January 31, 2017 — Hundreds of millions of people depend on the ocean for their livelihoods, and almost 3 billion rely on it as a protein source. But countless threats — overfishing, destructive fishing practices, bycatch, dishonest catch reporting, habitat destruction — threaten our oceans and the people who depend on them. It’s an economic problem, too: illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is a universal problem that accounts for 11-26 million tons of fish caught and $10-23 billion in global economic losses each year.
It seems overwhelming. But what if there was a tool that gave all people the power to become watchdogs of our oceans? How can technology help enforcement agencies to better monitor their territory at sea? How can we help identify illegal fishing and protect ocean habitats?
These are all questions that Oceana, SkyTruth, and Google contemplated as part of their joint effort to create a new tool called Global Fishing Watch – just named one of the Top 10 Ocean Conservation Victories of 2016. Global Fishing Watch is an online platform that allows anyone with an internet connection to monitor when and where commercial fishing is happening around the globe. This new technology is the result of a powerful collaboration that takes advantage of the strengths unique to each partnering organization: Oceana’s ability to execute winning advocacy campaigns to protect the world’s oceans, SkyTruth’s ability to use satellites to monitor threats to the planet and Google’s ability to organize and make large and complex data sets universally accessible.