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One of the Worst Overfishing Crises in West Africa

Illegal and destructive practices by industrial trawlers in Ghana have led to small pelagic species known as “the people’s fish” driven almost to the brink of collapse. Scores of small-scale fishers are now fighting back against illegal trawlers using a smartphone app that allows them to record, log and report any alleged fishery crimes they spot out at sea. Evidence gathered via the app, developed by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), an NGO working in Ghana and other West African countries to help combat overfishing, was used to report an alleged infraction of fisheries law to Ghana’s Fisheries Commission late last year. When a user spots a vessel they believe is illegally fishing, coming too close to shore, or damaging canoes or gear, they use the app to take a photo of the boat, with its name or identification number. The app records the location and uploads it to a central database, managed by the EJF, where it can be used to catch and penalise perpetrators. The tool, called Dase, which means “evidence” in Fante, is also being developed for use in Liberia, where dangerous clashes between canoes and industrial trawlers have been reported.