AIS for Safety and Tracking: A Brief History

The maritime Automatic Identification System (AIS) is a radio communications system by which vessels continuously broadcast their identity and position over public airwaves using unencrypted VHS radio signals. When it was developed almost 20 years ago, its primary purpose was to increase safety at sea: ships needed a better way to “see” each other and [...]

By | 2018-01-05T11:39:06+00:00 March 31st, 2017|Data|

86,490 Points on a Map: All Potential Transshipments

5 years, over 86,000 potential transshipments In early 2017, we released an original report based on analysis of our data that revealed remarkable new insights about what goes on between fishing vessels at sea. The machine learning platform we developed found that over the past five years, there were more than 86,000 potential [...]

By | 2017-12-27T22:41:34+00:00 March 2nd, 2017|Data|

Making the Cut–Creating Our List of Fishing Vessels

This post has been adapted from “Updated Vessel Lists 0.2”  which appeared on our Data Blog for researchers and software engineers by David Kroodsma. Automating the process of identifying all industrial-scale fishing activity in near-real time on a global scale through AIS data is something that’s never been done. Inventing something new often means first [...]

By | 2017-12-27T22:49:01+00:00 December 30th, 2016|Data|

Identifying Transshipment From the Data

When two ships meet to transfer goods, it is called transshipment. In the fisheries industry, it is sometimes legal in ports, but usually illegal out at sea where the practice can’t be monitored. [You can read more about it here]. Transshipment can facilitate the mixing of illegal or unreported catch with legal catch, making it [...]

By | 2018-01-05T12:15:48+00:00 November 18th, 2016|Data|

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|

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|

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|

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|

Characterizing Gaps in the Data

Just a few years ago the very idea of collecting billions of radio signals from ocean-going vessels all around the world and creating a global map of their activity in near-real time would have been unthinkable. But today’s cloud computing technology allows us to do amazing things with huge amounts of data. […]

By | 2017-12-22T11:31:31+00:00 September 20th, 2016|Data|

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|

Clarifying Identity: Matching Broadcasts to Vessel Registries

The satellite-based Automatic Identification System (AIS) is great for locating vessels, but it’s not fully reliable for identifying them. AIS broadcasts coded messages that include information about a vessel’s identity such as its name, ship […]

By | 2018-01-05T16:03:59+00:00 August 18th, 2016|Data|

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|

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|
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