From: Lisbeth Fog, SciDevNet, More from this Affiliate
Published December 13, 2010 08:34 AM

Satellites help Colombian fishermen chase fish

[BOGOTA] Fishermen in Colombia will be able to tap into the latest satellite information to chase shoals of fish in their depleted fishing grounds. Using satellites from NASA — the US-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration — and the European Space Agency, researchers from the National University of Colombia identified chlorophyll hotspots, which indicate the presence of the phytoplankton that some fish feed on, and a range of surface temperatures.


The technology allows researchers to find and study promising fishing areas, but it may also help fishermen to spend less time and money looking for fish.

Fisherman caught 40 per cent more fish in initial trials, according to the researchers.

"We are not the first to use this methodology", John J. Selvaraj, lead researcher based at the Palmira branch of the National University of Colombia, told SciDev.Net. Chile, India and Japan have used similar technologies.

"In our case, we are identifying those areas in the ocean where two masses of water with different chemical and physical characteristics meet [known as thermal fronts], allowing us to predict areas rich in fish."

This technology may be useful both for fishing and for conservation, Selvaraj said.

The researchers are organising free workshops and teaching fishermen to read the satellite maps.

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