NOAA Fisheries states that such acts (which happen globally) are a great threat to sustainability and conservation. Those who take part in illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU) ignore measures put in place that would prevent overfishing and therefore the devastation of oceanic environments.
The tool will be free (which is different than tools already available which are paid) and available to anyone with an internet connection. It uses satellites that usually track boats via an installed Automatic Identification System (AIS) so that they can avoid collisions when they are out to sea. The tool will allow viewers to find “trackable boat’s movements in real-time” as a way to “pinpoint suspicious fishing activities” that should be reported to the authorities. “Global Fishing Watch will ultimately give citizens a simple, online platform to visualize, track and share information about fishing activity worldwide,” writes Oceana on their website.
Similar technology has been used before by Google in efforts to protect endangered species from around the world. There are critics who believe that there is much danger in the way that Google is storing mass amounts of data from these tools. However, others, and perhaps some of the same who mention the danger, feel that this data gathering is important in lieu of the numbers. Illegal fishing “affects more than 35 percent of the world’s marine fish stocks.” It’s a number that could deplete the world’s marine fish stocks. That doesn’t just mean environmental changes. It also means considerably less food for humans.
It seems that the Global Fishing Watch tool is currently in its development stages. Funds for the tool still need to be raised and challenges such as being able to track boats that do not have an AIS installed on board need to be surpassed.
So, poachers, beware. The Global Fishing Watch website is already live and Google and its cohorts have made it clear that the responsibility of watching the planet’s oceans are in our hands: “With hundreds of millions of people around the world depending on our ocean for their livelihoods, and many more relying on the ocean for food, ensuring the long-term sustainability of our ocean is a critical global priority,” writes Global Fishing Watch, “We need a tool that harnesses the power of citizen engagement to hold our leaders accountable for maintaining an abundant ocean.”
The website’s full launch should be soon. It depends on how quickly fundraising efforts go. In all best cases, Global Fishing Watch will be available in 2015.
*originally published on the now defunct Examiner.com