Rare’s OurFish App Debuts On Earth Day

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Overfishing is a massive problem in the world and probably bigger than we think since global fish catches are underreported by as much as 200 percent, according to conservation group Rare. This is bad news for the environment and ocean life and it is also bad news for the economy.

According to a report from the National Ocean Economics Program for the Center for the Blue Economy, the oceans are the source of livelihood for more than 2.7 million people in the U.S. alone, and contributed to more than $258 billion to the GDP of the country, according to 2010 data. Overfishing impacts those numbers because basically it destroys the very source of that economy and makes its raw material scarcer. According to a report by the New Economics Foundation in the UK, overfishing costs over 100,000 jobs and up to $3.2 billion each year. If fish populations are not given a chance to reproduce, nature suffers and fishermen cannot work.

In response to the overfishing crisis, Rare, in partnership with a team of experts, has launched an app called OurFish to help local fishing communities monitor and log the quantity, type and location of fish being caught. Developed by Dr. Steve Box, VP of Global Fisheries at Rare, the app is a response to evidence of general underreporting of fish catch.

“This is the first step in being able to solve the global challenge of overfishing,” said Box. “Having this kind of data and information available on a global scale will enable us to more accurately assess our impact, and take the necessary steps to limit it while also sustaining the fisheries that are so important to these coastal communities.” The app is featured in a documentary called An Ocean Mystery: The Missing Catch which will premiere on Earth Day (April 22) on Smithsonian Channel at 8 PM ET.

The doc will also screen at the Earth Optimism Summit on Earth Day weekend (Friday 21 - Sunday 23), in Washington, D.C. The event will bring together researchers, practitioners, philanthropists, artists, students, and community, government and civic leaders to discuss solutions to preserve biodiversity, protect natural resources and address climate change. Besides screenings, the three-day program includes talks, workshops and exhibits

“The Earth Optimism Summit is the perfect forum to elevate the crisis facing small-scale fisheries and the solutions that can avert it, both of which are rooted in community behavior change,” said Brett Jenks, Rare’s president and CEO. “The powerful combination of fishing data and community-led change efforts are key to enduring conservation results for coastal communities and habitats.”​

Image credit: Rare