TIDE is working on the front line of conservation by using the new intelligence-based Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool or 'SMART'. The spatial monitoring tool is being trialed in Port Honduras Marine Reserve (PHMR) to increase the efficiency of enforcement in the reserve and decrease illegal fishing.
The tool works by monitoring the behavior and movements of fishers, rangers and potential poachers in the reserve. SMART records the PHMR rangers' patrol routes, and stores data on vessel encounters and catch information. By monitoring all the activity the rangers encounter in PHMR, SMART helps to target illegal fishing hotspots and record ranger patrol efforts to improve the management of their patrols in the future.
TIDE’s GIS specialist, Julia Baker, and marine manager, Seleem Chan, have worked closely with PHMR rangers to help teach them how to input data into SMART. The tool is already used across the world to help fight poaching in terrestrial environments. However, Belize is the first country to use SMART for fisheries enforcement management; PHMR rangers are leading the current SMART recommendations for marine environments. Due to the success of SMART in PHMR, it is being considered for roll-out out on a national level.
TIDE is currently carrying out two patrols a day and four night patrols a week in PHMR to monitor activities in the reserve. The monitoring tool collects information which is viewed monthly; the results are important for rangers' self esteem as it allows managers to visualise and better understand the work of the rangers and the geography of the issues they face. This has helped strengthen the whole team at TIDE, allowing better collaboration between field and office staff in carrying out effective intelligence based enforcement.
The SMART journey began with GIS awareness as Julia taught the rangers the power of mapping and gave them GPS lessons. From that moment, TIDE’s enforcement understanding has been growing. Now, the future of SMART in Toledo is to introduce it into TIDE’s terrestrial sites and combine both terrestrial and marine enforcement.
We want to thank everyone involved in the project; the rangers have been the key components in the SMART adventure here at TIDE; they are our feet on the ground.
PHMR ranger, Edwin shares his opinion of the tool with us: “SMART is helping the rangers to prove to management the work we do in PHMR. In using the tool, we have seen the areas that need more patrols and we are able to present more valuable data to the staff at TIDE.”
PHMR ranger, Egbert, adds: “Using the SMART system allows the data we collected to be implemented in the field. For example, if illegal fishers are caught without a Managed Access license we will know straight away as all this information is stored within SMART.”
We will keep you updated on SMART's future success.
UPDATE: DECEMBER, 2015
SMART has been in use in PHMR for the past year now and Protected Areas Manager Mario Muschamp reports that it has been extremely helpful for planning patrols! Information from past patrols and infractions is stored in SMART and is then mapped out, revealing which areas rangers need to focus their patrol efforts on, making enforcement much more efficient!
The above map was created using SMART data from previous ranger patrols in PHMR and highlights which areas patrol efforts should be focused on
SMART has been so successful that we are now expanding its use in our terrestrial management as well. TIDE rangers were recently trained for implementation of the system in Payne's Creek National Park and the TIDE Private Protected Lands in the coming year. Read all about the training here!