Transparency

Transparency is crucial for good stewardship of our global ocean—to fight illegal fishing, to protect fish stocks and livelihoods, and to increase the safety and well-being of fishers. We are committed to promoting international cooperation and transparency around ocean data towards a new era of ocean governance.

About our Transparency Program

Despite its importance, the ocean remains the least observed part of our planet. Without a global picture of our activity at sea, we cannot truly understand the impact humans have on life below water. This lack of visibility is compounded by a patchwork of regulations in fisheries management and fosters an environment where illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing can thrive.

At Global Fishing Watch, we believe that improved governance can only happen through increased transparency, from open-access vessel identification to public tracking of vessel activity. Our vision is a healthy, productive and resilient ocean where transparency of information enables the fair and sustainable use of our ocean. Advances in machine learning and satellite technology are rapidly transforming our ability to generate new insights. We seek to make this information readily available to those who need it so that every fisheries scientist, management agency and policymaker around the world can harness data and technology to help safeguard the global ocean commons.

Using cutting-edge data analysis, Global Fishing Watch is helping governments and maritime security agencies strengthen their methods of monitoring and control and enabling countries to meet their sustainability goals. Countries can benefit from transparency by making the following vessel information publicly available:

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Tracking – All vessels should be publicly trackable using automatic identification systems, vessel monitoring systems, or any other viable system.

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Identification All vessels should be allocated with a unique vessel identifier that follows a vessel from construction to scrapping

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Registration – Public vessel registers should be maintained with up-to-date authorization details and all relevant data should be submitted to the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Global Record of Fishing Vessels, Refrigerated  Transport Vessels and Supply Vessels.

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Authorization – Authorizations to fish and transship catch should be made public and readily available to ensure decision makers can validate vessels quickly and effectively.

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Compliance – Vessels that have been identified as engaged in illegal, unreported or unregulated activity should be listed publicly.

Innovation, Technology and Partnerships for Targeting Crimes that Affect Ocean-Based Climate Resilience

COP28 facilitates conversation to highlight technology’s role in addressing criminal activities that lead to ocean degradation

The ocean absorbs one-third of carbon dioxide produced by humans and 90 percent of heat created by global warming. The resulting acidification and rise in sea temperature, when combined with unsustainable fishing, pollution and other illegal activities taking place across the ocean, leads to detrimental impacts on marine life and ecosystem services. And despite an increase in marine conservation efforts, most coastal States still lack the basic resources and capabilities needed to adequately monitor their maritime domains and regulate the activities taking place within them.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime is working to address illicit activities that impact the environment, integrating justice system measures into the international response to climate change. Alongside Global Fishing Watch and SkyTruth, they are hosting a side event at the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference to discuss the role of innovative partnerships and technology solutions to address the criminal activities that contribute to the decline of marine biodiversity and ocean resilience. Representatives from each organization, along with the Indonesia Ocean Justice Initiative and OnDeck Fisheries AI, will dive into real problems faced by coastal States and consider what actions can be taken to strengthen rule-based ocean climate action. Reinforcing the need for continued collaboration, panelists will deliberate on how environmental authorities, maritime actors, technology providers and the justice system can together bring forward recommendations from the conference.

Event Details:
Title: Innovation, Technology and Partnerships for Targeting Crimes that Affect Ocean-Based Climate Resilience
Date: December 1, 2023
Time: 15:00-16:00 GST
Location: Nature Positive Pavilion 

Not attending COP28? Livestream the side event on Nature4Climate’s YouTube channel.

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Data-sharing initiative

Global Fishing Watch primarily uses publicly broadcast automatic identification system, or AIS, data to track fishing vessel movements. While AIS is required for industrial-sized vessels (more than 300 gross tonnes) that are responsible for the majority of the global catch, adding vessel monitoring system (VMS) data, which is now required by many governments, can provide an even clearer view of what is taking place across the ocean.

Global Fishing Watch is committed to bringing countries from around the globe into our transparency program to advance responsible fisheries management. We are working with governments to publish their vessel monitoring system data to our platform to strengthen monitoring and support enforcement. We encourage governments to publish their authorized vessel lists and transshipment authorizations and to require the use of unique vessel identifiers, such as the IMO number.

Making vessel activity publicly trackable is a critical step for countries that are committed to achieving greater transparency in fisheries. When countries share their vessel data on the Global Fishing Watch map, we can create a more complete and connected picture of global fishing activity.

September
2023
Palau

commits to sharing VMS data 

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June
2023
Papua New Guinea

publishes VMS data 

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March
2023
Norway

publishes VMS data

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May
2022
Benin

commits to sharing VMS data

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April
2022
The Republic of the Marshall Islands

commits to sharing VMS data

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March
2022
Belize

publishes VMS data
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January
2022
Costa Rica

publishes VMS data
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November
2021
Brazil

publishes VMS data
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October
2021
Ecuador

publishes VMS data
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March
2020
Chile

publishes VMS data
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October
2019
Panama

publishes VMS data
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October
2018
Peru

publishes VMS data
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June
2017
Indonesia

becomes first country to publicly share VMS data Learn more »

Norway: Promoting Ocean Transparency

Our collaboration with Norway formally began in May 2022 when the Directorate of Fisheries agreed to publish fishing data for its large vessels on the Global Fishing Watch map. With this decision, Norway reinforced its commitment to transparency, reflecting its desire to make all government data publicly available wherever possible. 

Sustainability Through Transparency

Covering more than two-thirds of the Earth’s surface, the ocean provides essential nutrition to billions of people and sustains a global economy that is valued in excess of $1 trillion. Home to huge reservoirs of biodiversity, the ocean connects us through commerce, policy, heritage and community.

The Search for Squid

The waters off South America are home to one of the most lucrative fisheries: the jumbo squid. Sustainable management of squid fisheries depends on effective vessel monitoring. Global Fishing Watch uses cutting-edge technology to analyze this fishery and enhance monitoring, control and surveillance efforts in the region.

Transparency in Focus

Thanks to the commitment and combined support from government champions, industry leaders and academia, in just a few years, data transparency has become the gold standard across fisheries in one of the most productive and biodiverse waters in the world: Peru. Discover more in our new project Transparency in Focus.

Recent Work
Peruvian boobies

Seabirds: An Unexpected Ally in Fisheries Monitoring

An innovative research project allows scientists to see through the eyes of seabirds to understand interactions with the Peruvian anchovy fishing fleet     On any given day, you can find a wreck of seabirds

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