How technology is transforming the world of Ghost Gear tracking
Part 1 of 2: Addressing common historical challenges
By Grant Bifolchi
More than any other time in history, technology is changing how all people interact with the world and information. Add to the mix such connectivity advancements as mobility, 5G, and more—workflows of all kinds are now at everyone’s fingertips.
This inherent and ubiquitous connectivity is transforming the way that countries approach, combat, and solve the issue of Ghost Gear. And, as a quick recap for those that might not be familiar with the term, Ghost Gear is is used to describe lost, abandoned, or discarded fishing gear—a leading cause of marine pollution worldwide. And whether it’s fishing nets, line and rope, traps, floats, or more, this gear is of significant concern to governments across the globe—representing a substantial piece of the overall global climate challenge.
In fact, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), ghost gear is such an enormous environmental problem that as much as 30% of harvestable fish are harmed by it—representing a constant ripple effect of threats to human health, livelihoods, and global food security. To add to the statistical analysis, “At least 10 percent of marine litter is estimated to be made up of fishing waste, which means that between 500,000 and 1 million tons of fishing gear are entering the ocean every year.”
So, where do the aforementioned technological wonderments of the twenty-first century come into play when addressing this international crisis? It’s all about reach and connection. The ironic part of Ghost Gear is that the same industry that causes it can also be the ones that become the heroes in solving it through simple yet effective technological means.
Imagine if you will a fishing vessel off the coast of any continent. Their primary directive is to catch fish and make money doing so. They most likely won’t add to the mix a plethora of cumbersome paperwork to report Ghost Gear floating in their vicinity—the time taken is not worth the lost revenue.
However, suppose that same fishing vessel had an easy-to-use, highly mobile-device-centric solution that they could log in to, geotag the misplaced gear and go on with their day. In that case, they become the instant heroes, all while never interrupting their mission fish-first, report later. The closest national government receives that same easy-to-submit report. Those tasked to capture the Ghost Gear can leverage the tracking and data, saving it from impacting the environment. Quick, easy, and effective all in one solution.
Now, what does that have to do with WorkDynamics, you ask? It’s the same question that I asked myself just a few short years ago when approached with the challenge and dilemma tracking Ghost Gear. I found out that this is actually what our platform is perfect for—custom workflows, including mobile ingestion of data to be managed and acted upon by multiple parties.
Fast forward to today, we have now partnered with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to create the Fishing Gear Reporting System. Our solution enables fish harvesters and authorized retrievers to access the system through an online portal using any device, where they can quickly create an account and report on gear they’ve found using a web form.
DFO then receives the data in real-time, enabling them to quickly and accurately manage and analyze ghost gear information, report on this data, map locations, retrieve gear from Canadian waters, and share critical insights with national and international partners. This information helps DFO better target areas where gear loss is most frequent. They can also determine the most common causes of gear loss—providing them with a critical repository of data to help them identify ways to prevent gear loss in the future nationwide.
The best news of all is that technology such as the WorkDynamics platform—along with countless other solutions—can be used to tackle one of the most important causes in history: saving our environment. Technology is undoubtedly one of the best tools the world has at solving environmental challenges. And, I’m proud that we can be a small part of such an important endeavor.