The primary focus of the project was to develop a solution for profit enhancement for fishermen and their crew by developing a solution for commercialising fresh seafood whilst still at sea, directly from fishing vessels. The objective of which is to ensure that due return is delivered to stakeholders that provide value-added services. The seafood commercialisation solution provided real-time comprehensive fisheries data that was exploited and augmented to develop additional services to ensure that produce can be traced through the supply chain, tools to help fishermen meet their compliance obligations, as well as capabilities to reduce the cost of fishing operations through better planning of fishing trips to optimise possibility of landing desired catch.
The primary objective of iFishSAT is to democratise and streamline the process of seafood commercialisation such that stakeholders, such as agents that add cost but not much value, are ultimately removed from the value chain.
Users and their needs
The target users include the following:
- Producer organizations
- Fishing vessel operators including skippers and crew
- Retailers of fresh seafood produce
- Seafood vendors
- Compliance and monitoring authorities
- Transport providers
- Requirement for a simple and easy to use mechanism that allows produce to be sold to remote buyers as soon as it is caught in order to attract the best price (vessel operators and crew).
- Requirement for a number of different options for selling produce such as sale at a fixed price or via auction (vessel operators and crew).
- Requirement that payments from remote buyers are consistent with current operational practises where the payment is received no more than 48 hours after produce is sold (vessel operators and crew).
- Requirement for a mechanism for searching and buying for the most fresh seafood available using criteria such as desired species, preferred port of arrival, target price and date of catch (buyers).
- Requirement for cost-effective real-time two-way communication on-board a vessel during fishing trips even when outside of terrestrial connectivity (vessel operators and crew).
- Requirement for the number of pieces of existing equipment/devices on-board to be reduced, to safe space and cost, by integrating these are far as possible (vessel operators and crew).
- Requirement for a mechanism to support persistent tracking of vessels and to deduce fishing operations being undertaken (compliance authorities)
- Requirement for a mechanism for tracing produce through the supply chain so that superiority of quality and freshness can be evidenced (vessel operators and crew).
- Requirement for mechanisms to optimise planning of fishing trips to reduce possibility of wasting time and fuel without landing catch (vessel operators and crew)
Service/ system concept
The service concept is as show in Features and How it works sections above.
Space Added Value
- Communication satellites are used to provide connectivity between vessel and shore specifically supporting communication when vessels are outside of the terrestrial network coverage.
- Navigation satellites are used to enable retrieval of vessel location instantaneously, as well as deduce its speed and route, information that is used for traceability of produce and for security.
- Earth observation satellites, combined with meteorological and oceanographic forecasts as well as statistical analysis of previous catch, is used to predict the most productive fishing areas, thus allowing vessel owners to better plan/optimize fishing trips saving time and fuel.
The main benefits of the i-FishSAT system are:
- Profit enhancement for fishermen and their crew through the eCommerce platform that allows them to reach a wider customer base directly without intermediaries and geographical constraints.
- Improves sustainability by ensuring that undesirable catch in one location can still be sold into potential more lucrative markets further afield.
- Unprecedented access to real-time accurate fisheries information that can be used by monitoring authorities to support sustainability initiatives.
- Reduction of the cost of fishing operations, time and fuel, through better planning of fishing trips to optimise possibility of landing desired catch.
- Improved safety and security of vessel and crew through persistent tracking.
- Reduced cost of communication whilst out of terrestrial coverage, through the vessel box, that enables users to send and receive information through the i-FishSAT platform whist still at sea. The vessel box uses a mixture of Satcom and GRPS communication as well as caching techniques to ensure that data is sent using the most cost-effective communication channel.
IFishSAT is made up of the following services:
- A comprehensive and easy to use eCommerce platform for seafood commercialization, directly linking sellers and buyers without geographical constraints and eliminating intermediaries that add cost but not value. The platform has a seamless interface to an external payment gateway.
- A service for tracing through the supply chain to first receiver including endorsement through a Quality Mark to certify authenticity. This allows consumers who increasingly demand produce of the highest quality with many putting sustainability over price to ascertain precisely where and when the produce was caught.
- A service for alerting enforcement authorities about illegal fishing activities or practises.
- A service for fishermen to better plan fishing trips through a predictor of more productive areas for their target species. The prediction is based on statistical analysis of previous catch, earth observation images and meteorological and oceanographic forecasts.
- A service for requesting refrigerated transport.
- A vessel box that allows small vessels that typically do not have satellite communication facilities on-board to retain connectivity even when they are outside range of terrestrial connectivity.
The main issues apart from productization of all the applications and services developed as part of the project are related to payments.
The iFishSAT trading service has unique requirements related to payments which are not currently provided by mainstream financial institutions. Fishermen currently deal with known buyers and financial institutions with which they have long standing relationships and agreements, and typically receive payment within 24 hours of the produce being sold. However, this is only possible because buyers usually have an agreed credit facility in place with the financial institution.
However, as a commercial service and to enhance its appeal to users, the iFishSAT trading service will need to support as many payment methods as possible including Single European Payment Area (SEPA), Sofort, credit cards, PayPal et al. This is compounded by the requirement to support pre-authorisation of payments for small vessels (to mitigate the lack of digital scales on artisanal vessels) with the actual final payment only processed when the vessel has landed and the produce weighed. The requirement for split payments also needs to be addressed; where a buyer makes a single payment for produce and the system automatically takes care of splitting the payment such that the fishermen and any other stakeholders involved receive the correct amount due, and addresses any currency conversion requirements.
There are no payment services providers on the market at time of writing that provide a system off the shelf that can accommodate these unique requirements. The iFishSAT team is looking at adapting an existing payment service to support these unique requirements.
The current implementation of the vessel box needs to go through rigorously technology due diligence to meet the specification of fisheries monitoring and enforcement authorities. The vessel box will need to be remodelled to endure the extremely harsh maritime environment for an extended period of time which might add to the cost.