Explainers

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|

Rendezvous at Sea: What is Transshipping?

In the commercial fishing world, transshipment is the transfer of catch from one vessel to another. During a transshipment, a fishing vessel meets up with a large refrigerated cargo-type ship, known as a “reefer.” They tie up alongside one another and drift while the fishing vessel offloads tons of catch before heading back out to [...]

By | 2018-01-05T15:58:11+00:00 August 23rd, 2016|Fisheries|

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|

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|

Who Owns the Fish: High Seas and the EEZs

To look out over the ocean at a horizon that stretches for thousands of miles, it’s almost easy to understand how we have allowed overfishing to become such a serious problem. It’s that very quality of limitlessness that led the world to believe there would always be enough. […]

By | 2018-01-05T16:14:21+00:00 July 1st, 2016|Fisheries|
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