Your faithful editor recently sat down with the OpenAI chatbot, ChatGPT3, for a conversation about EM. Edited for length, here it is:
EM4: You probably know that electronic monitoring of commercial fisheries is considered increasingly important for streamlining data collection for fisheries stock assessments. It is also hoped that efficient electronic monitoring, or EM, can help reduce costs associated with onboard human observers. Advances in satellite communications and cloud storage should also, in theory, enable something closer to real-time management decisions in highly dynamic fisheries. Would you generally concur?
ChatGPT: Yes…. Compared to traditional onboard human observers, electronic monitoring has the potential to collect data on a larger number of fishing vessels and trips, and at a lower cost. Advances in satellite communications and cloud storage have also improved the timeliness and accessibility of data, allowing for more informed and real-time management decisions. However, it is important to note that electronic monitoring is not a one-size-fits-all solution…. A variety of factors, including the type of fishing gear used, the species targeted, and the regulatory context, must be considered when evaluating the potential benefits and challenges of electronic monitoring for fisheries management.
EM4: Do you think EM will offer advantages or novel insights as we attempt to monitor climate-change effects on our oceans and on marine life?
ChatGPT: Yes…. By collecting data on a range of environmental parameters, such as water temperature, salinity, and oxygen levels, as well as fishing activities and catches, EM can help to identify changes in the distribution and abundance of fish populations and other marine species in response to climate change. This information can be used to inform adaptive management strategies, such as adjusting fishing quotas or implementing measures to protect vulnerable species or habitats. Additionally, EM can help to improve our understanding of the complex interactions between climate, the environment, and human activities in marine ecosystems, and can facilitate collaborative efforts among scientists, managers, and stakeholders to address these challenges. However, as with any monitoring approach, the effectiveness of EM in detecting and addressing the impacts of climate change will depend on factors such as data quality, modeling approaches, and the availability of resources and political will to support evidence-based management decisions.
EM4: A high percentage of seafood landed around the globe is caught in small-scale or “artisanal” fisheries. Usually occurring in developing nations, these fisheries involve small boats and small individual catch levels. Fishermen operating these vessels are not financially well off and cannot afford to install expensive cameras. And in many cases, even if they could do so, there (may be) no fisheries management agency to receive and review their data. Looking ahead a few years, do you see any solutions or ways to make data collection in small-scale fisheries more likely?
ChatGPT: There are several potential solutions that could make data collection in small-scale fisheries more likely. One approach is to leverage existing networks and partnerships, such as community-based organizations or cooperatives, to support data collection and sharing among fishers. This could involve providing training and support for fishers to collect and report data using low-cost or low-tech approaches, such as…mobile phone apps.
Another approach is to incorporate small-scale fishers into broader data collection initiatives, such as citizen science programs or participatory research projects. These initiatives can help to build trust and collaboration between fishers, scientists, and managers, and can provide opportunities for fishers to contribute to fisheries management decisions.
Finally, there is a growing recognition of the need to support small-scale fisheries management through more inclusive and participatory approaches that prioritize the needs and perspectives of small-scale fishers. This could involve implementing community-based co-management structures, where fishers and local stakeholders have a greater say in managing their fisheries and in designing and implementing data collection initiatives.
Overall, making data collection in small-scale fisheries more likely will require a combination of technical, social, and institutional solutions, as well as a commitment to equity and inclusion in fisheries management.
EM4: And how could governments and fishery managers in developing countries leverage improved data provided by fishermen..? Might we see regional cooperation among neighboring nations to form data collection and analysis consortia? If so, in what parts of the world (and in which fisheries) might we expect to see such consortia pop up?
ChatGPT: Governments and fisheries managers in developing countries can leverage improved data provided by fishermen involved in co-management in several ways. First, the data can be used to inform stock assessments and develop more effective fisheries management strategies, such as setting sustainable catch limits or implementing seasonal or area closures. Second, the data can help to identify areas or species of conservation concern, and support the design and implementation of marine protected areas or other conservation measures. Finally, improved data can help to build trust and collaboration between fishers, scientists, and managers, and support the development of more inclusive and participatory approaches to fisheries management.
Regional cooperation among neighboring nations to form data collection and analysis consortia is also a promising approach to improving fisheries management in developing countries. By pooling resources and expertise, these consortia can help to address common challenges, such as illegal fishing or overfishing, and promote more effective and sustainable management across borders. Several examples of such consortia already exist, such as the Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center (SEAFDEC), which supports regional cooperation on fisheries management and research in Southeast Asia.
The potential for data collection and analysis consortia will depend on a range of factors, including the level of political will and resources available for fisheries management, the degree of regional cooperation and coordination, and the nature and scale of the fisheries involved. Some regions that may be particularly well-suited for such consortia include the Western and Central Pacific Ocean, where tuna stocks are managed through the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), and the Southeast Atlantic, where the Benguela Current Commission (BCC) supports cooperative management of shared fish stocks. However, the potential for consortia to emerge will depend on the willingness of governments and other stakeholders to work collaboratively towards more sustainable and equitable fisheries management.
EM4: Many fishermen tend to distrust government and fishery managers, and/or doubt that EM can benefit them in any way. If you were talking to skeptical fishermen who didn’t want to mess with cameras onboard or on co-management of any kind, what would you tell them in order to encourage them to be a bit more open-minded on these topics?
ChatGPT: First, EM can provide a more accurate and comprehensive picture of fishing activity, including catch levels and bycatch, which can help to support more effective and sustainable management decisions. By providing data that is reliable and objective, EM can also help to build trust and collaboration between fishers, scientists, and managers, and support more participatory and inclusive approaches to fisheries management.
Second, co-management initiatives can provide fishers with greater control and ownership over their fisheries, and can help to ensure that their perspectives and needs are taken into account in decision-making. By working collaboratively with fishers, co-management can help to identify and address common challenges, such as overfishing or habitat degradation, and promote more sustainable and equitable fisheries management.
Finally, EM and co-management can provide economic and social benefits for fishermen, such as improved access to markets or increased resilience to environmental and economic shocks. By supporting more sustainable and equitable fisheries management, these initiatives can help to ensure the long-term viability of fisheries and the communities that depend on them.
Overall, while it is understandable that fishermen may be skeptical of new approaches to fisheries management, there are several reasons why EM and co-management can benefit both fishermen and the broader ecosystem. By working collaboratively towards more sustainable and equitable fisheries management, we can help to ensure the long-term health and viability of our oceans and the communities that depend on them.
EM4: Thanks, I’ve enjoyed our chat.
ChatGPT: You’re welcome! If you have any more questions or topics you’d like to discuss, feel free to ask!
EM4: Well, there is one more thing. Would you please compose a humorous limerick or short rhyming poem that would appeal to EM researchers and practitioners?
ChatGPT: Sure, here’s a quick limerick for the EM researcher and practitioner crowd:
There once was a researcher so keen
On EM, they knew it was the scene
With cameras and tech
They caught fish by the neck
And gave the old observers the heave!
I know, I know, the AI wrote it! All I did was add the italics, swear to God. Besides, fish don’t have necks!
Still, AI is going to change the world, so it behooves us all to stay informed to the extent we can. In the fishtech sector most AI advances have been in image and activity recognition for video data review, but it’s interesting to ponder how fisheries management itself will change as AI evolves away from the information-gathering-and-regurgitation level of ChatGPT3 (illustrated above), and nearer the level of “artificial general intelligence,” which will meet or exceed human capabilities in many fields. After having this chat I ponied up for ChatGPT3.5 and probed a bit further. Based on those exchanges (and considering that AI is currently scoring in the 88th percentile on the Law School Admissions Test) I think it’s safe to say that robots will replace attorneys before they come for the fishtech and fishery management jobs—not to mention limerick writers. Much larger concerns will persist, however, as described in this sobering article about “the grandfather of AI” and his warnings about the evolving technology.
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P.S. If you’re active in this sector and haven’t yet added yourself to our Community Directory, please do so. It just takes a few minutes and it’s a good way for people learn about what you’re up to!