Project

Mobile sharks

Species
  • Sharks
Years funded
  • 2013, 2014, 2015
Status
  • Active
Project type
  • Research
Affiliation
Description

Madagascar’s sharks are in steep decline. Frances has trained members of the Vezo community to collect real-time information about local shark fishing using mobile phones.

Mobile sharks

Frances Humber

Project leader
About the project leader

Most people working in marine conservation say that they have always had a passion for the sea and its inhabitants since as far back as they can remember. My background is no different, and learning to scuba dive and seeing marine creatures up close confirmed that this environment would define the rest of my life.

After studying biology and marine biology at university in the UK, I volunteered and worked for marine conservation groups in the Philippines and Indonesia. There I savoured the opportunity to learn the Latin names of corals and was proud that I could demonstrate the difference between...

PROJECT LOCATION : Madagascar
All news about this project
By Thierry Nohasiarivelo, 22nd April 2016
From Montreal to Madagascar: mobile monitoring back home
During my journey from Tuléar to Andavadoaka we drove along the coast where there is an astonishing view of blue sky, white sand and blue sea that in my adopted country of Canada you see only as a desktop background. I could not believe that…
By Frances Humber, 16th April 2015
New shark bytes in Belo sur Mer
Words by Victoria Jeffers Victoria Jeffers joined Blue Ventures as its information communications and technology (ICT) project coordinator in September 2014. She helps to coordinate its project to assess shark fisheries in Madagascar via mobile phone and is piloting the system across other Blue Ventures…
By Frances Humber, 20th November 2014
A glimpse into shark fishing from Madagascar’s remote islands
Since July 2014 shark fishers on the Barren Isles, a remote archipelago of nine islands scattered 40 kilometres off the west coast of Madagascar, have for the first time been collecting data on shark landings – and they’re doing it on smartphones. Renowned in Madagascar…
By Frances Humber, 2nd July 2014
Catching up with shark data collectors in Madagascar
Managing a project from afar can have its pros and cons.Whilst I have access to fast internet and 24 hour electricity and can help to move the technical of the project forward; emails, skype and telephone calls with my colleagues and assistants in the field…
By Frances Humber, 16th June 2014
The most valuable marine resources in Madagascar
I have just visited NW Madagascar, speaking to shark fishers and community members to explore the potential for expanding our mobile phone data collection on shark fisheries to this region. Up to this point, Blue Ventures has only worked with shark fishers in the SW…
By Frances Humber, 17th December 2013
Notes from Nosy Mitseo, Madagascar: the legacy of the demand for shark fin
In Madagascar the traditional and artisanal fishery are defined by the type of boat and size of motor you use. Whilst this study focuses on sharks landed in the traditional fishery (non-motorised local sailing pirogues) which dominates south west Madagascar, artisanal fishing (boats with less…
By Frances Humber, 27th November 2013
European Elasmobranch Association 2013
This year was my first opportunity to attend the European Elasmobranch Association meeting, and in fact the first ever conference I’ve been able to attend focusing on sharks, rays and skates exclusively. Conferences such as the EEA help busy researchers and managers to hear about…
By Frances Humber, 11th September 2013
First shark fisheries data sent via smartphone!
For six years Blue Ventures has been working with the Vezo communities of southern and western Madagascar to collect data on shark landings. Training and employing a network of community-based data collectors has enabled us to gather comprehensive data on the traditional shark fishery across…
Project details

Shark assessment and conservation in Madagascar using mobile phone technology

Key objective

To create an information and communication network based on everyday smart-phone technology, to provide broad-scale data needed for shark population assessment and monitoring, and to catalyse effective conservation measures for shark species on a national scale in Madagascar.

Why is this important

A major stumbling block to establishing effective and broad-scale conservation of shark species is the paucity of information on their ecology, fisheries and socio-economic value. In the absence of any such understanding, diverse and unconnected stakeholders have no basis or motivation to enact meaningful conservation measures.

Background

Madagascar’s coastline of more than 5,500 kilometres comprises the most diverse and extensive shallow marine habitats in the western Indian Ocean region. Its waters harbour 81 recorded species of shark, although it is estimated that there could be 123 shark and ray species in total.

Despite the biodiversity of Madagascar’s sharks, there is a paucity of information on their ecology, fisheries and socioeconomic value. There are good reasons for the present information and management vacuum: much of the fishery takes place in remote fishing grounds scattered over thousands of kilometres of coastline; the fishers are highly mobile and move great distances to productive fishing grounds; and in the absence of any such understanding the diverse and unconnected stakeholders have no basis or motivation to enact meaningful conservation measures.

The recent extension of GSM mobile phone coverage to much of Madagascar’s coast now provides an excellent opportunity to use an information and communication network to help overcome these barriers. The project will establish a network of community data collectors and managers, equipped with mobile phones and solar panel chargers, to monitor shark fisheries. Through establishing such infrastructure, all stakeholders will effectively share information and communicate, despite many of them being isolated and widely dispersed.

Aims & objectives

The overall aim of the project is to set up and trial an information and communication network based on everyday mobile smart-phones in southwest Madagascar that provides data needed for the conservation of sharks.
The project has two main objectives:

  • Establish a functioning ICT network based on mobile phones that provides reliable data.
  • Create an operational website presenting data in real-time, which can be accessed by all interested parties (e.g., fisheries departments, NGOs, etc.)