The project is on the world wide level an highly innovative project for developing sustainable fisheries, particularly in Sint Eustatius and Caribbean islands. Due to the small population of Sint Eustatius and the abundance of fish and other marine life in the reef in the marine park, fishermen in Sint Eustatius have to date avoided overfishing in the area. The pilot project, called Statia Blue, will create sustainable practices for fisheries in Sint Eustatius. The proposed solution is a mobile application that puts buyers of fish in touch with suppliers of fish on a “real-time” basis. A key component of Statia Blue is to ensure that fishermen increase compliance with the principles of sustainable fisheries and thereby play an active role as stewards of the protected reefs, parks and species which are the fragile natural endowments of the island and its people.
The proposed solution involves the engagement of fisher-folk in education on pricing and the market mechanism and support of that education using mobile application technology for creating a real-time market place for fish and seafood. The application will be used for ongoing education, supporting market clearing prices and monitoring and evaluation of catches to encourage sustainable practices such as fishing a safe distance from protected zones and management of the invasive species.
Working with a small group of fishermen, the project proposes to provide them a mobile app (“Statia Blue”) and waterproof mobile phones. As fish are caught, the fish is identified and described (size and weight) and reported back to a central database. At the central database the price of that fish and the total catch is estimated based upon the fish caught by all fishermen on that day. Prices are reported back to the fishermen so that they can make informed decisions about the harvesting of those fish. Fishermen can continue or stop fishing depending upon their satisfaction with the price estimated on the market. A pricing mechanism will be used to signal to fishermen which fish are in demand. The app will also have an educational element, administered by Sint Eustatius National Park (STENAPA) who will also raise the credit lines on fishermen’s access to the STENAPA credit card as an incentive for participating in the pilot project. Statia Blue will also have a consumer interface, reporting on which fish are advisable for eating during the season based upon data on the stock of fish in the Statia’s waters. The pricing element will also be present to reduce adverse selection.
The project is expected to benefit fishermen in primarily Sint Eustatius as well as Saba and St. Maarten and the closest off shore markets for fish- St. Kitts and hoteliers in Sint Maarten, as well as to other Caribbean islands. The successful deployment of this project in Sint Eustatius has benefits for the fishing grounds around the neighbouring islands. In addition, the innovation can be a best practice for all OCTs trying to develop their fisheries.