The fisheries sector is enormously important to the economy of the Philippines, particularly for poorer citizens whose livelihoods depend on small-scale fisheries. Excessive and unsustainable fishing, population growth, uncontrolled development, and the effects of climate change have degraded fish populations in recent decades.

Tetra Tech is supporting fisheries sector improvements through the Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (ECOFISH) project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Using innovative technological solutions, we are helping capture vital data on the number of fisherfolk fish and the species and quantities they extract—information needed to develop sustainable regulations.

Through a public-private partnership between USAID, Microsoft, and the Government of the Philippines Department of Science and Technology (DOST), ECOFISH and DOST created the FishR online fisherfolk registration system and database. To make FishR more widely available, the ECOFISH Project team paired it with TV White Space, which brings reliable, high-speed “Super Wi-Fi” to five pilot sites in the Central Philippines. The new technology employs unused television frequencies to provide high-speed wireless internet access over broad areas.

FishR and TV White Space allow fisherfolk to register in minutes on a computer or mobile device, eliminating the need for those in remote areas to travel long distances over difficult terrain to register. Between March and July 2014, the number of registered fisherfolk in TV White Space pilot sites increased by 500 percent. The millionth fisherfolk registered on the FishR database in September 2014.

When an earthquake and a typhoon struck the region, the TV White Space network also provided emergency communications between villages and played a critical role in supporting major disaster response and relief efforts.