Research Partners

Research Partners 2018-01-18T07:25:52+00:00


The Research Partners program is an interdisciplinary collaboration that strives to improve fisheries management and science through shared data and cooperation.

Scientists play a key role in identifying and understanding the complex challenges facing our oceans, which is why we are working closely with some of the world’s leading researchers to extend the value of our dataset. Our collaborations contribute to discoveries and solutions critical to marine conservation, global economics, and human welfare. The partnerships we are forging will help us understand the role fishing plays in the physical, biological, economic, and political factors of the oceans.
Transparency and collaboration are core principles of Global Fishing Watch, and the Research Partnerships program is based on these principles. Research partners are committed to sharing datasets, ideas, and methodologies with the belief that broader access to information leads to future initiatives and innovations in support of more sustainable fisheries.

Results generated from these collaborations can be found on our Publications page.

Research Partners and Projects

Dalhousie University: Worm Lab

The Worm Lab includes students and postdoctoral fellows engaged in the study of marine biodiversity, its causes, consequences of change, and conservation. The lab focuses on how marine biodiversity is distributed across the globe, how it changes over time, and how its loss can be prevented. Fishing can cause major impacts on marine biodiversity, and together with Global Fishing Watch, the Worm lab is conducting several studies on these impacts, including investigations into the interactions of fishing with marine protected areas, biodiversity hotspots, migratory species, and the global effects of fishing on biodiversity.

National Geographic: Pristine Seas

The National Geographic Society´s Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Enric Sala launched the Pristine Seas project in 2008 to identify, survey, document, and protect the last truly wild places in the ocean. Through exploration, scientific research, economic and policy analysis, and outreach, they have worked to help establish protected areas covering more than three million square kilometers of ocean territory. Working with Global Fishing Watch, new models are being developed to identify regions of the high seas that are ecologically unique and economically viable for protection.

University of California, Santa Barbara: Sustainable Fisheries Group

The Sustainable Fisheries Group (SFG) is a collaboration between UC Santa Barbara’s Marine Science Institute and the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management. SFG’s research draws on diverse market approaches, bioeconomic modeling, and spatial analysis to improve the ecological and economic performance of fisheries and other ocean uses. Using Global Fishing Watch data, SFG is engaged in projects on the costs of high seas fishery policies, behavioral shifts following large-scale marine reserve implementation, the importance of global change in the spatial distribution of fish and fishermen, and real-time stock assessments.

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO): MCS Analytics

MCS (Monitoring, Control and Surveillance) Analytics is a collaboration between the Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries and the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) to improve the use of fisheries monitoring data. The research teams are developing statistical tools for understanding the activities of fishing vessels, with the goal of improving fisheries statistics and enhancing the information available for reducing IUU fishing. Working with Global Fishing Watch, CSIRO researchers within this collaboration seek to to identify when vessels intentionally disable AIS devices, and they are working to better understand transshipment behavior.

Duke University: Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab

The Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab at Duke University applies geospatial technologies to issues in marine ecology, resource management and ocean conservation. The lab contributes ecological analysis, statistical models, geospatial tools, and open-access data to marine policy and management processes from local to international scales. In partnership with Global Fishing Watch, the lab is working to better characterize fishing activity in the Pacific Ocean and understand how Global Fishing Watch data can assist with management challenges in the high seas.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

FAO plays a leading role in international fisheries policy working with a wide range of partners, including Governments, Regional Fisheries Bodies, cooperatives, fishing communities and more. UN-FAO will collaborate on new platforms and research methodologies that will build on Global Fishing Watch and global vessel registries for understanding and reporting high resolution spatial fishery statistics, and proposing transparency tools to support states in improving their monitoring, control and surveillance of fishing activities.

Stanford University: Block Lab

The Block lab focus on how large pelagic fishes utilize the open ocean, and draws on innovative telemetry devices to track the movement of pelagic predators. The research in the lab is interdisciplinary, combining physiology, ecology, and genetics with oceanography and engineering. Working with Global Fishing Watch, the lab is undertaking a few projects related to understanding patterns of high-seas fishing activity across the globe and how global fishing fleets interact with large pelagic fish and sharks. This work will be applied to inform marine spatial planning and fisheries management for areas outside national jurisdictions.

University of British Columbia: Institute for Oceans and Fisheries

Within the Institute for Oceans and Fisheries, Global Fishing Watch is collaborating with three specific programs: the Sea Around Us, the Fisheries Economics Research Unit & theOceanCanada Partnership, and the Changing Ocean Research Unit & NF Nereus Program. These programs bring a wealth of expertise in catch reconstruction and fleet distributions, economic fishery modeling, and environmental and climate implications for fisheries. We are excited to blend their proven methodologies with new global data sources from AIS analysis.

University of California, Santa Barbara: Marine Science Institute

The McCauley Lab, within the Marine Science Institute, is a consortium of broadly trained ecologists that focus on understanding how we influence the oceans and how the oceans influence us. The lab is using Global Fishing Watch data to evaluate the efficacy of large marine protected areas; to strengthen emerging commitments by the United Nations to protect biodiversity of the high seas; and to better understand how fishing shapes global patterns of environmental justice.

University of Wollongong: Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS)

The ANCORS Fisheries Governance Program studies how we manage human interaction with our marine environment, and develops innovative solutions to manage our activities and impacts. Their applied research engages with communities and governments, analyzes key problems, and creates new solutions that deliver real outcomes with tangible impacts. ANCORS is collaborating with Global Fishing Watch to research and develop innovative approaches to fisheries governance, science, and marine conservation.

NOAA-NESDIS Earth Observation Group (EOG)

The NOAA-NESDIS Earth Observation Group produces a nightly global boat detection data set with low-light imaging data collected by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS).  This is a key meteorological sensor used in weather prediction by NOAA and many other agencies.  At night the instrument collects visible band low-light imaging data for the detection of moonlit clouds.  As a bi-product, the instrument also collects data on light sources present at the earth’s surface, including vessels using lights to attract catch or for their nighttime operations.  The use of lights on fishing boats to attract catch is a widely used practice in Asia and in several other regions.  The VIIRS boat detection (VBD) data are used by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and fishery agencies in Indonesia, Philippines, Korea, Japan, Vietnam and Thailand.  EOG has developed algorithms to match VIIRS boat detections with GPS based boat tracks, including Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) and Automatic Identification System (AIS).  By partnering with Global Fishing Watch, EOG plans to expand the VBD user base and collaborate in the identification of “dark vessels” detected by VIIRS but lacking VMS or AIS signal.

What Researchers Are Saying About Global Fishing Watch

“I think Global Fishing Watch is poised to completely revolutionize the way fisheries are managed, the way fisheries are assessed, the way fisheries are monitored and evaluated. So I think pretty much everything we do in fisheries could be revolutionized by Global Fishing Watch.”

– Dr. Chris Costello


“I think Global Fishing Watch could play a key role in making human use of the ocean transparent to everybody.”

– Dr. Boris Worm


“Until Global Fishing Watch came online, there was not a publicly available source of information about where fishing was happening.”

– Dr. Douglas McCauley


Partners for Change

Collaborating, Adapting Algorithms for Peru’s VMS

December 15th, 2017|

Last week, members of our team traveled to Peru to participate in a workshop on fishing algorithms and data, co-hosted by Oceana Peru and the Instituto del Mar de Peru (IMARPE). We made the journey [...]

A Victory for Transparency in Peru

October 5th, 2017|

This letter from Andy Sharpless first appeared on Oceana’s blog. Read the Spanish translation here. I am writing to you from Peru, where I have just witnessed Oceana’s team win an [...]

Oceana Discovers that EU Countries Have Unlawfully Authorized Vessels to Fish in African Waters

September 15th, 2017|

Oceana data analyst Lacey Malarky uses Global Fishing Watch data to tackle numerous questions that may impact fisheries conservation. Her analyses supported a recently passed regulation that will help ensure greater transparency in European [...]

Fisheries Stakeholders Offer Insights to New Uses and Expanded Datasets

May 11th, 2017|

During the first two weeks of May, a team of Global Fishing Watch developers, designers and project managers gathered in Europe with members of our user community to teach, learn and brainstorm improvements and new [...]

A New View of Marine Protected Areas

January 31st, 2017|

In 2016, 33 countries agreed to establish a global network of scientifically supported Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that will increase the amount of ocean area protected from the current 2 percent to 10 percent by [...]

MPA Survey Hints at Complexity of Marine Conservation

December 7th, 2016|

The no-take marine reserve Motu Maha surrounds the Aukland Islands. Marine protected areas (MPAs) are among the best tools we have for conserving biodiversity in the oceans, protecting vulnerable marine life, and providing [...]

Interview with Chris Costello: Environmental Economist

August 20th, 2016|

A 2016 recipient of the prestigious Peter Benchley Ocean Award, Dr. Christopher Costello is a professor of Environmental and Resource Economics at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management, UC Santa Barbara. His work [...]

Rush Hour in the Sanctuary

August 7th, 2016|

Way out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, on a sanctuary off limits to fishing activity, scientists are learning the habits of marine life uninterrupted by humans. In a recent study, they’ve found that [...]

Interview with Marine Ecologist Dr. Doug McCauley

July 23rd, 2016|

Last year, Dr. Doug McCauley told the New York Times that humanity may be on the verge of creating a mass extinction in the seas unless we can rapidly change our course. McCauley and his [...]

Interview with Marine Ecologist, Boris Worm

July 10th, 2016|

Dr. Boris Worm is a world renowned marine ecologist and professor of marine conservation biology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Co-author or primary author of more than 100 articles in leading science journals, [...]