The COVID-19 global pandemic has disrupted life as we know it and the economic impacts of it are expected to be just as severe, if not worse. Fiji has not been insulated from this impact with key sectors affected, including the fisheries industry.

This situation compounds the challenges already facing Fiji’s fisheries industry – declining catches, lack of raw materials for processing factories, cheap lower quality imports, climate change impacts, and the increasing cost of doing business.

Some commentators believe that post COVID-19 the ways of doing business will have changed and we believe that the fisheries industry too must evolve. The industry and Government agencies must embrace digital transformation by moving manual recordkeeping onto digital platforms.

Benefits of digital transformation

Digital transformation in Fiji’s fisheries industry can start simply by digitising (making electronic) paper forms and manual processes between the Ministry of Fisheries and fishing companies.

This would easily achieve savings, in time and costs, of at least 40% and would greatly enhance service delivery. What this would mean for fishing companies is that they would get quality timely service for the permit fees they pay for and will save costs of staff having to prepare, lodge applications, and collect permits. For the Ministry, their staff would spend less time pushing paper and can divert that to higher value fisheries tasks.

Seafood supply chains rely heavily on paper documents – licenses, permits, packing lists, bills of lading, etc. COVID-19 has shown the weakness in this reliance especially if people cannot be in their workplaces to process these paper documents. This is where electronic processes would be beneficial.

Working with our clients we have been able to digitise their processing operations to the extent that data can be captured from the fishing vessel all the way through to the processing factory. Carton labels, packing lists, invoices can all be generated automatically from the data. Importers/distributors can be connected on our digital platform to access all this automatically. In the near future our fisheries mobile app will allow greater flexibility for companies to have insight on their data.

Permit applications – a low hanging fruit for digital transformation

In conversations with fishing and processing companies, the single-most common “issue” raised is the permitting process – it is manual and slow, taking up time and costing money for both fishing companies and the Ministry.

Since 2018, we have advocated for digitising this process with both the Ministry and the industry. We have a digital solution that allows fishing companies to apply for permits and the Ministry to process it – all electronically. This can be implemented within weeks at very little cost.

If the entire fishing industry took the time to do a cost-benefit analysis of digitising a process like the permits it would realise that they could cut costs in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Contact us if you’d like to learn more about how we can help your business transform digitally to meet the future demands of trade.