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In Greenland, fish catches are now digital


Local fishermen, fisheries consultants and Royal Greenland have joined forces on taking a digital quantum leap in the registration and settlement of fishermen's catches – and it’s all done by mobile phone.

Every day, several hundred fishermen bring in their catches to one of Royal Greenland's catch landing facilities along the west coast of Greenland. At the end of a fishing trip, each fisherman brings his boat into the quayside, contacts the catch landing team, completes the paperwork and waits for the catch to be weighed and registered, which often involves waiting in line with other fishermen.

To improve service to the many fishermen and optimise registration, in 2019 Royal Greenland’s IT department set to work on developing a better solution. After workshops, mapping of sub-processes and conversations with fishermen and fisheries consultants, they started developing a catch landing application for mobile phones. 

Solution based on user-friendliness and data security

Lars Bo Hassinggaard, head of Group IT at Royal Greenland, describes how the development work took two years from first idea to implementation: “In a modern food producing company, there’s a lot of data and registration that we have to get right. We need to focus on the entire process, of which the first step is the fisherman's registration of his catch and position in the app, out in the fishing grounds. At the catch landing facility, the catch is weighed, registered and quality assured by the catch landing teams. Finally, the data is collected in a web application for transmission to the underlying IT systems. From here, the data is also sent to Greenland’s Fisheries Licence Control Authority (GFLK). Finally, the fisherman receives an account statement directly in his app, with details of the value and weight of the catch.

Lars Bo is very pleased with the feedback from the fishermen who so far have signed up for the system: “The best thing is that the new app makes our suppliers’ lives easier, and that we can streamline the work process and minimise errors.

Sceptical, but now enthusiastic

The app has been developed especially for coastal fishing using small vessels and dinghies, and currently 35 fishermen have signed up in Ilulissat. They include Henrik Jensen, who fishes from a dinghy. He has been involved since the app was implemented in November, so he could give input in the initial phase. He made good use of this opportunity.

I was sceptical at first, and didn’t really think there was any need for an app. But today, I’m glad to be able to use it,” says Henrik Jensen, who adds: “I don't have to go to the catch landing office to do all the paperwork. I come into the harbour with my catch and go home right afterwards, after which I soon receive the results for my catch, showing how much it's worth. It's good to be able to see how my catch figures are developing, and all the paperwork has been eliminated. You get on ongoing overview of your entire catch, and all the account statements are stored in one place, so you can send them to your accountant or administrator from the app,” Henrik Jensen explains.

Henrik has also contributed to the adjustment of the app to his needs as a fisherman: “For example, I helped to make the suggestion that the phone numbers of the catch handling team should be included in the app. It's a question of compiling as much information as possible in one place,” he says.

Henrik Jensen, who fishes from a dinghy, has already become fond of the app: “I don't have to go to the catch landing office to do all the paperwork. I come into the harbor with my catch and go home right afterwards, after which I soon receive the results for my catch, showing how much it's worth.

Teams are happy

Maren Jensen, harbour foreman, and Freyja Jensen, part of the administration team for catch landing at Royal Greenland in llulissat, confirm that the fishermen are pleased with the app: “It's going really well. The really big difference is that the fishermen no longer have to come into the harbour when they land their catches. They just need to deliver the catch, which we collect, weigh and grade, and then we enter our own data. The fisherman can attend to all their other chores, such as cleaning the boat and getting ready for a new fishing trip. This saves time for everyone,” explains Maren Jensen, who has been involved in developing the app for around six months.

Freyja Jensen acknowledges that sometimes there were errors in the manual data entry: “Forms completed manually can be difficult to decipher, and it takes longer to enter and double check the data. Now, we just need to enter the weight and quality. The app and the underlying system take care of the rest.

More fishermen to use the app

Edvard Olsen, a fisheries consultant in Ilulissat, is pleased with the current implementation. Edvard has been involved in the app's development since February 2019: “I attended a workshop in Aarhus, so it’s good to see such a positive response. So far, 35 users have signed up, but in high season as many as 100 fishermen in Ilulissat alone may start to use the app, and there’s plenty of interest.

He reports that primarily the younger fishermen have welcomed the app: “The older generation are a bit more hesitant, but we also expect them to get started, once they see how easy it is to use the system. I can see how fishermen are keen to see the size of their catches, and how much they’ve earned. This is the tool of the future. I’m really proud that Royal Greenland has developed this app.

Lars Bo Hassinggaard also sees the app as the tool of the future for many fishermen, since it will be implemented elsewhere along the coast: “We expect to include fishermen in Uummannaq in January-February, followed by Upernavik. We’re working hard to introduce the solution along the entire coast, but you’ve got to remember that Greenland is a big country,” says Lars Bo Hassinggaard with a smile.

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