(Featured image: bait fish in net in the Maldives. Credit Hani Amir, used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Oceana, SkyTruth and Google Launch Global Fishing Watch, First Free, Online Tool to Reveal Commercial Fishing Activity Worldwide – New Tech Platform Now Available to the Public
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, September 15th Oceana, SkyTruth and Google launched the public Beta of Global Fishing Watch, a new online technology platform that allows anyone in the world free access to monitor and track the activities of the world’s largest commercial fishing vessels in near real-time. By providing the first free global view of commercial fishing*, Global Fishing Watch delivers a powerful and unprecedented tool that can help to rebuild fish stocks and protect our oceans, which are threatened by global overfishing, illegal fishing and habitat destruction. The announcement was made in conjunction with the Our Ocean Conference in Washington, D.C., an international gathering of ocean leaders hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry.
The product of a partnership between Oceana, SkyTruth and Google, Global Fishing Watch is an intuitive and free interactive online tool that shows the apparent fishing activity of 35,000 (and counting) commercial fishing vessels operating throughout the world. The platform is regularly updated to show vessel tracks and fishing activity from January 1, 2012 through three days prior to present time. By sharing this critical information publicly for the first time, Global Fishing Watch will have immeasurable and wide-ranging positive impacts on ocean health. From allowing fishery managers to better understand and manage fishing activity in their waters to aiding enforcement agencies in deterring illegal fishing, Global Fishing Watch is a powerful tool to help restore our oceans.
“Global Fishing Watch will revolutionize the way the world views commercial fishing,” said Jacqueline Savitz, Vice President for the United States and Global Fishing Watch at Oceana. “Now, in the hands of everyone, this free tool can be used by governments, journalists, citizens, researchers and the seafood industry. It will allow governments to track suspicious vessels, enforce rules and reduce seafood fraud. Journalists and everyday citizens will be able to identify behavior that may be related to illegal fishing or overfishing. Global Fishing Watch is a powerful tool in the fight against illegal fishing and has tremendous potential to preserve and protect our world’s delicate marine ecosystem for generations to come.”
Global Fishing Watch uses public broadcast data from the Automatic Identification System (AIS), collected by satellite and terrestrial receivers, to show the movement of vessels over time. Every day, more than 20 million data points are added to AIS. Global Fishing Watch uses this information to track vessel movement and classify it as “fishing” or “non-fishing” activity.
“Working with Oceana and Google has enabled us to take a good idea and build it into something that will improve the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the planet,” said John Amos, President and Founder of SkyTruth. “Global Fishing Watch will catalyze the science, policy-making and public pressure necessary to make our oceans sustainable.”
Global Fishing Watch is collaborating with governments, private industry, and scientific and international agencies to enable additional transparency and sustainability policies. Indonesia, a leader in fisheries reform and management, has committed to making all of their registered fishing vessels with trackers public to the world through the platform because they believe so strongly in transparency. Trace Register, the leading traceability solution provider for the global seafood industry, is working with Global Fishing Watch to enable its customers to verify that their seafood was legally and responsibly produced.
Armed with new global datasets and access to massive cloud computing resources, leading scientific institutions around the world are collaborating in the Global Fishing Watch Research Program to model economic, environmental, policy and climate change implications on fisheries. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is exploring new methodologies to more accurately report global vessel registries and fishery statistics and will be proposing transparency tools to support States in improving their monitoring, control and surveillance of fishing activities.
“While many of the environmental trends in the ocean can be sobering, the combination of cloud computing, machine learning, and massive data is enabling new tools to visualize, understand and potentially reverse these trends,” said Brian Sullivan, Sr. Program Manager at Google Ocean & Earth Outreach. “We are excited to contribute a Google-scale approach toward ocean sustainability and public awareness.”
Funding partners for Global Fishing Watch include the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, Marisla Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The Wyss Foundation, The Waterloo Foundation and Adessium Foundation.
To use Global Fishing Watch or to learn more, visit GlobalFishingWatch.org.
Oceana – Oceana is the largest international advocacy organization dedicated solely to ocean conservation. Oceana is rebuilding abundant and biodiverse oceans by winning science-based policies in countries that control one third of the world’s wild fish catch. With over 100 victories that stop overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution and killing of threatened species like turtles and sharks, Oceana’s campaigns are delivering results. A restored ocean means that one billion people can enjoy a healthy seafood meal, every day, forever. Together, we can save the oceans and help feed the world. To learn more, visit www.oceana.org.
SkyTruth – SkyTruth is a nonprofit organization using remote sensing and digital mapping to create stunning images that expose the environmental impact of natural resource extraction and other human activities. We use satellite imagery and geospatial data to create compelling and scientifically credible visuals and resources to inform environmental advocates, policy-makers, the media, and the public. To learn more, visit SkyTruth.org.
Google – Google Earth Outreach is a team dedicated to leveraging and developing Google’s infrastructure to address environmental and humanitarian issues through partnerships with non-profits, educational institutions, and research groups. To learn more, visit earth.google.com/outreach.
*Any and all references to “fishing” should be understood in the context of Global Fishing Watch’s fishing detection algorithm, which is a best effort to determine “apparent fishing activity” based on vessel speed and direction data from the Automatic Identification System (AIS) collected via satellites and terrestrial receivers. As AIS data varies in completeness, accuracy and quality, it is possible that some fishing activity is not identified and conversely, that some fishing activity identified is not fishing. For these reasons, Global Fishing Watch qualifies all designations of vessel fishing activity, including synonyms of the term “fishing activity,” such as “fishing” or “fishing effort,” as “apparent,” rather than certain. Any/all Global Fishing Watch information about “apparent fishing activity” should be considered an estimate and must be relied upon solely at your own risk. Global Fishing Watch is taking steps to make sure fishing activity designations are as accurate as possible.