About Us

Photo: © OCEANA / Keith Ellenbogen

About Us 2018-01-04T13:24:43+00:00

Global Fishing Watch enables anyone with an Internet connection to see fishing activity anywhere in the ocean in near real-time, for free.

Global Fishing Watch was founded by Google, Skytruth, and Oceana in 2014. Their vision was to launch a transparency platform that would reveal the location and behaviors of commercial fishing fleets everywhere on the oceans through a freely accessible fishing activity map and processed data sets. Their purpose was to protect the world’s fisheries, which are an important source of protein for almost half of the people on the planet and yet, we have allowed them to be decimated by overfishing.

The platform launched in September 2016 and ushered in a new era in fisheries management and market accountability. We provide a uniquely public view of global commercial fishing and specific vessel behaviors and, by making our data freely available for research, we are enabling more rapid advances in our knowledge of how commercial fishing impacts the world’s fisheries. For the first time, governments, fishery management organizations, researchers, and the fishing industry have the information they need to protect critical marine habitats and make the oceans a more sustainable source of food for the world.

Our First Year At A Glance

Our Mission

90% of the ocean’s fish stocks have been overfished or fished to capacity because, until now, there has been no public mechanism for monitoring and understanding how commercial fishing impacts the world’s fisheries.

Global Fishing Watch fills this gap. We …

  • Create transparency by revealing the activity of the global commercial fishing fleet, allowing us to trace a vessel’s path through the seas and identify patterns of behavior among fleets, flag states, individual vessels, and more.
  • Accelerate research and innovation by making our transparency platform freely accessible to the public, which makes it possible for others to more rapidly advance our knowledge of fishing activity in ways that had been previously unavailable.
  • Promote sustainability through an expanding ecosystem of research, government, and market partners who are using our data and the new knowledge it generates to improve management policies, seafood sourcing, and ocean conservation.

Today, Global Fishing Watch is an independent not-for-profit that continues to expand our ability to “see” over the horizon and monitor commercial fishing activity. Our pursuit of increased transparency and understanding of vessel behaviors has already produced two unprecedented events:

  • A partnership with the government of Indonesia for the first-ever publication of a nation’s vessel monitoring system data (VMS), which added 5,000 vessels to our database and created a wave of interest from other countries to publish their VMS.
  • Publication of a report that, for the first time, provided a global footprint of transshipment, a practice that is often associated with illegal activity.

With the continued support of our many partners and concerned citizens, we expect to increase our view of commercial fishing activity from 65,000 vessels to more than 300,000 vessels by 2027 and to reveal more about specific vessel behaviors. You can help, too, by spreading the word about Global Fishing Watch and donating to our work.


“Global Fishing Watch is going to be transformative. It will really change the way we manage fisheries because we can see what’s happening instead of just trying to envision what’s out there on the water. We will know, and therefore, we can make smarter decisions…Right now commercial fishers know that no one can actually see where they are and what they’re doing. And many of them abide by the rules, many of them do not. Global Fishing Watch is going to change that, because now somebody can be watching, purely and simply. We can see what they are doing and that’s going to make a big difference.”

– Dr. Jane Lubchenco, U.S. Science Envoy for the Ocean, U.S. Department of State; Distinguished University Professor, Oregon State University; former Administrator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association

“Global Fishing Watch is a godsend to ocean conservation. It is the only remote vessel tracking system that is global and publicly available. This is the beginning of the end of illegal fishing.”

– Dr. Enric Sala, Explorer-in-Residence, National Geographic Society

“It’s interesting to be able to follow a given ship and to look back at where it’s been. So if they claim one thing, as a journalist you can go back and say ‘no you were not there, you were here at that time.’ So that’s new… To journalists I think the big story is going to be how Global Fishing Watch is going to change the way illegal fishing is done. Until now, boats could turn on or turn off their AIS systems and nobody really noticed. But now, it’s going o be a lot harder.”

– Chris Pala, Freelance Journalist

What Are People Saying?

“Global Fishing Watch is a transformative tool to identify fishing activity and verify fleets are fishing both sustainably and responsibly.”
– Alexandra Cousteau, Ocean Advocate

“Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing is a global crime. To put an end to it, we have to use all the tools we have to ensure that all fishing efforts in our waters are seen and recorded. Once Global Fishing Watch kicks in, no fishing boat will be able to hide.”
– Susi Pudjiastuti, Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Indonesia

“Global Fishing Watch will be a groundbreaking tool to help ensure that fishers are following the rules that govern where and when they can fish. As a result, every scientist, government and ocean advocate will be well equipped with information to help reverse current trends and rebuild ocean abundance.”
– Dr. Daniel Pauly, Professor, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries & Department of Zoology, The University of British Columbia