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Artificial Intelligence harnessed to protect marine mammals
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Artificial Intelligence harnessed to protect marine mammals

Pilot project aims to prevent whale entanglements

SOUTH AFRICA: A pilot project along South Africa’s West Coast is using cameras and hydrophones to alert mussel farmers in the Saldanha Bay Aquaculture Development Zone (SBADZ) to the presence of whales and activate the ADZ Incident and Emergency Response Protocol in the case of an entanglement.

Vodacom, in partnership with WWF South Africa have partnered to provide the AI-based technology solution to safeguard marine mammals against entanglements.

Beyond its ability to prevent whale entanglements, the early warning system will also be used to gather scientific data by recording the movement of marine life and could help to prevent ship strikes for other superpods, such as seals and dolphins.

Once the pilot project has been completed in Saldanha Bay, the solution can be expanded to other coastal areas and fisheries.

According to WWF, whales have a vital role to play in the overall health of the marine environment; helping to capture carbon from the atmosphere. Estimates are that each great whale sequesters an estimated 33 tons of CO2 on average, thus playing their part in the fight against climate change. Unfortunately, six out of the 13 great whale species are classified as endangered or vulnerable, even after decades of protection. 

“Rope-grown mussels are a fantastic source of sustainable seafood. All efforts to ensure that this industry remains on our WWF-SASSI green list are to be welcomed. We are delighted that Vodacom has chosen to put the time, efforts and resources into this pilot project which has great potential to scale elsewhere in other Aquaculture Development Zones around the coast,” notes Pavitray Pillay, WWF-SASSI Manager, WWF South Africa.

This project builds on the significant role digital technology already plays in the sustainable seafood supply chain and ocean stewardship. Vodacom’s collaboration with the WWF in developing digital tools to support the WWF Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (WWF-SASSI) is being used to drive ocean conservation, sustainable seafood consumption and ocean literacy.

An example of this is the WWF-SASSI Fish ID digital platform which helps consumers and those in the seafood industry to make informed choices about the best choice of seafoods, such as farmed mussels which are on the SASSI green list.

“As part of our commitment to ensuring we have a healthy planet for generations to come and accelerating the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, Vodacom has been working with the WWF to help conserve this precious (ocean) resource through our capabilities as a technology provider, says Sitho Mdlalose, Chief Executive Officer, Vodacom South Africa.


PHOTO SOURCE: Adobe Photostock

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