Publication of VMS data contributes to ocean management on the global scale as it adds to a more comprehensive understanding of global fisheries. Governments can also benefit from a deeper understanding of their fisheries data by working with Global Fishing Watch. Going public with their VMS through GFW means for participating governments that: Monitoring becomes [...]
The FAO estimates that illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing accounts for 11–26 million tonnes of fish each year, worth US$10–23 billion, contributing to overfishing and often associated with human trafficking and other human rights abuses. IUU fishing is enabled by a lack of understanding of activity that occurs at sea; when activity occurs over [...]
Is it right to use AIS for tracking and analysing fishing vessel activity, given it was not intended for this purpose?
Monitoring a vessel activity through satellite AIS is a well-established practice in the shipping, insurance and commodities industries and AIS data is already publicly available. AIS was designed to be an open, public communications tool. Vessels that use AIS are intentionally making themselves trackable to everyone around them. Our fisheries are a common resource, whether [...]
There are some regions of the world that have better AIS reception than others. Variation results from the presence or absence of a satellite flying overhead at any given time, proximity of terrestrial receivers in the area, vessel densities (which can cause signal interference) and whether or not vessels are transmitting. Overall, reception continues to [...]
Yes – and Global Fishing Watch can help detect when this appears to occur. Our data reveal when a vessel appears to turn off its AIS. We can also flag instances where ships disappear or appear suddenly, jump 1,000s of miles at once, or appear to fish on land. AIS was primarily designed as a [...]
Most large fishing vessels are assigned a unique Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI) number, but in practice some vessels use a number that is not assigned to them, a practice that we refer to as ‘identity spoofing’ — either a false number (like 123456789) or the number of another vessel. This means that, throughout the [...]
We have seen vessel tracks that appear in impossible places such as the Himalayan Mountains or over Antarctica. These spurious positions are reasonably common. We can’t say for sure whether the AIS has been tampered with - which we refer to as ‘location spoofing’ - or is faulty, but the errors have followed regular patterns—varying [...]
Although not all of them do, we have seen vessels broadcasting with the Automatic Identification System (AIS) that appear to be fishing illegally. In order to get information on those which don’t, we continue to build in other data and develop tools to help us identify where fishing is happening even if AIS or Vessel [...]
VMS requirements vary greatly by region and fleet. For instance in Peru steel-hulled fishing vessels with a hold capacity over 32.6 cubic meters (around 15 meters in length) must use VMS. Additionally, all vessels in the anchovy fishery must transmit VMS. So VMS is typically mandated for vessels over a certain size but certain fleets [...]
Global Fishing Watch aims to improve the public understanding of where global fishing occurs by providing a free to access fishing activity map. We want to provide for those global citizens motivated to investigate fishing activity in areas of interest and we know that some individuals have monitored their local marine protected areas with Global [...]
What vessels are required to use AIS? What are global regulations and requirements for vessels to carry AIS?
The IMO requires AIS use by all vessels >500GT, for any vessel >300GT that is on an “international voyage” and for all passenger vessels: IMO Revised Guidelines for the Onboard Operation Use of Shipborne AIS – A.1106(29) 22 AIS should always be in operation when ships are underway or at anchor. If the master believes [...]
VIIRS, or Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite, is a method of boat detection via low light imaging data. The first VIIRS was launched in 2011 and the second in 2017. NOAA’s Earth Observation Group produces a nightly global mapping of VIIRS boat detections, which are available for open access download. VIIRS satellite uses highly sensitive [...]
VMS (Vessel Monitoring System) data tracks vessels in a similar way to AIS but this data has historically been restricted to government regulators or other fisheries authorities. Several countries have decided to release their VMS publically on Global Fishing Watch. VMS systems transmit positions at set intervals (we have worked with systems transmitting positions from [...]
Does Global Fishing Watch track illegal activity? Has Global Fishing Watch ever identified illegal fishing activity?
Global Fishing Watch aims to bring improved compliance, through increased transparency, to the global fishing fleet. We process data transmitted by fishing vessels to identify when they are fishing – that is, when and where fishing activity occurs, not just where fishing vessels are. Our purpose is not to identify illegal fishing activity. Fishing laws [...]
Global Fishing Watch was founded by a collaboration between Oceana, SkyTruth and Google. In June 2017, Global Fishing Watch became an independent non-profit organization (501(c)3) registered in Delaware, U.S. Oceana, SkyTruth and Google are represented on our board.