iPêche: an application to identify your fish

iFishing: an application to identify your fish


Fishermen will have access in 2023 to iPêche, an innovative phone application that will almost certainly allow them to identify the fish caught thanks to artificial intelligence.

< p>A group at the Ministry of the Environment, Wildlife and Parks (MELCCFP) developed the concept five years ago.

“We had the idea of ​​developing a tool for identifying high-performance fish using current technologies,” explains biologist Yves Paradis, head of the St. Lawrence River division, in a conference for Quebec government employees available on Youtube.

“Identification seems simple, but it is a complex science, at the base of the mission of our ministry. It is essential for fishermen to enable them to understand the regulations and the fishing offer in Quebec's water bodies. But it is also very interesting for reporting species in a precarious situation or invasive species,” adds Mr. Paradis.

The algorithm was developed to be very efficient. For the same species, many photos were used.


With the help of the Center for Digital Imaging and Interactive Media (CIMMI), the ministry therefore “quickly got on the trail of artificial intelligence to recognize species from photos. When we started the project five years ago, it (the AI) was much less developed”, specifies the biologist.

The latter explains that photo recognition requires many images to train the 'algorithm.

“We started first in Google images, doing massive downloads of hundreds of files at a time. Each image was rotated in different directions to ensure that the development of the algorithm was going to be very robust to different photo-taking contexts.” 

“We quickly realized that it was extremely powerful, that it had a very high potential to become a very credible tool in terms of identification”, says Yves Paradis.

The application almost certainly makes it possible to identify the fish caught thanks to artificial intelligence.

It works too well

The team therefore decided to move from a tool for recognizing species popular with fishermen, to a more complete inventory of all biodiversity in Quebec's fresh waters.

“It involved to look for photos of much less photographed species. After several years of work, we managed to have an algorithm of 125 species built on approximately 38,000 photos,” reveals Mr. Paradis.

The algorithm was tested on a set of 4000 photos not included in the 38 000 of its database.

The algorithm always gives three choices for each photo that the user tries to identify . In 95% of cases the program found the right species from its first choice. The success rate rises to 99% with the three suggestions.

Last step

Convinced by the efficiency of the algorithm, it was decided to move from a research project to a consumer application. This is where iPêche was born.

Explorers from the other side of the world can rest assured that the application is self-supporting. By downloading it – it makes a hundred megs – it works offline, without the need to send the photos taken by the fisherman to a server. 

And the large amount of images in its database of data ensures that even if your photo contains “noise”, such as hands holding fish, the algorithm is able to ignore it.

In addition, identification is done quickly. “The sinews of war in such an application is the calculation speed. We had credible results under the 10-12 second mark for a first identification. Then it’s under a second”, reveals Yves Paradis.

Complete solution

If the species identification is the most innovative aspect of the application, it goes even further. It also contains other information such as the description of the species, its distribution, its interest in sport fishing and the regulations in particular.

Finally, it allows the creation of a fisherman's notebook, the recording catches and reporting catches to the Ministry on a voluntary basis to update the databases. 

In this way, the initiators also hope to arrive at the early detection of invasive species that are found at the gates of Quebec for which the ministry -and the fishermen -want increased monitoring.

Yves Paradis does not hesitate not to say that “there are not many consumer applications distributed by the Quebec government. We had to hit the trails.”

Available soon

The application, which will be free, is currently in the approval phase with the platforms of AppStore and Google Play distribution.

Daniel Labonté, public relations officer at the MELCCFP, hopes that iPêche will be available for the next season, stressing however that “there are imponderables specific to the development of such an application.”

“The ministry is aiming for the first year of reach 5% of anglers, which would mean 38,000 downloads. It's an ambitious goal, but we believe that if the product is developed and meets the needs of the clientele, it's achievable,” believes Mr. Paradis.

Questioned, the MELCCFP indicated that there are currently no plans to create such an application for the terrestrial fauna, avian or flora of Quebec.


  • Free application working offline
  • Lists the 125 freshwater species in Quebec
  • The fisherman takes a picture of his fish and has it analyzed by iPêche
  • iPêche makes 3 suggestions
  • The first one is 95% correct
  • Effectiveness is 99% with 3 suggestions
  • Database of 38,000 photos
  • Will be launched in 2023
  • Will contribute to the early detection of invasive species