A monitoring system developed by WorldFish and partners is helping researchers and decision–makers better understand Timor-Leste’s fisheries. PeskAAS is low-cost, open–source, and works in near-real time to track fishing activities. Via an online dashboard, it puts important data in the hands of fisheries officers, researchers, and local stakeholders, and enables them to better understand the current contribution of fish and fisheries to local livelihoods and food security.
A monitoring system developed by WorldFish and partners is helping researchers and decision-makers better understand Timor-Leste’s fisheries.
The country ranks 110th on the Global Hunger Index and has the second highest prevalence of childhood stunting in the world. Aquatic foods high in crucial micronutrients and polyunsaturated fatty acids like omega-3 can play an important role in addressing malnutrition there, something reflected in the National Strategic Development Plan (2012–2030). But fish consumption in the country is low, with an estimated average of just 6.1 kg per capita, compared with the global average of 20.2 kg. This is likely due to the country’s underdeveloped fisheries and aquaculture sectors, high prices, and lack of fish in the market in non-coastal areas.
“The PeskAAS dashboard highlights the food and income contributed by fisheries, and opportunities to develop the sector to sustainably enhance food security. We are committed to investing in this system and working with WorldFish to build the capacity of MAF staff to use and manage it.” – Acacio Guterres, Director General of Fisheries, Timor-Leste Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF)
In addition, despite almost 90% of Timorese engaging in agricultural activities, the national budget for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries is relatively low. Lack of documentation and capacity make it difficult to scale up fish production and distribution nationwide, and Timor-Leste’s patchy understanding of how many fishing boats were active in the country, where they were fishing, and what they were catching added to the problem.
Since 2019, WorldFish scientists in partnership with Pelagic Data Systems have worked alongside government fisheries officers to develop PeskAAS, a digital catch reporting system that gathers fisheries landings information from remote sites around the country. PeskAAS is low-cost, open-source, and works in near-real time to track fishing activities. Via an online dashboard, it puts important data in the hands of fisheries officers, researchers, and local stakeholders, and enables them to better understand the current contribution of fish and fisheries to local livelihoods and food security.
Since 2020, responsibility for managing the data collection has been with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, with WorldFish providing ongoing technical support. The Government of Timor-Leste adopted the system as its national fisheries monitoring system and has funded its maintenance and continued development since June 2021. The project has scaled up as 15,690 km2 of coast was monitored via PeskAAS in Timor-Leste in 2020, 2021, and 2022.
In 2022, a database and predictive model of nutrient composition of fish catches in Timor-Leste was integrated into PeskAAS. This greatly enhanced the potential to develop small-scale fisheries to improve national nutrition. The PeskAAS dashboard is currently publicly available and has received 5,000 visits from 700 unique visitors from 65 countries.
- Tilley A, et al. 2020. PeskAAS: A near-real-time, open-source monitoring and analytics system for small-scale fisheries. PloS ONE.
Header image: Aerial view of Dili, Timor-Leste. Photo by Wade Fairley