Global Fishing Watch: Bringing Transparency to Global Commercial Fisheries

Wessley Merten, Adam Reyer, Jackie Savitz, John Amos, Paul Woods, Brian Sullivan

Across all major industrial fishing sectors, overfishing due to overcapacity and lack of compliance in fishery governance has led to a decline in biomass of many global fish stocks. Overfishing threatens ocean biodiversity, global food security, and the livelihoods of law abiding fishermen. To address this issue, Global Fishing Watch (GFW) was created to bring transparency to global fisheries using computer science and big data analytics. A product of a partnership between Oceana, SkyTruth and Google, GFW uses the Automatic Identification System, or AIS, to analyze the movement of vessels at sea. AIS provides vessel location data, and GFW uses this information to track global vessel movement and apply algorithms to classify vessel behavior as "fishing" or "non-fishing" activity. Now publicly available, anyone with an internet connection can monitor when and where trackable commercial fishing appears to be occurring around the world. Hundreds of millions of people around the world depend on our ocean for their livelihoods, and many more rely on it for food. Collectively, the various applications of GFW will help reduce overfishing and illegal fishing, restore the ocean's abundance, and ensure sustainability through better monitoring and governance of our marine resources.

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