A smartphone app that allows canoe fishers to gather evidence of illegal fishing practices at sea has been launched in Cape Coast.

The app named ‘DASE’, which means evidence in Fante, provides a simple, user-friendly program that can help the fisherfolk rid Ghanaian waters of illegal fishing that threatens their livelihoods.

The app, easy to install and flexible to use by all fishers was developed by the Environmental Justice Foundation and Hɛn Mpoano under the European Union-funded Far Dwuma Nkodo Project.

With this app, all that is needed is a small amount of space on a smartphone and when a vessel is spotted fishing illegally, or damaging a fishing gear, the user simply opens the app and takes a photo of the vessel with its name or identification number showing and records the location.

The application then uploads the report to a central database where the evidence can be used by the fisheries commission to arrest and sanction the perpetrators.

Launching the app in Cape Coast, Fisheries Programs Manager of the Environmental Justice Foundation, Socrates Segbor expressed the hope the app will help deal with the illegalities committed on the seas and also protect the fisheries stock to save the livelihoods of many.

“The app has been designed to help the fishermen to gather evidence on the sea themselves. Now they will have something to provide as evidence if there are infractions on the sea. Most of the time, when their gears are destroyed or illegalities are committed, it was difficult for authorities to rely solely on what the fishermen say because they had no material evidence,” he said.

Socrates Segbor also prayed the regulators would support the fishing industry by acting on the evidence that are gathered by the fisherfolk using the app.

“It’s our prayer that the regulators who were part of this project will initiate actions to investigate and punish perpetrators of illegalities on the sea,” he prayed.

National Executive member of the   Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council, Nana Joojo Solomon was excited about the breakthrough but prayed the regulators would support the fishing industry.

“It’s a fantastic application that should be supported to stay. We pray we give meaning to the app by investigating and punishing perpetrators,” he stated.

During the development over the course of 2019, the Far Dwuma Nkodo project engaged with over 700 fishers across the 48 communities in Ghana’s Central Region as well as working closely with the fisheries commission.  

The process provided fisherfolk and government staff with training to use the app and their suggestions and feedback helped to perfect it.