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Launching a social enterprise where data empowers local fisheries

Electronic monitoring (EM) has been in use as a fisheries management tool for more than a decade. And what started out 8 years ago as a way for Ecotrust Canada to meet the needs of a BC fishery partner for a cost effective EM system, has now grown into the launch of a new social enterprise – Teem Fish Monitoring Inc.

Meeting a community need

With electronic monitoring, onboard computers record data from video cameras and GPS sensors to give fishery managers a detailed view of harvests and prevent overfishing and illegal practices. But most EM systems are cost-prohibitive for smaller fishing operations. So in 2010, with our deep expertise in sustainable fisheries management and hearing the community need for a more cost-effective alternative, Ecotrust Canada partnered with the Area A Crab Association in Prince Rupert, BC to innovate and develop an EM service of its own.

By building our own technology, we developed a system that was both cost effective and could be adapted for almost any fishery, with the goals of improving communities’ ability to pursue environmentally and economically sustainable livelihoods. By fostering partnerships with other local organizations over the years, our EM service has expanded to monitoring more locations and fisheries across Canada and the U.S., providing services to a mix of fish harvester associations and sectors, First Nations fisheries, and federal government agencies.

Partnering for world-class technology

Due to concerns over fisheries sustainability, the seafood industry faces increasing regulation, and there is the global recognition that most, if not all, fisheries should move towards some level of monitoring and auditable reporting. By launching our EM service into a new social enterprise this year, Teem Fish Monitoring Inc. can continue to grow in its mission to provide world-class electronic monitoring technology to local fisheries at an affordable price.

Instead of continuing with our own in-house technology though, Teem Fish Monitoring has formed a partnership with Snap Information Technologies Ltd. from New Zealand, who are world leaders in their field and who share the same values-based business model. This will allow our EM service to expand globally and to meet the growing demand for innovative high-tech fisheries monitoring technology that is effective, affordable, and practical for fish harvesters to deploy.

Expanding our fisherman-focused, mission-based model

“We are incredibly proud of keeping our focus on the needs of fish harvesters, providing them with accessible, affordable and appropriate monitoring services to meet their regulatory requirements,” says Amanda Barney, General Manager of our Marine Monitoring Initiative for the last seven years, and now CEO of Teem Fish Monitoring. “At the same time, they get robust data that empowers them to take a lead role in fish stock sustainability and habitat conservation.”

For over 20 years, Ecotrust Canada has been building practical economic solutions to drive better social, cultural and environmental outcomes – particularly those that help local communities share in the management of, and benefit from, local natural resources.

This is the fifth for-profit entity that Ecotrust Canada has launched, where we enable our strategic initiatives to grow outside the confines of the charity and to scale impact by entering the marketplace. We’re excited to launch Teem Fish Monitoring, and see it continue to grow beyond our borders as a successful commercial enterprise.

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[Published May 20, 2019]