Status: 04/01/2023 8:00 p.m
It must be an important issue when a delegation of nine Senegalese travels to Heligoland, including two employees from the Ministry of Fisheries and the Environment in Dakar and two fishermen. There is also a fisherman from Büsum. They came to the island at the invitation of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) – to learn about a new measurement method that is supposed to provide important data on climate change.
Mamadou Sarr is 63 years old and was born in Senegal. He is a fisherman, drives his small boat out onto the Atlantic off Dakar almost every day – and all too often comes back without a catch. The reason: The sea surface is getting warmer and warmer due to climate change, but the schools of fish tend to stay in the cool water. And these cool layers of water are lower and lower.
For this reason, the AWI, with the support of the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), has developed a small, inexpensive sensor that can be used to measure water temperature, currents and the salinity of the water, among other things. The idea behind it: The handling of this sensor is so easy that it can also be left ten meters under water by non-scientists – by people like Mamadou Sarr. In the future, he will take the sensor on board with him on his daily trips out to sea and collect data during his work.
Test off Helgoland
Therefore, on Thursday afternoon, two fishermen and a scientist will board the Aade, an AWI research ship, from the port of Heligoland. Ibrahima Camara as project coordinator and the fishermen Mamadou Sarr and Stephan Frentz. The Senegalese Ibrahima Camara developed the idea for the sensor together with the AWI. The sensor is shaped like a ballpoint pen and is only slightly larger. As the ship slowly moves towards the dune, Ibrahima Camara attaches the sensor to a long rope, ties it and hands it to fisherman Mamadou Sarr. The ship stops and Ibrahima Camara instructs the fisherman to slowly lower the sensor into the water. After a few seconds, the sensor is no longer visible. After a minute, Mamadou Sarr slowly pulls the sensor out again.
Ease of use is important
Especially in the area of the Global South, there is significantly less data in some scientific disciplines than, for example, in the area of the German North Sea coast. Therefore, further sensors should go to Tunisia, among other places. But data will also be collected here on site with the help of the new sensor.
That’s what Stefan Frentz is there for. He went to sea for 26 years. Before Büsum he fished for crabs. The work hasn’t paid off for too long. Because he can only catch crabs in dark water, either in cloudy water or at night. But the summer nights are short and cloudy water is rare. He says: “Times aren’t getting any better for the fishermen. But as you can see, it’s the same all over the world.” Because it’s no longer profitable, he recently had to give up his job. But he will also be on the road in front of Büsum in the future to collect data for the AWI with the help of the new sensor.
Direct benefit for fishermen
With the help of the collected data, a kind of forecast app for the fishermen will be created in the future – so that Mamadou Sarr already knows before the trip whether the work that day will be worthwhile for him at all. It is exciting for both fishermen to learn about the different ways of working. This becomes apparent when a shrimp cutter sails past the research ship Aade. For Stephan Frentz, this is rather a small ship. For Mamadou Sarr, however, the shrimp boat is huge. Ships of this size are rare among fishermen in Senegal, he says. In addition to the data, this is also an important project goal: offering personal exchange opportunities, creating interest in the work and life reality of others. And show that science can connect.