Entries by Douglas McCauley and Francis Joyce

Whaling off the map

Are whaling vessels that operate without using aids to avoid vessel collision putting the safety of biodiversity and people at risk?   This week the International Whaling Commission (IWC) has convened in Slovenia. The gathering marks the 30th anniversary of the commission’s moratorium on commercial whaling.

Remote Tracking to Improve Shark Conservation

Usually when you want to protect something, you have to know where it is. That sounds like common sense, but when it comes to protecting highly migratory species in the oceans, scientists, conservationists and resource managers are often flying blind. Marine animals such as sharks, turtles, whales and large mid-ocean fish like tuna often traverse […]

Witness to a Crime?

Unusual fleet behavior off West Africa spurs our analyst to investigate Just because something appears suspicious, doesn’t mean laws are being broken. Jumping too quickly to conclusions could embroil a legally operating fishing fleet in unwarranted investigations or accusations. Equally damaging would be to rush in on a crime without solid evidence and lose the […]

Where are the Whalers?

Last week, a visitor to our site asked if Global Fishing Watch can be used to track whaling ships. The short answer is yes, sometimes. At the moment, our machine learning algorithms are being designed to classify three major types of fishing activity—trawling, longlining and purse seining—but some whaling vessels report themselves as “fishing vessels,” […]

Breaking Ground Means Breaking News

It’s been three weeks since we launched Global Fishing Watch, and the new technology platform has created a buzz around the globe from Europe to Southeast Asia, China, Brazil, Costa Rica, Australia and even landlocked parts of the world such as Pakistan and Iran. Users of the map hail from all over as well, and while there’s […]

Exploring a New World of Data with Team Member Aaron Roan

If you’ve grown accustomed to the idea that everything in our world is traceable—from airplanes to cell phones to personal browsing history and purchasing habits—it may seem like a no-brainer that we can use publicly broadcast Automatic Identification System (AIS) signals from ships at sea to find out where they are and what they’re doing. But in […]

Tracking Fish and Ships

Where do sharks and boats cross paths? What about sea turtles and whales? If we knew this, maybe we could reduce the number of vulnerable marine animals that end up entangled  or accidentally caught in fishing gear. After years of monitoring large pelagic sea life with remote tracking devices, researchers have started to build a […]

Partnering to Improve Seafood Traceability

Imagine a vessel captain pulling into port with a cargo hold full of fish. The captain reports the vessel’s identity to the authorities, and his or her entire fishing voyage can be instantly viewed on a screen. The location in which the fish was caught can be verified right there at the dock. The fish […]

Teaching Machines to Tell Us About Fishing

None of what we’re doing at Global Fishing Watch would be possible without the advancements in computing power that have occurred in recent years. The volume of data we work with would have been overwhelming in the past. In one random sample, we observed more than 127,000 vessels over a 24-hour period broadcasting the Automatic […]

New Partnership Expands Our View to Artisanal Fisheries

Today, Global Fishing Watch is focused on tracking commercial-scale fishing fleets, because they are the ones required to carry Automatic Identification Systems that broadcast their information to satellites. But small, artisanal fishing vessels represent another side of the picture that can’t be ignored. Although they often employ low-tech, traditional fishing methods (especially in developing countries), small-boat subsistence fishers […]

What Ports Can Tell Us

Ports provide an important source of information to help us combat Illegal fishing and understand the science and economics of global fisheries. “They serve as the interface between land and sea for fishing vessels,” says Wessley Merten, our data and fisheries analyst at Oceana. “Wherever there’s a port, there’s an interaction. Whether it be offloading […]

Characterizing Gaps in the Data

Just a few years ago the very idea of collecting billions of radio signals from ocean-going vessels all around the world and creating a global map of their activity in near-real time would have been unthinkable. But today’s cloud computing technology allows us to do amazing things with huge amounts of data.