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Use of a smartphone application for self-reporting in small-scale fisheries: Lessons learned during a fishing closure in the western Baltic Sea

There is a lack of data on the experience of the use of mobile devices in commercial small-scale fisheries but which are important to evaluate the suitability of these approaches for fisheries monitoring. In February and March 2018, the German Baltic small-scale fishery used a smartphone application for self-reporting of fishing activities to demonstrate compliance with the terms of a fishing closure of cod, which prohibited to fish deeper than 20 m. A total of 1618 trips and 7972 gear activities from 107 vessels were identified and categorized. Data review showed that not all data could be used directly due to operating or technical errors (e.g. mismatch in time and space of self-reported and actual gear activities and missing records on geographical positions). By editing during data evaluation, the proportion of useable trips and gear activities increased from 67 to 78% and from 29 to 69%, respectively. These data provided new insights into the activities of small-scale fishing vessels (<12 m), especially of the data-poor segment of vessels smaller than 8 m (e.g. for gillnets: mean net length of 664 m ± 538 SD, mean soak time of 30 h ± 12.9 SD, mean trip duration of 2.9 h ± 1.6 SD). Due to the high spatio-temporal resolution, the fishers could demonstrate compliance with the closure, with 99% of all recorded gear activities performed in areas shallower than 20 m. Based on the fast and short operation at sea observed, recording intervals of max. 1 min are advisable for small-scale vessels. Potential suggested improvements involve training of fishers, an independent GPS sensor, a remote control and tailored tools for data analysis to properly address future developments of smartphone applications for the use in data collection in small-scale fisheries.



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