Data and technology

What Does an AIS Message Look Like Anyway?

Automatic Identification System (AIS) messages are transmitted over radio waves. The system was designed, in part, so that vessels could “see” the positions of nearby ships on a monitor and avoid collisions. These radio signals are received by satellites and used for many monitoring purposes. Each boat can broadcast a distinct message as often as every two [...]

By | 2018-01-05T12:18:05+00:00 November 8th, 2016|Data and technology|

Where are the Whalers?

Last week, a visitor to our site asked if Global Fishing Watch can be used to track whaling ships. The short answer is yes, sometimes. At the moment, our machine learning algorithms are being designed to classify three major types of fishing activity—trawling, longlining and purse seining—but some whaling vessels report themselves as “fishing vessels,” [...]

By | 2018-01-05T12:22:22+00:00 October 12th, 2016|Data and technology|

Teaching Machines to Tell Us About Fishing

None of what we’re doing at Global Fishing Watch would be possible without the advancements in computing power that have occurred in recent years. The volume of data we work with would have been overwhelming in the past. In one random sample, we observed more than 127,000 vessels over a 24-hour period broadcasting the Automatic [...]

By | 2018-01-05T12:28:05+00:00 September 28th, 2016|Data and technology|

What Ports Can Tell Us

Ports provide an important source of information to help us combat Illegal fishing and understand the science and economics of global fisheries. “They serve as the interface between land and sea for fishing vessels,” says Wessley Merten, our data and fisheries analyst at Oceana. “Wherever there’s a port, there’s an interaction. Whether it be offloading [...]

By | 2018-01-05T12:32:00+00:00 September 22nd, 2016|Data and technology|

When Vessels Report False Locations

Occasionally, the AIS messages transmitted from a ship provide a location that makes no sense, say, in the middle of the Antarctic or over a mountain range. In such cases, either the AIS transponder has malfunctioned, the data got scrambled in transmission, or the system has been tampered with in a deliberate attempt to disguise [...]

By | 2018-01-05T15:55:12+00:00 August 30th, 2016|Data and technology|

AIS and the Challenges of Tracking Vessels at Sea

At Global Fishing Watch, we hear it all the time: “Tracking commercial fishing vessels from satellites is such a great idea, and it seems so easy!” In fact, we’ve received a few questions from our readers asking us why this isn’t just a simple hack of publicly available data. […]

By | 2018-01-05T16:06:05+00:00 August 9th, 2016|Data and technology|

How Much Fish Can A Fisherman Fish? (and how we’re trying to find out)

To help researchers better understand how much fish is being taken from the ocean, we’re developing ways to use our data for estimating the total potential catch of the global fishing fleet. It’s a big and a complex question to answer, partly because the source of our information, AIS, is limited. It doesn’t tell us [...]

By | 2018-01-05T16:09:03+00:00 August 6th, 2016|Data and technology|

What Does Five Billion Look Like?

Every day we download more than 20 million data points, giving us the positions of the about two hundred thousand vessels in the world. To see where these vessels traveled in 2015, I plotted their positions to create the map you see above. This map shows all vessels carrying AIS, and not just fishing vessels, and [...]

By | 2018-01-05T16:12:45+00:00 July 19th, 2016|Data and technology|

Reading Tracks on the Water: A Team Effort for Humans and Machines

When it looks like spaghetti, it may be fishing. That’s one of the first lessons students learn when they’re working with Kristina Boerder, one of our academic partners from Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Of course, she’s not teaching them about pasta. She’s teaching them about the movement patterns of ships at sea. The [...]

By | 2018-01-05T16:16:06+00:00 June 8th, 2016|Data and technology|
Load More Posts