problem. His startup, Dock to Dish, tracks fishing boats and delivery vans using geospatial tracking devices designed by Pelagic Data Systems. The sensors catalogue specific information about each catch in a digital database called Fishtrax, which records barcodes associated with each box of fish. The integrated tracking system provides real-time reports of fish deliveries and files a digitally verified record of each segment of the transport network.

Citing the problem of high demand and unchecked supply chains, Barrett says, “The game is to source at the lowest price and sell at the highest price, and in between there’s a huge incentive to lie and misrepresent what species it is, how it was caught, and where and when it was caught.”

Barrett’s end to end tracking system, not only ushers transparency to both buyers and consumers, it shines light on a deeper ecological concern – the impending extinction of fish species. Tracking seafood supply would allow local authorities to regulate and supervise fishing methods to curb overharvesting and fraud. Overtime digitally recorded data could inform organised fisheries in sustainable habits to replenish ecological deficits and ensure environmentally conscious commercial practices.

To learn more about end to end transportation and consignment tracking solutions, contact Numadic. Our integrated solutions employ real-time visibility and machine learning to simplify logistics. Supply chain visibility solutions like that provided by Numadic have dramatically helped large consignors reduce wastage, improve transparency and reduce corruption.

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