The Southern African Inland Fish Tracking Program (FISHTRAC) has been locally developed by scientist and engineers in South Africa. This tool uses the fish behaviour to monitor river flow and water quality as the ecosystem’s response to management directive and environmental changes. The tool is applied in real-time and remotely with data accessible through an online dashboard.

The system can incorporate other environmental variables such as flow, electrical conductivity, and water temperature.

The formal use of water resources by the mining, industrial, agricultural, municipal, and other sectors affect the quality and quantity of our aquatic resources. Regulators, researchers, and conservationists all work together to monitor water quality and quantity changes, and the effect of these changes on the well-being of our important resources. Here FISHTRAC alerts managers to changes in fish behaviour as an indication of an altered state of the aquatic resource. This allows managers to investigate the causality of the aquatic ecosystem’s response and mitigate if needed.

How the FISHTRAC program works?

The FISHTRAC program makes use of smart tags with sensors to detect infield environmental conditions and the movement of fish as data. The smart tags send the data in real-time and can receive scheduled changes if needed. In-field receiver stations are strategically positioned on the banks of the river or dam to collect data from the smart tags. Once received the data is automatically uploaded to a Data Management System (DMS) which can be accessed HERE (link to dashboard). The response of ecosystems to changes in ecosystem conditions is then displayed and managers can evaluate the data and response if necessary.

FISHTRAC is currently applied in three provinces in South Africa, the Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal on the Olifants, Sabie, Crocodile, uThukela and uMngeni Rivers. Our group has published extensively on the use of the FISHTRAC program, from its early conception days to today. The FISHTRAC program is ever improving and contributing greatly to the biology and ecology of African fishes and water resource management.

See our publications page HERE. (link to a publication page or ‘heading’ list below with links on the same page) This has included experimentation on African freshwater eels and even freshwater turtles (terrapins).

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