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How Crabs, Fishermen, and Bankers Benefit from Better Data in Indonesia

In our previous post, we discussed why we and others have concluded that good data is crucial to fisheries management and investment decisions. This post dives deeper into our work to incorporate better data collection, analysis and availability into the Indonesian blue swimming crab (BSC) fishery.

How many fishermen are there? Where are they fishing?

Is this gear actually catching larger crabs? Is the gear cost-effective?

If we want to invest in improvements, how can we figure out if there will still be enough crabs to catch in the future to provide revenue? How risky is the investment?

These questions are ones we asked as we started working with a lead firm in Lampung, a province in South Sumatra, Indonesia. The answers to these questions were not available. Therefore, we’re helping to find the answers through a mobile data collection app to create better data.

About the fishery

Blue swimming crabs (BSC) is an important source of revenue for fishermen who sell their landings into the export-oriented BSC value chain. Since BSC first started being harvested commercially in the Lampung area, crab sizes at capture are reportedly getting smaller and there are fewer of them, indicating a stock that is or is becoming overfished.

BSC only require a short time between successive generations (less than 2 years). That, combined with their relative lack of mobility, mean that conservation efforts will have more immediate results than a fishery like snapper or tuna.

Why this fishery is a target for impact investment

The high value of crabmeat and the short time window for stock recovery translate to higher likelihood of return on investment. Investments in fisheries, if done from an impact orientation, can readily incorporate triple-bottom line outcomes that incorporate environmental, economic, and social returns.

Environmental: Improve the availability of crab through improvements to stock health.

Economic: Achieve a market premium through differentiation based on transparency, traceability, and sustainability

Social: Involve harvesters  in management and compensate them for the costs associated with adopting more sustainable practices

Each one of these impact areas requires better data for design and monitoring and evaluation.

What we’re doing to improve investability

The fishery needed more data to help with management and de-risking investments, but the mechanism had to be:

  • easy to use
  • affordable
  • replicable
  • scalable

The data needs to:

  • answer questions about stock health
  • provide traceability and transparency
  • be easy to access and share with multiple stakeholders, including private companies, multiple governments and NGOs.

Working with our lead firm partners, we created a mobile app for use on Android or iOS devices. The app will provide information to prove both transparency and traceability. Because of the platform, it can easily be tweaked to use in other geographies and fisheries as well as being useable offline – a must for developing country fisheries.

Value chain use of the data

Industry can use the data for monitoring and enforcement of regulations. In Lampung, there are agreements not to land or buy crabs that will negatively impact stock health. These agreements forbid landing berried females and crabs less than 10cm. There are also agreements to support gear change from gill nets which will allow for a more selective harvest. Data collected through the app will therefore be used by individual companies to validate and verify these requirements.

Companies will use the data collected to guide buying strategies to protect stock health and increase price premiums. Data indicate where the best size crabs are being landed and the firm encourages buying from those areas. They are also planning to provide rewards to help fishermen to purchase sustainable gear.

Environmental impacts of the data

On the more environmental side, data can be accessed by fishery managers for determining appropriate access and effort controls which will impact stock health. Managers can use the data for determining local seasonality based on size and sex of the landings; this, in turn, can help determine the crucial times and locations for fishery closures. The efficacy of gear change on landings can also be assessed using the data.

Not only can government use the data, if aggregated appropriately, the NGO community and private companies can use it for their conservation and development programming.

Social implications of data collection

The app collects data about the fishermen, including their basic contact information, landings data, and vessel affiliation. The landings data for individual fishermen will serve as a record of their income from BSC fishing. Accordingly, financial institutions, like banks, can use this data to determine their bankability.

Circling around – how does this relate to the broad issues of improved management and investment?

Management will benefit from better data on size, sex, landed weight and geography for localized management plans. Stock assessments will also improve with better data. Also relevant, the process of data collection has helped identify unregistered fishermen. Because of this, they can be provided with the opportunity to register for their federal fisher i.d. card (“Kartu Nelayan”). Among other things, this gives fishery managers a better sense of the number and characteristics of fishermen in the area so that efforts to manage the fishery will include them.

Implications for investment are multi-level. At the company or even industry level, investors can use the landings data for individual companies. In addition, the improved stock assessments and record of the expected recovery will serve them when determining value chain investment risk. Correspondingly, at the personal level, the data contributes to financial inclusion for the fishermen: it serves as a record of income for fishermen to banks and having their Kartu Nelayan gives them the opportunity to receive potential government benefits.

What’s next for better data

In this fishery specifically, we’re working to address legal issues related to data collection, ownership and sharing in cooperation with the ministry of fisheries and aquaculture and NGOs active in the fishery. At the same time, we want to ensure the ongoing usefulness of the data mechanism we’ve helped to develop.

We’ve also developed an investable model, designed for philanthropic and impact investors.

To stay updated on our efforts to capture better data or learn more about the investable model, subscribe or send us an email. Both options are below.