PeskAAS is one of the most sophisticated data collection systems for small-scale fisheries in the world. The open-source online dashboard tracks fishing activities in Timor-Leste, including the number and type of fish caught by individual boats in near real-time. It puts important data in the hands of fisheries officers, researchers and local stakeholders and enables them to better understand the contribution of fish and fisheries to local livelihoods and food security.

The publicly-available dashboard was developed and tested by WorldFish and Timor-Leste’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) over a period of two years before its launch in 2019 and has highlighted previously-unknown fishing areas, patterns and productivity in the nation. PeskAAS automatically analyzes data from landing sites and solar-powered tracking devices installed on boats.

Since 2018, the CGIAR Research Program on Fish Agri-Food Systems (FISH), led by WorldFish, has worked in partnership with technology firm Pelagic Data Systems to install 359 of the solar-powered tracking devices on fishing boats in Timor-Leste. The devices track boat movements and send data via satellite back to the dashboard.

In 2019, MAF hired data collectors to work across 30 key landing sites in the country’s 11 coastal municipalities. Data collectors meet fishers as they come back from their fishing trips, using smartphones or tablets to record the amount and type of species landed. The information is then uploaded to the data pipeline and appears on the dashboard the same day.

Fisheries in Timor-Leste are very small scale and most fishers use paddle canoes to access narrow fringing reefs. Currently, reefs in Timor-Leste have healthy fish stocks and while there is great potential to develop small-scale fisheries to achieve national nutrition and development goals, there is also a danger that certain species in these areas could be overfished.

The decision dashboard was developed initially under the Fisheries Sector Support Program (2015–2019) funded by the Norwegian Embassy in Jakarta and led by WorldFish and MAF. The work is being continued as part of a USD 100,000 Inspire Challenge grant from the CGIAR Platform on Big Data for Agriculture.

Critical to the project’s design and implementation has been involving the fishing communities and municipal fisheries officers at every step. Responsibility for managing the data collection has been handed over MAF, with WorldFish providing ongoing technical support.