Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
Global Fishing Watch | Technology Illuminating the Global Fishing Fleet

Global Fishing Watch | Technology Illuminating the Global Fishing Fleet

In the last 60 years, the global fishing
fleet has caught 9 out of every 10 large fish. From tuna and swordfish, to flounder, cod and halibut. That’s only ten percent these and other big
fish remaining on the planet… while an international fleet pursues what is left of our collapsing fisheries. And for centuries, what happened over the horizon was invisible to the rest to the world. Out of sight, out of mind. But the tide is turning… By analyzing vessel location data picked
up by satellites, we can shine a light on fishing activity
worldwide. This is the Global Fishing Watch. Global Fishing Watch is a technology partnership between SkyTruth, Oceana, and Google… designed to show all of the trackable fishing activity in the ocean. The prototype uses AIS (Automatic Identification System) to visualize the movements of the global commerical fishing fleet AIS is essentially an automated radio
broadcast containing data about a ship’s identity, GPS location, speed, and direction of
travel; and was primarily designed to help avoid
collisions at sea. But by analyzing this data, we can show the who, where and when of commercial fishing around the world. In this view from the prototype, we’ve filtered the display down to just 100 days of data… and fishing activity from just three of
the world’s major commercial fishing fleets. Fishing activity from Spanish vessels is
displayed in blue, the Japanese fleet in green, and the Korean fleet in red. One thing that you’ll observe is that while
there is some overlap, vessels from these three flag states
generally appear to operate in different parts of the ocean. Compiling this straightforward
visualization from individual AIS records would be extremely tedious but with Global Fishing Watch, it takes
only seconds. Here’s another example. South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. Here you can see a well-defined ring of intense fishing activity all around the
island. In looking at the bathymetry, that terrain map of the ocean floor, the reason why becomes obvious. You can see that these vessels are working the edge of a shelf, on the sea floor. And with Global Fishing Watch you can also dive deeper into the individual identity of these vessels. You can see that we have ships from all around the world, all working this remote island in the southern Atlantic Ocean. In this example, we’re going to look at a single vessel in the Southern Indian Ocean… a Portuguese long liner, the Valmitao. You can easily see the distinctive
pattern of fishing each time they set and retrieve their lines. Each time the AIS shows they are moving slowly out on the high seas in this
back-and-forth pattern we considered each of those data points a
fishing “detection”. With Global Fishing Watch, we can show a heatmap of all the detected fishing activity or connect the dots of AIS data to show whole vessel tracks. Global Fishing Watch is still a
prototype. But we envision the public using this tool to monitor special
places they care about, like PIPA, the Phoenix Islands Protected Area. PIPA is a marine park, similar to the Pacific Remote Islands
Marine National Monument in US waters which was just significantly
expanded by President Obama. Global Fishing Watch will enable the government of Kiribati, and its citizens, to monitor and report on
fishing activity in and around PIPA when the area closes to all commercial fishing, starting January 2015. As you can see, fishing activity inside the protected area has been indistinguishable from activity outside the area. But Global Fishing Watch can act as both a tool for monitoring, and for fishermen to prove that they are
obeying the rules and fishing responsibly. Combined with near real-time satellite data Global Fishing Watch will make fishing
activity more transparent, help citizens and governments better protect their fisheries, and even aid in identifying illegal fishing. Visit for more
information and tell us how you would use this tool to help restore a thriving ocean.

19 comments on “Global Fishing Watch | Technology Illuminating the Global Fishing Fleet

  1. I hope that this will be a consistent trend in BigTech. Like Paul G. Allen's Great Elephant Census, we need to leverage new technology capabilities to avert the extinction of species on this planet of 7 billion+ humans. Thank you for your contributions, and please keep the public aware of your progress.

  2. Congratulations on creating this very effective system for watching the ocean! Let's hope that we can utilize it and enforce the regulations that will enable the fish populations to restore themselves again.

  3. The majority of this date is only going to be used to find out where the fish are at, so that they can be harvested in larger quantities. the people who invented this technology are idiots. most of the countries involved in harvesting these fish are not going to stop, because their countries do not make them stop, the only people in America that are being regulated or the recreational fishermen, the commercial fisherman get to keep as many fish as they want while we the recreational fishermen have to abide by small limits and short seasons. If you think Obama is doing anything to make this better then you're as big of an idiot as the people who invented this technology

  4. Just because a fishing boat is inside a sanctuary doesn't mean they are fishing. They often need to pass through them for safety reasons and many other factors.

  5. ICYMI – Last week we announced big news for ocean conservation and transparency of the global seafood supply chain. #FishingWatch

  6. This will be really helpful because then eventually people will be able to tell where illegally caught fish will be distributed. Then it will be possible to put pressure on the wholesalers and retailers buying these illegally caught fish to stop doing so because people will be able to boycott their offerings.

  7. 90%… NINETY PERCENT of the world's big fish have been fished already! Only 10% remains on the planet. Humanity, man…


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