What is the Global Fishing Watch map?
The map gives the public a way to see the tracks of commercial fishing vessels at sea in near real-time. Using our freely accessible map, anyone is able to analyze historical data, dating back to 2012, upload their own datasets to deepen and broaden their own analyses and save and share their work.
There are several activity layers available in the map:
We use data about a vessel’s identity, type, location, speed, direction and more that is broadcast using the Automatic Identification System (AIS) and collected via satellites and terrestrial receivers. We analyze AIS data collected from vessels that our research has identified as known or possible commercial fishing vessels, and apply a fishing detection algorithm to determine “apparent fishing activity” based on changes in vessel speed and direction. The algorithm classifies each AIS broadcast data point for these vessels as either apparently fishing or not fishing and shows the former on our fishing activity heat map. Go to the map
Indonesian VMS activity
This layer uses data provided by the Indonesian Government’s Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. The data is collected using their Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) via satellites and terrestrial receivers, and contains a vessel identities, gear type, location, speed, direction and more. We analyze this data using the same algorithms developed for AIS data to identify fishing activity and behaviors. The algorithm classifies each broadcast data point for these vessels as either apparently fishing or not fishing and shows the former on our fishing activity map. Check out the VMS data in our map
Vessel encounters were identified from AIS data as locations where two vessels, a fish carrier and a fishing vessel, were continuously within 500 meters for at least 2 hours, while at least 10 km from a coastal anchorage. These parameters balance the need to detect vessel pairs in close proximity for extended periods of time while recognizing that incomplete satellite coverage and inconsistent AIS transmission rates may limit our ability to identify long periods in which vessels are in immediate contact. We exclude encounters that occur in port or commonly used anchorages. Check out vessel encounters in the map
Night light vessel detections
This layer shows vessels at sea that satellites have detected by the light that they emit at night. This includes all vessels that emit a lot of light at night, including non-fishing vessels. However, the majority of lights detected at sea at night come from commercial fishing vessels. The satellite makes a single over-pass across the entire planet every night, detecting lights not obscured by clouds and designed to give at least one observation globally every day. Because the vessels are detected solely based on light emission, we can detect individual vessels and even entire fishing fleets that are not broadcasting AIS and so are not represented in the AIS-based fishing activity layer. Lights from fixed offshore infrastructure and other non-vessel sources are excluded. Check out night light vessel detections in the map
To construct this layer, our platform ingests boat detections processed from low light imaging data collected by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS).
Additional data to overlay with our activity layers:
EEZ stands for Exclusive Economic Zone and is a state’s sovereign waters, which extend 200 nautical miles from the coast. The EEZ layer was created using the data available from marineregions.org. Go to the map
RFMO stands for Regional Fishery Management Organization. These organizations are international organizations formed by countries with a shared interest in managing or conserving an area’s fish stock. Some RFMOs manage all the fish stocks found in a specific area, while others focus on particular highly migratory species, notably tuna, throughout vast geographical areas. The RFMO Layer on the Global Fishing Watch map currently includes the five tuna RFMOs. Go to the map
High Seas Pockets
The High Seas are any area of the ocean beyond Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ). High Seas pockets are areas totally enclosed by EEZs. These pockets can be hard to distinguish from the multiple EEZ jurisdictions that surround them, thus, we have a layer that highlights them. Go to the map
MPA stands for Marine Protected Area. We have four layers for MPAs in our map. Our MPA-Restricted Use layer shows areas of ocean in which the extraction or significant destruction of natural resources, including fish, is restricted but not completely prohibited. Our MPA-No Take layer shows areas of ocean in which the extraction or significant destruction of natural resources, including fish, is prohibited. These two layers were created using the data available from the Marine Conservation Institute’s MPAtlas. We also have a MPAtlas layer containing all MPAs in the MPAtlas, and a Protected Planet WDPA layer containing all MPAs published in Protected Planet WDPA. Go to the map
How to select a map view
Click on ‘activity layers’ in the top right of the map and select the layer you want to see or hide from view