Global Fishing Watch

Global Fishing Watch
They create and publicly share knowledge about human activity at sea to enable fair and sustainable use of the ocean.

Global Fishing Watch was founded in 2015 through a collaboration between three partners: Oceana, an international ocean conservation organization; SkyTruth, a technology firm that uses satellite imagery and data to protect the environment; and Google, whose tools and contributions help process big data. Global Fishing Watch is a website launched in September 2016 to create and publicly share knowledge about human activity at sea to enable fair and sustainable use of the ocean. The aim is to provide the world’s first global view of commercial fishing activities. At any moment, 200,000 vessels are publicising their locations via the Automatic Identification System (AIS).

Global Fishing Watch enables users with Internet access to monitor fishing activity globally, and to view individual vessel tracks, exclusive economic zones, marine protected areas, and other features. It is hoped that the initiative can help to reduce "global overfishing, illegal fishing and habitat destruction.

The aim is to create new knowledge by using cutting-edge technology to turn big data into actionable information. They share information publicly, and for free, to accelerate science and drive fairer, smarter policies and practices that reward good behaviour and protect biodiversity, fisheries and livelihoods. They promote international cooperation and transparency around ocean data to enable a new era of ocean governance.

The Outlaw Ocean. An Exploration of Policy Solutions to Address Illegal Fishing and Forced Labour in the Seafood Industry. October 2020.

Stanford Law School, working with Global Fishing Watch, looks at how to incentivise data sharing. The report also highlights two case studies in Fiji and Indonesia on translating international labour rights mechanisms into national legislation to prevent forced labour.

Satellites can reveal risk of forced labour in the world’s fishing fleet. 21 December 2020.

The model uses remote sensing data, machine learning, and human rights expertise to shed light on slavery at sea to reveal the global extent of forced labour in the world’s fishing fleet. The study shows how vessels known to have crew that are subject to forced labour behave in systematically different ways to the rest of the global fishing fleet. The discovery was used to build a first-of-its-kind model to identify and predict vessels at high risk of engaging in these abuses.

Significance for seafood businesses: 

This is a seafood specific tool that addresses visibility at sea. It could help seafood buyers make an informed judgement on the risks they face when sourcing seafood. 

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