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New Tool Helps Tourists Report Fish Catches

26 March 2014

NORWAY - A web-based reporting system can give more reliable statistics for tourist catches and contribute to a knowledge-based and sustainable management of Norwegian fishing tourism.

There is currently no public register in Norway for the fishing catches that tourists take, and reporting catches is not obligatory. The fishing tourism industry is growing rapidly, and this has caused concern about the effect of this fishing on Norwegian fish stocks.

The firm Tura has now developed a new tool for reporting catches. The tool has been specially developed for the fishing tourism industry and recording can be done using an app in a tablet computer or through a web browser. A prototype was tested during the summer of 2103.

Motivation is necessary

Five companies offering fishing tourism in the county of Troms participated in the test, and encouraged their guests to record their daily catches. The tourists were given access to an app in a tablet computer making it very easy for them to report their catches.

The tourists reported catches of cod, pollock, haddock and halibut. The tool is available in Norwegian, English and German, but does not require advanced language skills, since photographs of the various fish species are used.

The test showed that the tourist’s motivation for reporting catches differed, and that a positive attitude to the test on the part of the camp owners and encouragement from them to report catches contributed positively to reporting rates. Some people wanted to report anonymously, probably due to concerns about surveillance from Norwegian authorities. The test period also confirmed that access to a tablet computer increased motivation to report. Many good ideas about how to further develop the system were also brought up during the test period.

Show us your facts

Trude Borch has studied fishing tourism for many years. She has participated in the development of the prototype, providing advice about user friendliness and what is necessary to make the statistics collected reliable.

"If we are to have a sustainable and knowledge-based management of this industry, it's vital that we know what's actually happening. Facts are important also in reducing the conflict between the fishing tourism industry and the traditional fishing industry. A tool like the reporting system developed by Tura may be an important part of this", says Ms Borch.

She continues: "There is currently no overview over how many companies offer fishing tourism in Norway, and it would be positive if registration of such companies could be established, with respect to both surveying catches and control by authorities."

Fishing tourism management in Norway is currently limited to gear regulations, the amount of fish that the tourist can export from Norway (15 kilos), and minimum landing sizes. Ms Borch points out that there is no limit to the amount of fish that can be taken out of the ocean, only on how much that may be taken out of the country.

Reliable reports

The fishing tourism enterprises in the test were able to keep track of how much fish was reported in from their customers every day during the testing. Most companies believe that the catches reported match reasonably well with what was actually caught. The tourists often sat down with the owner of the fishing camp and they recorded the catch together.

"If voluntary catch reporting is going to work, the companies must also be motivated to encourage their customers to report, and they must make it easy for them to do so. However, it may be that a stick is necessary in addition to a carrot," says Ms Borch.

One possible solution that has been suggested is to make it compulsory for tourists to produce a receipt for reported catches, a sort of "contract note", before they are allowed to take their 15 kilos of fish home from Norway.

Commercialization next

The company Tura AS obtained several good ideas through the testing. One area that is being worked on is to make the reporting tool available in boats and on mobile phones, something that will further simplify reporting.

"It is currently not required by the authorities to report catches from tourist fishing. Further commercialization of the system depends, therefore, on the authorities making this clear", says Ottar Remmen, project manager at Tura AS.

TheFishSite News Desk

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