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The University of Southampton
Public Policy|Southampton

The Fishing App: promoting sustainable small-scale fisheries


Sustaining marine ecosystems is an important global challenge. Oceans and viability of marine fisheries are under threat from biodiversity loss, climate change, coastal erosion, pollution and effects of sudden stressors like the COVID-19 pandemic. However, approximately 3.3 billion people rely on fish for 20% of their protein intake, & nearly 60 million people are employed with fishing, processing and marketing, most in the global South. Further, one in two fish workers are women but they are rarely included in decision-making. My current RAEng funded project aims to enhance capacities for adaptation, generate resilience amongst artisanal small-scale fishers to multiple systemic shocks, and co-create social and technical solutions to sustainably manage small-scale fisheries resources in Kerala, India.

This proposal aims to develop ‘The Fishing App’, a smartphone application to support sustainable small-scale fishing, for immediate use by two identified stakeholders: Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT) our local government project partner, and artisanal fishers.

Data generated by the multi-disciplinary and international research team suggests the utility of development of an android mobile app for use by fishers in Kerala, among whom smartphone use is widespread. Such an app will benefit both CIFT and the fishing community. Fishers will receive real time data of fish catch locations, optimised path planning for target locations, and weather-related advisories saving them both time, effort and money spent on vessel fuels (also contributing towards UN’s ‘Climate Neutral Now’ pledge). But, crucially, the app also enables CIFT to collect data in real time on fishing stocks, GPS location and colour of the ocean at that location to develop sustainable fishing strategies and policies as well as climate change and biodiversity related educational awareness. Thus, the mobile phone app will facilitate sustainable fisheries amongst small-scale artisanal fishers who are experiencing declining livelihoods due to anthropogenic factors and issues related to climate change.


The specific objective of this project is to develop ‘The Fishing App’, a new Android App (widely adopted smartphone ecosystem cost sensitive consumer market using open-source software and hardware) through co-creation with stakeholders, including artisanal fishers, community, CIFT and academic investigators of the RAEng project.

Potential Impacts

- on-going data collection facilitated by the app will enable Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT), the Indian government project partner on the linked Royal Academy of Engineering project, to develop strategies and policies on sustainable management of fisheries resources for the Kerala state government and for the national Indian government through its link to the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. The policy implication of the app and other recommendations will be communicated via a policy brief;
- the app will be of social value to artisanal fishers in Kerala who are experiencing declining livelihoods due to anthropogenic factors and issues related to climate change, and which is resulting in shifts to other occupations and migration to urban centres and therefore threatening community, culture and heritage;
- the app will have potential wider impact in sustainable management of fisheries resources in other parts of the global South. The app will be demonstrated at a Knowledge Exchange webinar with practitioners in third sector organisations, policy makers and researchers that is already planned at the end of the Royal Academy of Engineering funded project.

Role of Partner Organisations

All partner organisations are project partners on a linked Royal Academy of Engineering interdisciplinary project - see project webpage:

For this proposed work to be supported by the New Things Fund, Dr Deepayan Bhowmik at University of Newcastle and Dr Madhu V R at CIFT will work with me to oversee the development of an android mobile app in Kochi, Kerala, and developing capacity amongst artisanal fishers in Kerala to use the app and amongst CIFT staff to analyse real-time in-coming data and developing strategies and other outputs that will be disseminated to artisanal fishers via the app.

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG5 - Gender Equality;SDG14 - Life Below Water;SDG12 - Responsible Consumption and Production;SDG10 - Reduced Inequalities.

Project Lead

Dr Bindi Shah

Food, Gender, Enterprise: leveraging interdisciplinarity for sustainable small-scale fisheries
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