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KMFRI’s researchers, working within a collaborative framework in the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization’s (LVFO’s) Catch Assessment Working Group, have innovatively developed an electronic tool kit for routine small-scale fisheries data collection. The electronic Catch Assessments Survey (eCAS) system is a novel data collection tool which capitalizes on cutting edge technology to improve conventional research processes in an integrated way. In a bid to offer solutions to major challenges in manual recording of fish catches such as, printing costs, non-sampling errors, time lag in reporting and data insecurity, the e-CAS application provides avenues for paperless data collection, intelligent validations, real time transmission, and  a hybrid cloud data security.

Official launch of the electronic Catch Assessment (e-CAS) System by the CEO of KMFRI in a Stakeholder’s Conservation Workshop at Sosa Cottages, Vihiga County, 5th, Jan, 2021. Inset from left: Representative of KeFS. Mr. Simon Munguti (left), Ag. Deputy Director, FWS, Dr. Christopher Aura (centre) and KMFRI Director/CEO, Prof. James Njiru (right)

The system characteristics include: registered user accounts which determine specific user rights; a data insertion module with measurable targets; adaptable reports across user groups; and summary statistics that provide useful snapshots of resource dynamics. In spite of its ease of accessibility on google play, the e-CAS application requires admission rights for further use. This feature is meant to cushion the application from misuse or cyber-crimes. The infrastructural requirements for operationalizing the system include a smartphone, a server, and cloud back-up for data storage. On the other hand, the human resource requirements include a manager, administrator, supervisor and enumerators. The system is flexible enough to hold other study modules and provides a platform for integrated research data management.

KMFRI has received infrastructural support from the LVFO-GIZ’s project on “Responsible Fisheries Business Chains in Lake Victoria”. Currently, four routine Kenyan surveys are hosted in the system within unique modules, namely, Electronic Fish Marketing System (EFMIS), Economic and Financial Impact Assessment (EFIA) and Frame Surveys. There are prospects for expansion of the scope of e-CAS in order to facilitate data collection in Ocean and Coastal Systems (OCS) for improved reporting towards sound policy development, better decision-making and responsible fisheries management.

While launching the e-CAS system for data collection in Kenya Fresh Water Systems (FWS) KMFRI-Kisumu, KMFRI’s Director, Prof. James Njiru lauded the innovation and underscored the institute’s commitment to adopt it in routine data collection, with prospects for expansion into Ocean and Coastal Systems’ research.