How a mobile app facilitated a technological revolution in the Peruvian artisanal fishing sector

TrazApp gains acceptance in Peru

A cluster of small Peruvian fishing boats colored blue, green, yellow, and white that are moored in a secluded harbor on a hazy day.

Paper forms and handwritten records still predominate in most of the data collection and reporting systems used by fisheries around the world. Among Peru's small-scale artisanal fisheries, even those simpler record-keeping methods were mostly nonexistent. Around 62% of the artisanal fishing fleet in Peru does not have a valid fishing permit, making it difficult to verify the origin and legality of products.

With the rise in international demand for seafood products from Peru, particularly from the United States, more Peruvian fisheries are seeking to align with increasingly strict international requirements and standards for seafood to keep their livelihoods sustainable.

Beginning in 2016, mahi-mahi and giant squid fishers in Peru formed fishing co-op groups and began working with WWF on fishery improvement projects to comply with Peruvian regulations in the hopes of being issued fishing permits that would help them sell their catch within Peru and beyond. To meet these governmental regulations, fishers would have to adopt a digital catch documentation system to record their catch and share this data with the government.

To facilitate the flow of information, WWF co-developed a mobile application called TrazApp with fishers, government, and other supply chain actors, and has been training fishers across three fishing co-ops in northern Peru—La Tortuga, La Islilla, and San José—to use it.

What is TrazApp?

The rear view of a large blue industrial fishing boat on the water

TrazApp is a mobile app that serves as a traceability solution and tracks a seafood product from "bait to plate." The app was designed to generate reliable information in real-time and is user-friendly so that anyone within the supply chain, regardless of their function, can easily access and share information. Approximately 1,500 fishers have been piloting WWF's TrazApp in Peru and are now actively digitally recording and reporting their catch. It's helping to keep fishers and others involved in the process accountable and decrease the flow of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing products that inundate international markets. TrazApp can also provide helpful data on fish stocks that can be used to conduct important assessments, improve fisheries management, and aid conservation efforts.

Peruvian fishers that successfully adopted this mobile app and used it to comply with Peruvian regulations were able to apply for fishing permits. Many did so for the very first time and those that secured those permits were finally able to legally fish in the waters they had worked in their entire lives.

TrazApp is also being embraced as a safety tool for fishing communities. The app tracks a fisher's location and gives loved ones the ability to trace their voyage which can be helpful for long trips. With this resource, families who have traditionally had no way to know if their family members were safe at sea, now hold that vital information in the palm of their hands via a smartphone. Sustainability and traceability initiatives can only flourish with the help of fishers and TrazApp enables their protection at sea.

For Manuel Purizaca of the La Tortuga fishing cooperative, TrazApp has proven to be invaluable. "Thanks to WWF training, all members of the cooperative have been successfully encouraged to take part in this experience. It is gratifying that in a small-town center, there are initiatives such as this one that allows us to move forward."

WWF is looking into how this technology can be replicated in other parts of the world, to help other small-scale fishing communities. As TrazApp gains acceptance in Peru, it will be tested further along the supply chain. One day, consumers might even be able to access information about where their mahi-mahi is coming from, thanks to TrazApp.