The website, developed through a partnership of Oceana, SkyTruth and Google, was unveiled on Sept. 16 by Academy award winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio at the US State Department’s Our Ocean Conference in Washington DC.
The website analyzes data from the Automatic Identification System, which is collected via satellite and terrestrial receivers, to identify apparent fishing behavior based on movement of vessels over time. Over the course of a year, thousands of vessels, including more than 35,000 known or likely commercial fishing boats, broadcast their position, course and speed through AIS. Fleets of satellites then record these broadcasts and transmit the information to Earth. Users can track and measure both near real-time and historical commercial fishing activity using the Global Fishing Watch heat map, view individual vessel tracks, exclusive economic zones, marine protected areas, and more.
With some three billion people relying on the ocean as their primary food source, the environmental non-profit Oceana is encouraging users of the website to share information when they suspect online evidence of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activity, to help governments facing the challenge of sustainably managing vast areas of the ocean.
The website’s overall goals are to improve decision-making about effective management of the world’s fisheries and oceans, to engage citizens in helping to rebuild and maintain abundant oceans and to provide a powerful tool to show consumers where and by whom their fish are being caught.