By Belinda Bramley, NLA International Associate

The world is waking up to key issues around gender inequality in fisheries, the seafood industry and the wider Blue Economy. The ambitious Seafood and Gender Equality (SAGE) initiative launched in October 2020 with a mission to “uplift, amplify, and integrate diverse voices in global seafood production” and the aim of achieving gender equality in at least 75% of global seafood production by 2030.

In March, Dona Bertarelli, Special Adviser for the Blue Economy at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), wrote that, “Growing a sustainable and resilient Blue Economy by fully including women’s potential, will benefit society and the economy, and in turn, advance all 17 SDGs.”

Finally, a recent study on the topic focused on small-scale fisheries management in the Pacific led to a challenge to make sure that gender inclusion in fisheries becomes the norm, and progresses towards a cross-cutting theme – akin to climate change – to be interwoven “into every single thing that we do”.

NLA International’s own explorations certainly support these views. In late March, our Verumar programme and the Philippine Government’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DA-BFAR) co-hosted an event in celebration of women’s month in the Philippines, to discuss good practices, gaps, challenges, and commitments in pursuing gender equality in fisheries management.

The Philippines ranks 16th out of 149 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Report, scoring higher than many developed countries including the United States. Whilst there is virtually no gap in terms of education and health, the gap in economic participation, remuneration and advancement is 20% and in political representation is 58%. To address these inequalities the Government of the Philippines devotes at least 5% of its resources annually to protecting, fulfilling and promoting the rights of women via the Magna Carta of Women (Republic Act No. 9710) adopted in 2009.

Integrated but unequal

Alfredo Lazarte, a gender specialist with the PATH Foundation Philippines, presented the findings of a gender survey conducted as part of the USAID Fish Right project. The study interviewed 666 individuals in 26 villages at three sites of conservation priority: the Calamianes Island Group, Southern Negros and the Visayan Sea. All three areas have coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass beds which support high levels of biodiversity and both municipal and commercial fisheries. The Philippines sits at the apex of the Coral Triangle, the world’s epicentre of marine biodiversity.

The project revealed that the roles of women and men are deeply integrated but unequal. Differences persist in workload, leadership roles and decision‐making, due to longstanding cultural norms and perceptions[i]. Although men were seen to have a stronger voice in fisheries management, women also wield significant influence through their roles within fish value chains and as managers of household finances.

Participants at the Verumar / DA-BFAR gender equality webinar in March 2021, which was viewed by an online audience of nearly 2,000.

A further finding from this study is that many of the coral reef and deep sea fishery resources which are traditionally controlled by men are perceived to be in poorer condition than the jointly-controlled nearshore ecosystems such as seagrass meadows and mangrove forests, which are perceived to be faring better. Men tended to control high‐value species such as lobster, octopus and squid, whereas women had more control over the nearshore species and shallow-water habitats which serve as nursery grounds for deeper-water, high value species. Luz Bador, President of the National Rural Women’s Coalition, confirmed the key role played by women in community-based management of mangroves. Overall DA-BFAR is working towards an ecosystem approach to fisheries management and this holistic approach provides a good entry point for women to participate more broadly in stewarding aquatic resources.

Capacity and support

Ms Mildred Mercene-Buazon, DA-BFAR’s lead for the national gender focal point system, noted that many opportunities exist for women to benefit from capacity building and support services, including management training to participate effectively in Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Councils. DA-BFAR’s gender activities include measures to:

  • increase women’s active participation in the planning, design, implementation and evaluation of coastal resource management programmes;
  • support the appointment of women as fish wardens (Bantay Dagat);
  • fund the design of women-friendly nets and equipment; and
  • provide training in technology-focused projects.

The Verumar programme, which provides intelligence and capacity development to DA-BFAR in the use of space data for fisheries management in the Philippines, has provided training in remote sensing and related areas to 195 members of the DA-BFAR team to date, of whom 62 were women. Our own participant survey shows a highly positive response to the training provided. Respondents perceived that illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing has improved and female respondents felt that the skills they gained will support their future career development.

Influencing behaviour change

Webinar participants agreed that trusted partnerships, data-driven insights and monitoring and evaluation all play a key part in influencing behaviour change towards more equitable and effective natural resources management. Can fisheries management deliver better results with women empowered, our webinar moderator Lida Pet-Soede was keen to know? With the advent of space intelligence to support fisheries management, a comprehensive data-driven approach which addresses and evaluates the gender dimension can help answer this kind of question. We look forward to testing this hypothesis as the Verumar programme continues in the Philippines.

We extend our deepest thanks to Lida Pet-Soede of the Hatfield consultancy Indonesia office for expertly moderating this thought-provoking event and to all the webinar participants for generously sharing their insights. Our sincere gratitude also goes to our webinar co-hosts Commodore Eduardo B Gongona, PCG (ret,), Director of DA-BFAR and to Liz Cox, Head of International Relations at the UK Space Agency’s International Partnership Programme, for their thoughtful contributions to this event and their ongoing support of Verumar.

[i] Torell, E., Castro, J., Lazarte, A., and Bilecki, D. (2021) Analysis of Gender Roles in Philippine Fishing Communities. J. Int. Dev., 33: 233– 255.

Last year NLA International Ltd working on behalf of Seabed 2030, launched an online survey to find out more about the status and potential of mapping the ocean floor. The survey collected views from across all interested sectors to help us better understand issues such as:


  • Why stakeholders feel it is important to map the seabed.
  • How interested parties are estimating the environmental, social and economic value of seabed mapping.
  • Where are the most urgent priorities for seabed mapping.


All of this will help us to corroborate – or challenge – existing thinking, and hopefully identify any areas of the seabed that may benefit from a more joined-up / collaborative approach.


We have been really delighted with the responses thus far – we have received nearly 470 detailed responses to date – and are currently hard at work analysing the initial findings.


However, it is not too late to have your say! We will be keeping the survey open until the end of April, and we would be very grateful if you could contribute your views.


To access the survey, please click here.


The number of fish in the world’s oceans has halved since 1970 [1]. This is due to the inflation of the world’s population, and a greater reliance on fish as a protein source for many communities [2, 3].

Along with an expansion in population, advancements in technology have increased the pressure on fish stocks through the use of increasingly efficient fishing practices [4]. Together, these factors make over-exploitation an ever-pressing concern.

With risks of jeopardising the future supply of food, and reducing the variety of life on Earth, monitoring marine ecosystems is an important action towards the sustainable use of ocean resources.


Importance of Marine Ecosystems

Protein Source

A report from the year 2000 estimated that one billion people worldwide rely on fish as their primary source of animal protein [2]. Two decades later, and that figure has tripled to three billion – around 40% of the world’s population [5]. Not only are fish feeding communities, they are also the basis of the livelihoods of millions.

“A consistent source of fish is essential for the nutritional and financial health of a large segment of the world’s population.” [6].

The importance of fish as a protein source cannot be understated. Therefore, as this key resource can be depleted, it makes sense to monitor the ecosystems that fish inhabit. Monitoring can provide early warning indicators of when fish stocks are declining, and can help to ensure continued provision of fish as a source of food and income.


Ecosystem Services

In addition to the harvest of fish for seafood, marine ecosystems provide key services and benefits [7]. Services such as:

  • Flood control
  • Recreation and tourism
  • Erosion control
  • Transportation
  • Pollution control
  • Storm protection
  • Carbon sequestration
  • Religious significance.

Not all of these services are lost as a direct result of over-exploitation of fish stocks. However, the interconnected nature of the marine seascape means overfishing in one area can indirectly affect other parts of the seascape [7].

It can be seen that knock-on effects of ocean resource use quickly become challenging to monitor. However, where there is challenge, there is opportunity for growth. Thus, it can be expected that as our knowledge of ecosystem services increases, with it, our progression to sustainable ocean use will strengthen.


Ways to Monitor

The need to monitor marine ecosystems for environmental and fisheries maintenance has been recognised since the 1880s [8]. In these early days of marine environmental monitoring, information came from commercial fisheries (e.g., fishing effort, quantity/value of landings) and hydrographical data (e.g., temp, salinity) [8].

With the ever-growing threat from climate change, the need to monitor marine environments has never been greater. Fortunately, recently developed technologies such as DNA microarray and Real Time qPCR, as well as remote sensing and acoustic methods, enable the effects of climate change to be closely monitored [9].

General methods for monitoring the marine environment include:

  • Detailed stock assessments
  • Radioactivity monitoring
  • Monitoring of contaminants and their biological effects
  • Marine litter surveys
  • Measures of biodiversity
  • Underwater noise

As technology advances, more innovative ways of monitoring marine ecosystems arise. However, without a holistic framework to identify the higher risk ecosystems, data from environmental monitoring loses an element of direction.

The global standard for assessing ecosystem risk is the IUCN Red List of Ecosystems, which was officially recognised in 2014 [9]. This risk assessment tool aims to assess all of the world’s ecosystems by 2025. An ambitious goal, nonetheless, this has potential to pull together monitoring data from all corners of the ocean.

Through doing this, efforts can be more accurately directed to the ecosystems that are threatened with unsustainable resource use.



In an age of technological advancements and population growth, humans have the potential to decimate the natural environment. It is our responsibility to direct advancements towards a sustainable future.

Written by Miles Smith, a current master’s student with University of Exeter and NLAI associate; studying Marine Vertebrate Ecology and Conservation. Miles is particularly interested in behavioural ecology and how this field of study can be applied conservation issues, and how solutions to these issues can work for biodiversity and human communities alike.


  1. 2016. Living Planet Report 2016. Risk and resilience in a new era. WWF International, Gland, Switzerland
  2. Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Fisheries Department, 2000. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture, 2000 (Vol. 3). Food & Agriculture Org..
  3. Thilsted, S.H., James, D., Toppe, J., Subasinghe, R., Karunasagar, I. (2014). Maximising the Contribution of Fish to Human Nutrition. Sustainable Aquaculture,
  4. Bell, J. D., Watson, R. A., & Ye, Y. (2016). Global fishing capacity and fishing effort from 1950 to 2012. Fish and Fisheries, 18(3), 489–505.
  6. Tidwell, J. H., & Allan, G. L. (2001). Fish as food: aquaculture’s contribution. EMBO Reports, 2(11), 958–963.
  7. Barbier, E. B. (2017). Marine ecosystem services. Current Biology, 27(11), R507–R510.
  8. Bean, T. P., Greenwood, N., Beckett, R., Biermann, L., Bignell, J. P., Brant, J. L., … Righton, D. (2017). A Review of the Tools Used for Marine Monitoring in the UK: Combining Historic and Contemporary Methods with Modeling and Socioeconomics to Fulfill Legislative Needs and Scientific Ambitions. Frontiers in Marine Science, 4
  9. Danovaro, R., Carugati, L., Berzano, M., Cahill, A. E., Carvalho, S., Chenuil, A., … Borja, A. (2016). Implementing and Innovating Marine Monitoring Approaches for Assessing Marine Environmental Status. Frontiers in Marine Science, 3.
  10. IUCN-CEM 2016. The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems. Version 2016-1. <>. Downloaded on 24 Jan. 21.

We were very interested by this article, originally posted on Sofar Ocean.  As strong advocates of the value of Ocean data we are pleased to be able to share this with the kind permission of the Sofar Ocean team.

For years (and we mean many years), the ocean helped us mitigate the early effects of human emissions by absorbing greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide and heat, from the atmosphere. As a result, more than 90 percent of the warming that happened on Earth between 1971 and 2010 occurred in the ocean. A selfless act by Mother Nature, but it’s catching up to us. 

Climate change, which describes long-term changes to temperature and typical weather, is accelerating at an alarming pace—and the impacts are hard to ignore. Let’s take a look at some changes to our ocean.

3 Ways Climate Change Affects Our Ocean 

Rising sea levels

Sea levels are rising at the fastest rate in 3,000 years. From 2018 to 2019, the global sea level rose to 6.1 millimeters. Sure, a few millimeters doesn’t sound like a lot, until you hear that the average, since 1993, has been 3.2 millimeters per year. That means that last year we doubled the global average from the past twenty years! The same report shares that the U.S. East Coast’s average is actually three to four times the global average. The ocean is rising, and it’s rising fast.

The two major causes are thermal expansion (warm water expands), and melting glaciers and ice sheets. Why should we care? Rising sea levels increase the amount and severity of floods and shoreline erosion. It may also destroy wildlife habitats on the shoreline, interfere with coastal farming, and contaminate potable water sources. 

Ocean acidification

Ocean acidification is a chemical imbalance that stems from large amounts of carbon dioxide. Put simply, it increases the concentration of hydrogen ions and reduces the amount of carbonate ions. Shellfish and other sea life rely on carbonate ions to grow their shells and thrive. But with fewer carbonate ions, shells become thin and brittle, growth slows down, and death rates increase. Since the Industrial Revolution, ocean acidity has increased by 30%. With large shellfish die-offs, the whole marine food chain is affected—not the best news for the multi-billion dollar fishing industry. 

Extreme weather events

With more heat in the atmosphere and warmer ocean surface temperatures, the world is experiencing an increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events. For example, research suggests that the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes—characterized by higher wind speeds and more precipitation—is steadily increasing. To make matters worse, sea-level rise and a growing population along coastlines will exacerbate their impact. We’re predicting that coastal engineers and planners will be busy in the coming years. 

Mitigating These Effects With Data

As demonstrated above, after years of emitting greenhouse gases, the effects of climate change are very evident. It’s time to collectively mitigate and reduce our carbon footprint. 

We’re going to come out and just say it—we believe it starts with better data. 

The current scale, pace, and practice of ocean scientific discovery and observation are not keeping up with the changes in ocean and human conditions. Current data is siloed and inaccessible—hindering a unified knowledge base for strategies and policy making. 

Here are some ways that data needs to improve:

Affordability : According to the Global Ocean Science Report (compiled by UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission) ocean research is currently led by a small number of industrialized countries. Why? Because they can afford investments in data technology. Many coastal nations are not involved in building this knowledge base simply because they can’t afford the tools. Research is expensive.

By providing real-time information in actionable forms, this technology is incredibly useful for driving innovation. In order to accelerate the co-creation of knowledge and strategies, these tools need to be accessible to developing countries as well. Affordability and accessibility is the driving force behind Sofar Ocean’s Spotter buoys, which you can read more about here

Open data sharing : A major stumbling block to universal data synthesis is ownership. Government agencies, research, and private companies are all key players in ocean data collection and management, keeping these insights locked away for their own specific purposes. 

Data tagging, federated data networks, and data lakes should be combined to create a new era of open and automated ocean data access. Governments can lead the way by declassifying and sharing data that are relevant to ocean science and management. They can also incentivize companies and researchers to share data by making it a condition for access to public resources, such as funding for ocean research, permits for coastal development, or licenses for oil exploration or fishing.

Making Waves Requires Momentum

A molecule of CO2 emitted in India or China has the same effect on the climate system as a molecule emitted in the United States. No matter where we are, climate change affects us all the same. 

Transformative changes require a unified approach. And we believe that starts with data.


TomKat KoolPak

As champions of a circular, sustainable solution to the environmentally-damaging problem of polystyrene fish packaging, we are delighted to support Tom and Kath Long as they bring the revolutionary TomKat KoolPak to market.

Since Belinda first connected with Tom almost a year ago, we have been enormously impressed with Tom and Kath’s energy, focus and commitment to quality. We think the Koolpak is set to take the packaging world by storm and it is our great pleasure to be a “Koollaborator” and share Tom and Kath’s story so far.


Why the KoolPak?

Kath explained that when she and her husband, Tom, decided to market their premium quality reef fish direct to the public, including top-line Sydney restaurants, polystyrene proved a barrier. “We were concerned about the volume of polystyrene going to landfill, or even worse, the ocean. We searched for an alternative, but nothing matched polystyrene’s performance, so we created our own.” From the outset, their innovation needed to be environmentally responsible and thermally efficient for it to be viable. The project has grown significantly since then, and their re-usable, recyclable box, which is now trademarked as the TomKat KoolPak, has developed into a system complete with block chain traceability and temperature monitoring.

Kath and Tom’s research indicates that the seafood industry is responsible for approximately half a billion Polystyrene (EPS) fish boxes entering landfill and the ocean every year. Polystyrene can also find its way into the stomachs of seabirds, sea mammals, fish and other marine life affecting the entire food chain.

EPS fish boxes are the most commonly used product for transportation and protection of fish and fish products worldwide. They have well-established attributes in thermal performance, impact protection and stacking strength. In addition, they are lightweight and relatively cheap to manufacture. Unfortunately, the very qualities that make EPS such a cost-effective material are also the reasons it has become widely considered as an environmental problem. Polystyrene is one of the most common items floating in the ocean, readily harming sea life and human health.

The seafood industry is directly dependent on the health and resilience of the world’s oceans. Reducing the use of polystyrene packaging demonstrates our commitment to environmental responsibility and improves our social licence to operate.


Features of the TomKat KoolPak

Kath and Tom explained “Since flying our own line caught reef fish to Lolla Producer, a show designed to introduce best-in-class producers to chefs who share values of local, ethical and sustainable produce, in our prototype KoolPak we have been focussed on developing the most advanced, environmentally responsible packaging solution in the world. The TomKat KoolPak provides so much more than just an alternative to EPS.”

They have worked meticulously with three Australian companies, each of them recognised globally as having sustainable practices and as leaders in their own fields, to develop materials which are best in their class. Specific blends have been developed, tested, and manufactured specifically for the KoolPak project, and Kath and Tom have ensured that no materials are co-mingled so they remain 100% recyclable. Beyond excellent material specifications, many of the processes to convert these into the required form were developed specifically for this project. These processes are currently being adapted by a global leader in designing manufacturing systems to develop commercialised machinery capable of high-volume outputs with lowest energy inputs.

Independent testing by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has proven that the KoolPak has equivalent thermal performance to EPS, and in some situations exceeds it, such as if product is left on a tarmac in the sun. The KoolPak has airline approval for up to 25 kg, which is 25% more than an equivalent sized polystyrene box, without the need for a single use plastic liner bag or single use restrictions.

Imperative for sustainability and environmental protection was to design a container that was capable of multiple use. The KoolPak is flat-packable making transportation and storage efficient and is designed to be re-used by the same user or re-assigned for rotational re-use. The KoolPak app uses block chain technology to track and trace each KoolPak from point of manufacture, through reuse and ultimately back to the recycler. Businesses can use this information to help achieve and validate their own sustainable development goals. To further build value and advantage for the user, we have developed and included a specialised passive NFC temperature sensor tag.

As fishers Kath and Tom know their target market is the seafood industry, but the KoolPak has significant application across a number of sectors that rely on efficient transport of perishable and temperature-sensitive products including agricultural and horticultural produce, meat and dairy produce, pharmaceutical products such as medicines and vaccines, chemicals and biological samples, e-commerce, confectionery and electronics and IT equipment.

For further information and Kath and Tom’s exciting innovations, please visit



Enabled by improving connectivity, new space capabilities and advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence the Blue Economy is increasingly recognised as a market of substantial opportunity. The UNCTAD estimate the Blue Economy to be worth in excess of $3Trillion USD a year and it is growing.

The question now musts be, how can those advances in technology come together with science and business to create sustainable economic growth and prosperity?!  In this webinar we will explore how oceanic data and advanced technologies can be leveraged to enable maritime businesses to sustainably embrace digital transformation and the future whilst helping to improve carbon emissions and drive cost reductions.
Join us as we speak with leading maritime experts including
  • Professor Alex Rogers, Rev Ocean’s Science Director,
  • Nick Lambert, Co-founder & Director, NLA International
  • Dr. Peter Collinson, Marine Robotics Specialist and former Global Environmental Response Expert at BP
  • Kiran Venkatesh, CEO & Co-founder, FrontM
  • Lisa Moore (HOST) – VP Commercial Product Management, FrontM
In this webinar you will learn about:
  • The strategic and oceanic operational barriers that need to be tackled to enable shipping companies to embrace the Connectivity, AI and Big Data Revolution
  • 5G, Satcoms and worldwide connectivity combined with the latest in computing power and advanced analytics – Has the future already arrived?
  • Which of the latest and greatest technology offers in the market are the ‘real deal’, and which ones may be overhyped? How can you tell?
  • How can maritime organisations of any size maximise big data connectivity capabilities to  reduce costs and sustainably improve efficiencies?

Join us at 13:00 (UTC+1) on 14 October 2020

Influence and drive sustainable, digital change in our new world by registering to participate for free here and join our global Live Webinar with FrontM to enter the worldwide discussion on the digitisation of the Blue Economy.

This week The Institute of Navigation (ION) will host the ION GNSS+ 2020 VIRTUAL Conference. Running through September 22 to 25, 2020. ION GNSS+ 2020 VIRTUAL is the 33rd international technical meeting of the Satellite Division of the Institute of Navigation.

ION GNSS+ 2020 VIRTUAL will be the largest virtual international gathering of leaders in GNSS and GNSS-related positioning, navigation and timing and is the year’s only opportunity to learn about new advances and the latest technologies, see the latest research and stay up-to-date on the status of GNSS systems and policy issues.

ION GNSS+ 2020 VIRTUAL will host:

  • Live streaming of all panel/keynote sessions each day
  • More than 300 technical sessions available on demand
  • Live streamed pre-conference tutorials (additional fee applies)
  • The Civil GPS Service Interface Committee meeting
  • Virtual exhibits

To catch up on the latest from MarRINav please join the session at 10:30 Central Daylight Time (CDT, UTC−5:00) 21 September. 

Plenary, Panel and Keynote Sessions

ION GNSS+ 2020 VIRTUAL will live stream the plenary and all panel keynote sessions through the virtual web platform. These sessions will also be recorded and uploaded for viewing at a later time. Interactive question and answer will take place virtually.


Technical Sessions

Individual technical presentations will be pre-recorded and uploaded with slides to the ION GNSS+ 2020 VIRTUAL site each morning for viewing at a later time. Attendees will have the option to submit questions to each presenter.


Exhibit Experience

ION GNSS+ 2020 VIRTUAL will feature industry partners in expanded exhibitor profiles that will allow attendees to review the latest GNSS and GNSS-related technologies and products and view product demonstration videos.


FREE Conference Registration for First-time Attendees*

The Institute of Navigation is offering FREE conference registrations for ION GNSS+ first-time attendees*. (*Some exclusions apply. See for details.)

To register for ION GNSS+ 2020 VIRTUAL, please visit

For more information on ION GNSS+ 2020 VIRTUAL, please email ION at or call +1-703-366-2723.


About ION

The Institute of Navigation is the world’s premier professional society advancing the art and science of positioning, navigation and timing (PNT). The Institute is a national organization whose membership spans worldwide. Additional information about the ION can be found at

The 2020 Virtual Island Summit kicked off today and runs through to September 13th.
The theme of ‘Sharing knowledge for resilient, sustainable and prosperous islands worldwide’ has obvious connections with the Blue Economy. Many island nations enjoy an area of sea space that far exceeds their land area, making the seas and oceans a crucial and valuable enabler to sustainable prosperity.

Organised by Island Innovation, the Summit is covers all of the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals in addition to other topics relevant to island communities.

The free and entirely online event has been designed to connect global islands allowing them to share their common experiences through a digital platform.

To register for the free event and to join representatives of over 100 island communities from the Arctic, Europe, the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, Pacific Islands, South America and beyond please follow the link below.