Making Headlines: We’re On to Something!

It’s been less than two years since we first demonstrated the Global Fishing Watch prototype in public, and the media coverage hasn’t stopped. Since announcing the prototype we’ve been featured in more than 100 publications on six continents, from the Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal and International Business Times to media outlets in Russia, China, France, Argentina, South Africa, Australia and more. The attention is not only exciting, but extremely encouraging.

Our Chief Technology Officer, Paul Woods, puts it this way; “The fact that you have so many people talking about Global Fishing Watch, a product that isn’t even available yet, is an indicator that there is a huge unmet need. There is a need for something that doesn’t exist yet.”

In February, 2016, an article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine opened with a cinematic recounting of one particular day in our offices.

Late on a January 2015 evening in Shepherdstown, W.Va., a data analyst named Bjorn Bergman, surrounded by whiteboards scribbled with computer code, was orchestrating a high-stakes marine police chase halfway around the world.
-Palau vs. the Poachers, NY Times Magazine.

The story, which focused on illegal fishing, went on to describe the coordination of an international effort to track and capture the Shin Jyi Chyuu 33, a vessel we had discovered fishing without permission in the waters off Palau. Other media coverage has included commentary in National Geographic Voices, by conservation technologist and Emerging Explorer Shah Selbe who wrote:

The methods that we traditionally relied upon (to manage marine reserves) can no longer meet these protection needs, so there currently exists a massive demand for new tools and fresh ideas. . . The Global Fishing Watch prototype looks to be a great tool, and a strong step in the right direction when it comes to ocean information.

In a feature article in WIRED, W. Wayt Gibbs wrote:

Large commercial fishers are about to get a new set of overseers: conservationists—and soon the general public—armed with space-based reconnaissance of the global fleet. . . . now environmentalists are using sophisticated technology of their own to peel away that cloak of invisibility.

In addition to filling an unmet need, as Paul described, the  global recognition brought to the table by Google and Oceana have helped launch us into the headlines at a time of rising awareness and excitement for protecting our ocean resources. In the past three years alone, high-profile celebrities and philanthropic organizations such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Paul Allen, the Packard Foundation and the Walton Family fund have collectively contributed tens of millions of dollars to ocean conservation and fisheries management.

Political recognition for ocean issues has also gained momentum in recent years. In 2008, the United Nations officially recognized June 8th as World Oceans Day, and in February 2014 President Obama established the world’s largest fully protected marine reserve in the central Pacific Ocean.

“It’s great to see that people agree with us that this is a big deal,” says Paul, noting that it’s more than just a shot in the spotlight. We know what we’re doing is exciting, and we know it’s important, but a part of what’s so valuable about Global Fishing Watch lies in the crowdsourcing capability. Media attention like this is the best recruitment tool for users who are going to help elevate this platform to become one of the most robust resources for monitoring commercial fishing on the world’s oceans.

We’re excited to see that happen.

Below is a brief selection of the many articles that have featured Global Fishing Watch.

2016 (January-April)

Business Wire: Global Fishing Watch Enables Clear View of Fishing in Marine Protected Areas

Yale Environment 360: How Satellites and Big Data Can Help to Save the Oceans

Christian Science Monitor: SkyTruth spots environmental problems from space

Wall Street Journal: Indonesia Takes Explosive Approach to Illegal Fishing

New York Times Sunday Magazine: Palau Vs. the Poachers

2015

National Geographic: Tiny Team Uses Satellites to Bust Illegal Fishing Worldwide

National Geographic:11 Ways Technology Stops Crime Against Endangered Animals

EcoWatch: 15 Huge Ocean Conservation Victories of 2015

The Guardian: To catch a fishing thief, SkyTruth uses data from the air, land and sea

The Huffington Post: Check Out Google’s New Tool for Monitoring Global Fishing

BBC World News Radio Podcast: The Ocean Economy

GovInsider: Open Dataset of the Week: Illegal fishing in Indonesia

Jakarta Post: Government Set to Improve Commercial Fishing Transparency

Fast Company: Inside The Satellite Detective Agencies That Catch The Companies Destroying The Planet—From Space

New York Times: Mapping the World’s Problems

Christian Science Monitor: How to free modern slaves: Three tech solutions that are working

2014

Wall Street Journal: Google, Partners Target Illegal Fishing with New Technology

Wired: The Plan to Map Illegal Fishing from Space

The Atlantic: Tracking Fishy Behavior from Space

PRI/BCC “The World”: (Radio) Google is teaming up with environmental groups to help fight illegal fishing

CNN: (Video): New Tool Monitors “Pirate” Fishing Boats

CBSN:CBS News: New System to Combat Global Overfishing

Bloomberg: Commercial Fishing Far Out Sea & Over the Horizon – Until Now

Forbes: Google Helps Map Illegal Fishing

Examiner.com: Setting the Watchdogs on Illegal Fishing with Global Fishing Watch

International Business Times: Google-Backed Satellite Project Aims To Track, Eliminate Illegal Fishing Around The World

Maritime Executive: New Google Tool to Track Global Fisheries: Global Fishing Watch provides an unprecedented view of human interaction with the ocean.”