VMS Layer Now Available in Fishing Activity Map

On World Ocean Day in June 2017, we partnered with Minister Susi Pudjiastuti and the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries to publicly release Indonesian Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data. This was the first ever public release of VMS data.

Previously accessible only in a dedicated public workspace on our site, this data is now available as a layer in the Global Fishing Watch fishing activity map.

What’s the value of this public VMS release? Indonesia’s VMS data includes nearly 5,000 medium-sized commercial fishing vessels that are not required to carry AIS, and are therefore not reliably trackable by any other means. Their inclusion in the Global Fishing Watch database reveals commercial fishing in vast areas of the ocean where it had previously been invisible. For governments such as Indonesia, sharing VMS data with us assists in better monitoring of territorial waters and demonstrates their commitment to transparency.

The overlap between our AIS data and the Indonesian VMS data is less than five percent. Nonetheless, in those rare instances where the same vessel is tracked in both data sets, the addition of VMS data helps us better track the vessel than if we were using the AIS data alone. For those vessels using AIS and VMS, their fishing activity will be duplicated in our map, represented once in each layer.

Indonesian VMS fishing activity highlighted in yellow, AIS fishing is in blue. 

Global Fishing Watch supports complete transparency through the public exchange of VMS data would assist countries in better monitoring their territorial waters and facilitate cooperative regional surveillance and enforcement. Increased transparency will benefit the oceans and the fishing industry by improving management decisions and strategies, and providing market benefits to seafood suppliers through validation of product source.

As part of our effort to increase transparency, we are partnering with the Peruvian Ministry of Production to make Peruvian VMS data public through our platform early next year, and have begun conversations with other nations to do the same. Global Fishing Watch is committed to processing and publishing VMS data from any nation committed to taking this same bold step toward transparency in what remains the among the most opaque sectors of the global economy.

Learn more about:

Adding Nano-Satellite Data Doubles Our Resolution

Today, we are pleased to announce that, through a partnership with Spire Global, Inc, we have doubled the amount of data we use to identify and track nearly 60,000 commercial fishing vessels on the world’s oceans.

Publicly broadcast Automatic Identification System (AIS) messages received by satellites and ground-based receivers comprise the largest source of data in the Global Fishing Watch platform, but gaps in AIS signals can occur in areas where satellite coverage is sparse, or between satellite passes.


The addition of Spire’s Sense, adds approximately 23 million new data points from ground-based receivers and some fifty nano-satellites, to our database every day.  The new data may not be adding more vessels to our database–we already see more than 90 percent of all industrial sized commercial fishing vessels– but it is filling in gaps in coverage and enabling the Global Fishing Watch algorithm to generate more complete vessel tracks.

“The partnership with Spire allows Global Fishing Watch to take advantage of the latest in space-based earth monitoring technology,” said Global Fishing Watch Chief Technology Officer Paul Woods. “Their nanosatellites provide us with a nimble and innovative way to increase the power of our platform to create transparency in the oceans.”

Less expensive and easier to deploy and update than traditional satellites, nano-satellites are becoming increasingly important tool for scientific research. Spire’s satellites are about the size of a wine bottle, and are launched at a rate of nearly four satellites per month. “It’s incredibly exciting to have customers like Global Fishing Watch using Spire Sense,” said Kyle Brazil, Sense’s product manager. “We’re able to simply open an internet browser and see how our data is being used to make a real difference in the world. Global Fishing Watch will be able to take advantage of any improvements that we make to satellites, data, APIs, and analytics offerings, which means we will have an immediate impact on efforts to improve the sustainability of fisheries and protect an important resource that feeds millions of people.”

A Victory for Transparency in Peru

This letter from Andy Sharpless first appeared on Oceana’s blog. Read the Spanish translation here.

I am writing to you from Peru, where I have just witnessed Oceana’s team win an exciting victory. Read more

Year One Opened a New Era of Transparency in Commercial Fishing – What’s Next?

When Global Fishing Watch launched last year, we opened a new era of transparency in commercial fishing. For the first time, an interactive platform for tracking the location and behavior of the largest commercial fishing vessels – and the data that drives it – was made available for free to organizations and individuals to accelerate research and innovation that supports sustainable ocean fisheries. Ocean sustainability is vital if we hope to preserve the world’s supply of wild-caught fish for our growing global population. Read more

Welcome to Our New CEO, Tony Long

Today, Global Fishing Watch has announced the appointment of Tony Long as Chief Executive Officer. Tony becomes the first permanent CEO of Global Fishing Watch. He comes to us from The Pew Charitable Trusts where he directed the End Illegal Fishing Project. Prior to that, he served 27 years in the British Royal Navy where his affinity with the ocean was born.

“We are delighted to welcome Tony Long to the team. His unique mix of skills, experience, and character make him the ideal fit for Global Fishing Watch,” said Brian Sullivan, Chairperson of the Global Fishing Watch Board of Directors. “Tony has a thorough understanding of vessel tracking and related technologies, maritime laws, IUU fishing issues and global geopolitics along with strong leadership experience in nonprofit sector, and I am confident that he is the right person to lead Global Fishing Watch as we continue to scale our impacts and reach since launching in 2016.” Read more

Our Data Suggests Transhippment Involved in Refrigerated Cargo Vessel Just Sentenced to $5.9 Million and Jail Time for Carrying Illegal Sharks

The Ecuadoran government demonstrated a strong commitment to protecting its waters from illegal activity today when it handed down a $5.9 million fine to a Chinese refrigerated cargo vessel owner and a four year prison sentence to its captain for the illegal transport of sharks and shark fins in the protected waters of the Galapagos.

The vessel, Fu Yuan Yu Leng 999 was caught crossing the protected waters of the Galapagos Islands with its illicit cargo on August 13. Authorities and conservation organizations were eager to know where the vessel came from and how they acquired the sharks. Both are questions Global Fishing Watch has been digging into. Read more

Global Fishing Watch Makes a Splash at the UN Ocean Conference

A traditional Fijian welcoming ceremony complete with meke dancing. Giant sculptures of sea creatures made of ocean trash along the East River. Announcements of MPA designations and other commitments to marine conservation by leaders from all over the world. As our Global Fishing Watch team arrived at the United Nations (UN) Headquarters in New York for the first Ocean Conference, we were greeted by these scenes and more. Read more

Global Fishing Watch uses publicly broadcast AIS signals to track fishing vessels. On the Global Fishing Watch heat map, every lighted point represents a fishing vessel. The blue points are vessels detected through AIS, the green points represent nearly 5,000 additional vessels revealed through Indonesia’s Vessel Monitoring System data.

Indonesia Makes its Fishing Fleet Visible to the World through Global Fishing Watch


View this on the Global Fishing Watch Map here: http://globalfishingwatch.org/indonesia-vms

This week, at the United Nation’s Ocean Conference, the Republic of Indonesia becomes the first nation ever to publish Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data revealing the location and activity of its commercial fishing fleet. The new data being made public on the Global Fishing Watch public mapping platform reveals commercial fishing in Indonesian waters and areas of the Indian Ocean where it had previously been invisible to the public and other nations. Read more

New Release Beta 2.0 – You Asked, We Delivered

Today, we are releasing a brand new version of the Global Fishing Watch interactive map that is easier to use and adds nearly 25,000 new vessels. It also increases your ability to customize the map view and share your work. Beta Release 2.0. comes in response to some great feedback we’ve been getting from our registered users since we launched in September.

You can now: Read more

The new release of Global Fishing Watch, Beta 2.0, includes a new look with enhanced custom features and 60,000 fishing vessels.

Beta Release 2.0: Nearly Doubling our Database of Commercial Fishing Vessels

Since our launch in September, we have added 25,000 more fishing vessels to our database. Our new Beta release 2.0 now includes 60,000 fishing vessels.

Although the number of fishing boats using AIS and the number of satellites receiving their signals have been steadily rising around the world, the vast majority of our gains have come from refinements to our analytical methods. The fishing detection algorithm has improved, and we’ve been able to identify more fishing vessels from the data we have. Read more

Fisheries Stakeholders Offer Insights to New Uses and Expanded Datasets

During the first two weeks of May, a team of Global Fishing Watch developers, designers and project managers gathered in Europe with members of our user community to teach, learn and brainstorm improvements and new uses for our online map and data. Read more

Our Recent Webinar Success Bodes Well for More to Come

Last Monday, we held a webinar in which 48 registered Global Fishing Watch users had an opportunity to hear from, and ask questions of, two of the authors of our recent report “The Global Footprint of Transshipment.” Read more

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 no doubt what we’re doing is groundbreaking, it’s encouraging to see how quickly the tool is becoming Read more

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 can then be labeled and tracked throughout the supply chain all the way to the consumer. That level of transparency was unimaginable just a few years ago. Read more

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 and those that supply local markets also supply major seafood supply chains and operate around the world. They catch about the same amount of fish for human consumption as commercial fisheries. Read more