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WWF-Pakistan introduces digital tools for fisheries data collection

Karachi, 29 November: Data collection through modern digital technology is key to managing and conserving fisheries resources in Pakistan. Standard data about fish stocks, their abundance, and diversity would help in informed decision-making and implementation of the fisheries policies in the Arabian sea. This was stated by the speakers during the training workshop titled ‘Using Fisheries Data Collection Mobile Application’, where they stressed on the collection of fisheries data using latest digital tools to develop evidence-based fisheries policies, plans, and strategies. The workshop was attended by 25 government officials from the Sindh Marine and Coastal Fisheries Development Department and Marine Fisheries Department (MFD) at a local hotel on Tuesday, 29 November 2022. 
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Ali Muhammad Mastoi, Director General Sindh Marine and Coastal Fisheries Development Department, said Pakistan is endowed with rich marine biodiversity. The data about fisheries resources is essential for the formulation of plans and strategies for the conservation and management of the fisheries. He said involving fisheries staff and fisher communities in the data collection would contribute towards bridging the knowledge gaps and help improve our understanding of fisheries abundance in Pakistani waters. He lauded the efforts to integrate digital tools in data collection, emphasizing that this initiative's replication in the coastal areas of Pakistan, particularly Karachi, Thatta and Badin districts, would render better results.  
While Favad Soomro, Head of Engro Foundation, said that, “At Engro, we work to solve the most pressing issues of Pakistan, and we believe that the information collected through this endeavour will be invaluable in understanding and conserving biodiversity within our coastal ecosystems.” He added that the foundation’s partnership with WWF-Pakistan is of utmost importance, and the research, community involvement, and conservation efforts being carried out play a crucial role in converting fisheries to sustainable methods that are not in conflict with our rich biodiversity.  
Altaaf Sheikh, Manager Conservation WWF-Pakistan, said that WWF-Pakistan, with the support of Engro Foundation, has created and piloted the first-ever Mobile Application for Fisheries Data Collection in Pakistan, which now needs to be mainstreamed at the policy level. “For this purpose, we have arranged a training programme for fisheries staff and local fishers to brief them about the mobile application and its importance as a collaborative approach to the conservation of the fisheries resources in coastal areas of Sindh. This initiative aims to bring different stakeholders to one platform, build capacity on the latest data collection tools, and share experiences.” He also said that the data collected through mobile applications could be used for stock assessment, strategic planning, conservation, and harvesting of fisheries resources. He emphasized that compliance of national and international fisheries regulations can only be improved through the authenticity and credibility of fisheries data that can be ensured through regular monitoring and assessment. 
WWF-Pakistan, with the support of the Engro Foundation, has been implementing the Sustainable Fisheries Entrepreneurship Project in two coastal union councils of Karachi since 2016. Through this project, the organization has built the capacity of fishers on sustainable fishing practices and the promotion of alternative livelihood options. 
© WWF-Pakistan
Participants during the event