Fishackathon 2016 Manila: Leveraging technology to save and protect marine resources

Over 10 percent of the world’s population depends on fisheries and agriculture for their livelihood and for many people, fish is a major source of protein in their diet.  Yet, these vital resources are continuously threatened by overfishing, illegal fishing, climate change, water pollution, and other dangers to marine life. 

This situation prompted the US government to come out with Fishackathon in 2014 to tap the expertise of tech-savvy individuals through a two-day coding marathon aimed at developing apps that could benefit sustainable fisheries and the communities that they support. 

From just a handful of US cities during its first year, Fishackathon 2016 has expanded to 42 cities in six continents which included Manila given that the issue is very relevant to an island nation like the Philippines.

“The fish that the people rely on for food, the coastal areas which are so vulnerable to typhoons and water surges, eco-tourism, climate change, effects of pollution to coral reefs -- these are extremely important to the Philippines and that’s why we want to use your talent to help address these concerns. We know firsthand the efficiency and innovation that the tech sector can bring to the table in approaching one of the world’s biggest problems,” US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg told the participants during his opening remarks at Fishackathon Manila hosted by Globe Telecom over the weekend.

He added:  “We have to work together.  All the countries in the world should help protect our planet because this is something that will affect the succeeding generations, the economy, and the way people live. If we don’t do this, we’re all going to suffer.”

On the other hand, Glenn Estrella, Globe Vice President for Digital Ventures rallied everyone to make a difference both for the Philippines and the world even as he noted that Globe strongly supports the use of technology in saving and preserving the environment.

“Like any innovation, technology and marine protection are like two different ideas that come together.  Greater ideas are born from the joining of the minds.  I see the telecommunications industry evolve and it is very exciting to see what we can do to improve everyone’s lives.  This hackathon is not about popularity or how many people will use the app but it is about solving a problem,” said Estrella.  “We would like to see more partnerships and events on other grassroots topics.  We need more activities that touch more people.”

Globe is currently very active in its sustainability campaign to create a #WonderfulPH through positive societal impact with the use of modern technology.  It has ongoing eco-tourism partnerships with  PUSOD on protection and enhancement of Taal Lake in Batangas ecosystem; Save Philippine Seas on protection of thresher sharks through engagement and education of community stakeholders in Malapascua, Cebu; Sangkalikasan Producers Cooperative on the establishment of an environment hotline center in Boracay, Malay, Aklan; and Casa San Miguel on livelihood opportunities for those living along the coastal barangays of San Antonio, Zambales.

Fishackathon 2016 Manila was a joint effort by the US Embassy Manila, US Agency for International Development (USAID), mobile content marketing firm Tone, and Globe Telecom. 

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