Games tipped to win fight to save SA’s oceans


Chief Executive Officer of Sea Monster, Clenn Gillis

from DION HENRICK in Cape Town
Western Cape Bureau
CAPE TOWN, (CAJ News) – SOME technology advancements, in the form of games, could prove critical in the fight to protect South Africa’s rich oceans.

The oceans are at the mercy of inadequate and illicit practices.

A tech executive lamented that these oceans, like others around the world, are under grave threat from overfishing, poaching and other illicit marine activities.

Clenn Gillis, Chief Executive Officer of Sea Monster, explained that this represents a danger to entire ecosystems below and above the water and also to livelihoods and the economy as a whole.

Marine poaching is also enriching violent criminal gangs.

Gillis said as such, new and innovative approaches were needed for the prevention, detection and prosecution of illegal maritime activities.

“Fortunately, impact games can offer a helping hand,” he said.

“The potential for games to serve a role in this space isn’t simple conjecture,” Gillis said.

He said custom impact games had helped train people in a broad range of industries in ways that are fun, engaging and which help people better retain the information that they have learned.

“We also know that games can be extremely useful when it comes to training the officials who are charged with protecting our oceans,” said Gillis.

Sea Monster has built a game to support Nelson Mandela University’s FishFORCE programme, which trains fisheries control officers and inspectors.

FIshFORCE: Bridge Inspection is a game that simulates the daily routine of fisheries crime officers. Through the course of the game, players are taken through various scenarios, such as permit inspections, how to properly inspect a vessel, and filing out the correct documentation for reporting a crime.

“In many ways, the game transforms training into a detective experience underpinned by fun and curiosity,” Gillis explained.

He nonetheless concedes a single game is not going to save South Africa’s oceans on its own but is proud of the collaboration with FishFORCE.

South Africa’s oceans play a prominent role in the country’s economy.

The fishing sector contributes around R6 billion to the country’s economy every year and employs approximately 30 000 people.

The country’s broader “blue economy” is forecast to be worth up to R177 billion by 2033 and could create some 800 000 jobs in the same period.

In addition, the oceans are a tourist attraction.

There are two oceans around South Africa, namely the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, which converge at the Cape Agulhas.

– CAJ News