Finalist, Seafood Champion Awards Innovation Category
Pelagic Data Systems created a groundbreaking vessel tracking system that is completely solar-powered, affordable, and suitable for boats of all sizes. Their technology provides ocean-to-plate traceability for seafood lovers and helps eliminate illegally caught fish from the global supply chain. The system can remotely and automatically ensure that boats are fishing in the right places and the right way.
At the heart of the system is a solar-powered, autonomous data collection device, approximately the size of a smartphone, that records vessel location and transmits over a secured cellular network. It provides higher-resolution tracking than traditional monitoring systems and still manages to be affordable for small-boat fishers. The system is 10 times cheaper than a traditional satellite-based vessel monitoring system, and it can be installed on any boat, regardless of size.
In developing regions around the globe, the reality of the seafood industry is one of overfishing, human rights violations, pollution and fraud. One of the main impediments to proper management and oversight in much of the world is the lack of funding. Pelagic Data Systems’ monitoring technology brings the same benefits as large-vessel monitoring systems at a much more accessible price, allowing small-boat fisheries access to the same kinds of transparency as their larger, better-funded counterparts.
This transparency provides economic benefits for both fishers and consumers. When the industry can confirm that its seafood has been sustainably harvested, its product becomes far more desirable in the market—allowing fish to be sold at a higher price and bringing in more revenue for fishers and peace of mind for consumers.
The systems have helped developing nations with traditionally weak fisheries management—such as Indonesia—improve oversight and accountability of their fleets. In 2015, PDS launched a program tracking ahi tuna in Sumbawa, Indonesia, and followed up by partnering with PT Bali Seafood International and Global Fishing Watch. These programs have brought accountability to industries where such transparency was previously considered unimaginable—forging a path for new markets that can confirm that their seafood has been sustainability and safely harvested. Since 2014, Pelagic Data Systems has launched programs in Gabon, Mexico, Honduras, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines and the U.S.