Skylo Brings IoT Connectivity and 2-way Communications to Millions of India’s Fishing Vessels

Ganesh Nakhawa
August 9, 2021

Skylo is growing fast (we’re hiring), and I recently had the honor of hosting a worldwide event to share one of Skylo’s biggest initiatives to date: outfitting India’s fishing vessels with business-boosting, life-saving, two-way narrowband IoT communications.

A fisherman’s tale

“We have a unique opportunity to connect the unconnected,” said Skylo CEO Parth Trivedi,  kicking off the meeting. “Operationally, fishing has been the same for hundreds of years.” 

I know exactly what Parth means. My family has been fishing the waters of the Indian Ocean for seven generations and I deeply understand the need for better, more accessible technology. Only 20 years back, we were navigating by the stars. Today, our biggest challenges are monitoring boats from shore, helping fishermen profit more with each catch, and improving the entire ecosystem for a sustainable future. First things first, we want to keep safe, and know where our boats and teams are when the weather is bad, or a cyclone hits.

Lack of affordable coverage on open waters has made even simple connectivity impossible, a major problem when emergencies occur such as health issues, mechanical problems and critical alerts. Two-way communication has been an even bigger challenge: For boat-to-boat communications in small areas, fishermen can use VHF radio. But reliable and always-on communications have been difficult because satellite phones are very expensive. 

The Skylo solution is exciting because it is affordable, easily accessible to all Indian fishermen, and easy to deploy and use. 

The economic benefits of connectivity

India’s total fishing industry—both aquaculture (farmed) and marine, domestic consumption and exports—is an enormous business. India fisheries alone employ 145 million people and contribute 1.07% of the GDP, generating export earnings of Rs 334.41 billion, according to a recent estimate of National Fisheries Development Board.

Beyond critical safety, Skylo connectivity helps fishers achieve economic benefits including:

  • Better prices for their catch: Skylo’s unique Fish Catch app allows fishers to identify, price and sell their catch from the moment it's caught, maximizing profits by selling directly to buyers in India’s fish markets.
  • Reduced harvest loss: The resulting supply chain efficiencies help dramatically reduce the 30% of caught fish that spoil because they can’t be sold fast enough. 

Saving lives 

Already, Skylo technology has saved over two dozen lives. That’s a very encouraging story that I want you all to be proud of. Skylo provides critical connectivity that allows fishermen to call for help when they need it. 

The marketing team’s outreach efforts to fishermen in their local languages, through WhatsApp and other social channels, and our activation across each state is paying off with a strong, steady uptake stream. Testimonials from fishermen who use Skylo have already rolled in:

  • “Geofencing importance for location of boat and catching specific fish.” -- Joecons Rodrigues, Goa 
  • “Boat owners are navigating boats safely in bad weather and are able to send PFZ [potential fishing zone] information.” -- Ankush Koli, Sassoon Dock, Mumbai
  • “Catch data with group messages helps gather catches of multiple boats in one area and transport fish together in a single boat.” -- Satya Perekar, Alibag, Raigad

A major step toward traceability and sustainability

Looking at the bigger picture, Skylo is a critical piece of the global fisheries sustainability puzzle. Every fishing nation faces the challenge of creating a sustainable and traceable environment. At its most elemental, this means tracking every fish from the moment it’s caught to the moment it’s served. Skylo is solving that challenge.

Skylo’s Fish Catch reporting app allows fishermen to sell their catch while 300 nautical miles out to sea.

Skylo pays for itself with just a single basket of tuna

Ultimately, the goal is about helping fishermen operate more profitably and safely. While saving a life is priceless, we know that catching just an extra basket of shrimp, or a single kingfish, with data from Skylo literally pays for the solution itself. We are modernizing a centuries-old industry, and our goal is to have Skylo serving every fishing boat in India, and around the world.

Check out our YouTube channel to hear what fishermen have to say about Skylo’s breakthrough communications. Follow us on Twitter @SkyloTech to keep up with all of our news.