Groundbreaking portal harnesses open data and machine learning to help transform management and research for critical marine areas

Washington, D.C. — Global Fishing Watch has launched an innovative technology portal to help strengthen management of marine protected areas (MPAs) and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs). The portal hosts diverse datasets and analysis tools to support marine spatial planning and ocean stewardship. Founded by philanthropist and ocean advocate, Dona Bertarelli, the technology aims to revolutionize our ability to dynamically monitor and conserve marine ecosystems.

The United Nations set a target of protecting 10 percent of the world’s ocean by 2020. Today, less than 8 percent of the ocean is safeguarded through MPAs or OECMs, with less than 3 percent covered by fully or highly-protected areas. Despite progress in recent years, a lack of open, timely and user-friendly data has impeded the design and management of MPAs. Global Fishing Watch Marine Manager aims to help solve this problem by combining and visualizing near real-time, dynamic data on ocean conditions and human activities and their impacts.

“Marine protected areas are increasingly being recognized as a tool to restore ocean health, combat climate change and support a sustainable and regenerative blue economic recovery,” said Dona Bertarelli, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Special Adviser for the Blue Economy and co-chair of the Bertarelli Foundation. “Realizing their potential requires urgent action to achieve the goal of protecting at least 30 percent of the ocean by 2030, through the creation of marine protected areas and effective management on the water. Global Fishing Watch Marine Manager is part of the solution to improve ocean protection and achieve international conservation goals.”

Global Fishing Watch Marine Manager has launched ahead of the opening conference for the Decade of Ocean Science, a United Nations initiative to bolster scientific research and innovative technologies to support the sustainable development of our ocean.

“Global Fishing Watch is tapping the technology revolution to empower sustainable management of marine ecosystems. Our marine manager portal puts scientific information at the fingertips of managers and researchers, with the tools necessary to rapidly analyze data and monitor vast ocean areas,” said Tony Long, CEO of Global Fishing Watch.

MPAs and OECMs are essential tools for building resilience to rising sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification, and they help create safe havens for biodiversity and fish stocks to replenish. But robust and science-based management is needed to fully realize their vital contribution.

The portal allows marine managers and researchers to monitor vessels involved in commercial fishing and other activities, such as vessels involved in tourism, oil drilling and shipping. Vessel information can be overlaid with environmental datasets such as salinity and sea surface temperature to understand climate change impacts over time.

“Protecting our oceans is a global task that requires global action. As a leader in marine conservation, Canada is proud to support the Global Fishing Watch’s marine manager portal. Their world-class technology will monitor marine protected areas and advance scientific research, contributing to the overall health of our oceans and helping us to protect 30 percent of the ocean by 2030,” said The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.

Inaugural partners using the portal include management authorities responsible for the iconic Galápagos Islands—one of the most biologically diverse MPAs in the world—and the globally-significant Ascension Island MPA—a protected area that has never had considerable fishing activity. Important marine areas for Guyana and the islands of Tristan da Cunha—located in the south Atlantic Ocean—and Niue—in the South Pacific—are also included in the launch of the portal. More locations are set to join as the portal’s development continues.

“Global Fishing Watch’s marine manager portal enables us to harness the power of big data to monitor, understand and manage the entire 170,000 square miles of Ascension Island’s marine protected area—one of the most remote areas of the ocean,” said Diane Baum, director of conservation and fisheries, Ascension Island Government.

Global Fishing Watch acknowledges the founding vision and partnership from Dona Bertarelli, along with funding support from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, The Pew Charitable Trusts, the National Philanthropic Trust and Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Vibrant Oceans Initiative.

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For further information:
Sarah Bladen
Director, Communications and International Affairs
Global Fishing Watch
sarah@globalfishingwatch.org

The portal can be accessed at: https://globalfishingwatch.org/marine-manager

Global Fishing Watch Marine Manager is a freely available, innovative technology portal, founded by Dona Bertarelli. It provides near real-time, dynamic, and interactive data on ocean conditions, biology, and human-use activity to support marine spatial planning, marine protected area design and management, and scientific research.

Global Fishing Watch (GFW) is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the sustainability of our ocean through increased transparency of human activity at sea. By creating and publicly sharing map visualizations, data and analysis tools, GFW enables scientific research and drives a transformation in how we manage our ocean. globalfishingwatch.org

Dona Bertarelli is committed to securing ecologically significant and effective marine protected areas, and the responsible and regenerative use of the ocean, while preserving the health of its ecosystems.

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