Our Map

Our Map 2018-12-14T04:28:13+00:00
Go to our map

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:

Fishing effort

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

Peruvian VMS activity

This layer uses data provided by the Peruvian Government’s Ministry of Production. 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

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:

EEZs

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.orgGo to the map

RFMOs

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

MPAs

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

We have several resources to help you best navigate our 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

Map FAQ

How do I upload my own custom layer? 2018-10-26T08:15:45+00:00
  1. Upload a GeoJSON file to GeoJSON.io.
  2. Copy the link to that uploaded file.
  3. In the Global Fishing Watch map toolbox, open the Layers tab.
  4. Click on Custom Layer.
  5. Add a custom layer in Global Fishing Watch, pasting your GeoJSON link.
  6. Customize the layer color.
How do I create a report of fishing activity? 2017-12-28T14:58:02+00:00

In the map toolbox, open the Layers tab, then open “map layers.”

  1. Click the report icon (closest icon to the layer name) for the layer you are interested in observing (MPA-No Take, MPA-Restricted Use, EEZ, or RFMO). The report icon will turn white when selected.
  2. Click within the area you are interested in (e.g. within the MPA-No Take you are interested in, if you selected the report feature for the MPA-No Take layer).
  3. A pop-up box will appear with the name of the area you have selected. Click “Add to report.”
  4. You may select multiple regions.
  5. In the toolbox, click Send Report.
  6. The report will be emailed to you as an attached file in a few minutes.
How can I change the time period I see on the slider? 2017-12-28T14:58:02+00:00

The time slider at the bottom of the map determines the time period you are viewing. There are several ways to manipulate the time slider:

  • Click on the Start Date in the bottom left corner or End Date in the bottom right corner. A calendar will pop up and allow you to select dates.
  • Click on the bars on the left or right edge of the Time Slider, hold and drag to change the start or end time.
  • Click on the gear icon in the upper left corner of the box in the in Time Slider and select the time frame you are interested in.
How do I view a particular country’s fishing fleet? 2017-12-28T14:58:02+00:00

Click on the Filter tab in the toolbox and select the country you are interested in from the dropdown menu. You may view multiple countries’ fleets and customize the color of fishing activity on the map by country.  

How do I search for a specific vessel? 2017-12-28T14:58:02+00:00

Click on the Vessels tab in the toolbox to the right and enter the vessel identifying information in the search bar.

How can I save or share my workspace? 2017-12-28T14:58:02+00:00

You may share your workspace by clicking on the share arrow on the left side of the map below the “+” and “-” icons. This will bring up a unique url for your workspace, which you can copy and save or share with someone, as well as the option to embed your workspace.

Why am I not seeing certain Marine Protected Areas on Global Fishing Watch? 2018-10-26T08:17:45+00:00

We currently do not show all MPAs in our MPA – Restricted Use and MPA – No Take layers as their restrictions vary, and for visualization reasons. We have 3 MPA layers:

  • WDPA Protected planet MPA: includes ALL MPAs from Protected Planet.
  • MPA No Take: includes ‘no take’ MPAs extracted from Protected Planet WDPA.
  • MPA Restricted Use: includes ‘restricted use’ MPAs extracted from Protected Planet WDPA.
Why is there fishing in an area marked as an MPA? 2017-12-28T14:58:26+00:00

In such areas you may see fishing. In no take Marine Protected Areas there should not be fishing, and any apparent fishing in such an area should be subjected to further scrutiny.

Why are there large circles in which there is no apparent fishing? 2017-12-28T14:58:26+00:00

The large circles without fishing are almost always EEZs around islands that heavily restrict or prohibit fishing (if you turn on the EEZ Layer in the Global Fishing Watch Map, you will see that they often line up with these blank areas). The circles could also be Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that prohibit fishing (you can turn on the MPA layers to see if that’s the case).

What is the significance of the EEZs? 2017-12-28T14:58:26+00:00

An Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) is a zone in the ocean in which the adjacent nation has jurisdiction. These generally include waters extending 200 nautical miles from a nation’s coastline but are also drawn closer in where multiple nation’s jurisdictions would otherwise overlap. Each country has special rights regarding exploration and use of resources within its EEZ. For example, if a country establishes that its fishing resources are being fully exploited by domestic fleets, it can exclude foreign vessels. A country can also allow foreign vessels to fish in its EEZ and can sell them fishing licenses.

What is the difference between MPA – No Take and MPA – Restricted Use? 2017-12-28T14:58:26+00:00

MPA – No Take includes protected areas where all fishing is prohibited. MPA – Restricted Use contains areas that allow some fishing but impose restrictions such as catch quotas, seasonal closures, or limits on certain types of fishing gear or fishing sectors (commercial vs. recreational, or industrial vs. small-scale).

Is the information I’m seeing in the map in real-time? 2017-12-28T14:58:26+00:00

The data you see spans from January 1, 2012 to near real-time. The most recent data shown in the map is from 72 hours prior to the present time.

Definitions

“AIS” stands for the Automatic Identification System. It is a maritime navigation safety communications system standardized by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) that provides vessel information, including the vessel’s identity, type, position, course, speed, navigational status and other safety-related information automatically to appropriately equipped shore stations, other ships and aircraft; automatically receives such information from similarly fitted ships; monitors and tracks ships; and exchanges data with shore-based facilities.
The unique identification of a vessel’s radio transmissions assigned to it by its national licensing authority.
The type of AIS transponder a vessel uses – Class A transponders are the most expensive and transmit at 12.5 watts. There are two types of Class B transponders – Class B/SO, which transmits at 5 watts (2 watts @ low power) and Class B/CS receiver, which transmits at 2 watts.
“EEZ” stands for Exclusive Economic Zone and is a state’s sovereign waters, which extend 200 nautical miles from the coast. EEZ data is taken from http://marineregions.org/
Global Fishing Watch uses 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. AIS was developed for safety/collision-avoidance. Global Fishing Watch analyzes AIS data collected from vessels that our research has identified as known or possible commercial fishing vessels, and applies 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 the Global Fishing Watch fishing activity heat map. AIS data as broadcast may vary in completeness, accuracy and quality. Also, data collection by satellite or terrestrial receivers may introduce errors through missing or inaccurate data. Global Fishing Watch’s fishing detection algorithm is a best effort mathematically to identify “apparent fishing activity.” As a result, it is possible that some fishing activity is not identified as such by Global Fishing Watch; conversely, Global Fishing Watch may show apparent fishing activity where fishing is not actually taking place. For these reasons, Global Fishing Watch qualifies designations of vessel fishing activity, including synonyms of the term “fishing activity,” such as “fishing” or “fishing effort,” as “apparent” rather than certain. Any/all Global Fishing Watch information about “apparent fishing activity” should be considered an estimate and must be relied upon solely at your own risk. Global Fishing Watch is taking steps to make sure fishing activity designations are as accurate as possible. Global Fishing Watch fishing detection algorithms are developed and tested using actual fishing event data collected by observers, combined with expert analysis of vessel movement data resulting in the manual classification of thousands of known fishing events. Global Fishing Watch also collaborates extensively with academic researchers through our research program to share fishing activity classification data and automated classification techniques.
The state a vessel is registered or licensed under.
The IMO number is a unique vessel identification number assigned by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to sea-going ships under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). Fishing vessels of 300 gross tonnage or more engaged in international voyages are required to broadcast AIS by the the IMO.
MMSI stands for Maritime Mobile Service Identity. It is a unique nine-digit number assigned to every Automatic Identification System (AIS) transmission made by a vessel.
MPA stands for Marine Protected Area. A No-Take Marine Protected Area is an area of ocean in which the extraction or significant destruction of natural cultural resources, including fish, is prohibited. MPA data is taken from http://mpatlas.org/
MPA stands for Marine Protected Area. A Restricted Use Marine Protected Area is an area of ocean in which the extraction or significant destruction of natural cultural resources, including fish, is restricted by prohibition of fishing in certain areas or during certain times of year. MPA data is taken from http://mpatlas.org/
A vessel’s name. Vessel names can be changed without notice, and are often used by multiple vessels so the name alone is not a robust form of identity.