Even if you’re not a fisherman, you have probably heard that our marine resources are on the decline. This ecological reality, together with the reality of ever decreasing federal government resources, is creating a significant sea-change in the way our commercial fisheries are being managed.

Increased competition in the industry and more expensive management regimes are causing some fishermen to consider the long term viability of their trade, and we are witnessing a trend towards a large boat, corporate and urban fleet with more concentrated fishing power, overtaking the smaller boat owner/operator fleet more directly tied to the rural coastal economy. In order to change the tide of this disconcerting trend, new and disruptive approaches to fisheries management are needed – and soon.

One tactic being deployed is fisheries monitoring, which involves using either a human observer or an on-board electronic monitoring system (using a camera and computer) to ensure proper harvesting practices are followed while fishing.

Ecotrust Canada is reframing resource stewardship methods by incorporating a triple-bottom line philosophy into the build-out of its own fisheries monitoring initiative. Using this unique business model, Ecotrust Canada is aspiring to support better management and stewardship of the resources that coastal communities rely on. Ecotrust Canada’s strategy is disruptive because we are choosing collaboration over divisiveness; engagement over isolation; and information democracy over restriction in our business model.

What makes us different? At the end of the day, Ecotrust Canada’s monitoring initiative still requires a sustainable revenue model in order to support scaling and continuous improvement. What differentiates us from the traditional business model however is that we measure success in a more holistic fashion. In combination with profits and growth, we will consider our initiative a success if, for example, jobs are created in a community, new entrants to a fishery increase, or if fish stocks begin to rebound.

Our value proposition is multi-faceted: we offer a greater range of value-added products and services at prices lower than those of our competitors. Using open source software, we are able to charge less for our system while simultaneously encouraging ongoing development and customization for different fisheries. Additionally, we integrate our monitoring services with a number of other crucial initiatives (for example, traceability) to further increase the value that harvesters receive as a result of choosing us for their monitoring needs. In this sense, our return on investment is measured by the increased wealth of our customers.

In taking this approach, Ecotrust Canada’s Marine Monitoring initiative is poised to bring about a sea change in the monitoring industry, and meaningfully disrupt the global conversation around fisheries management.

Joanna Kipp is an MBA candidate at Simon Fraser University. She joined Ecotrust Canada as part of the Innovation Field School program, a collaboration with RADIUS and the Beedie School of Business that gives graduate level students first-hand experience in the field of social and ecological innovation. Follow her on Twitter @thekipp