Google, Oceana Link Up in Battle Against Illegal Fishing

A new Google-backed initiative will bend the power of data analysis to track fishing activity on the high seas -- and help single out those doing it illegally. Global Fishing Watch -– a partnership between Google, Oceana, and satellite non-profit SkyTruth –- will sift through location information and other identifying data to map where fishing is taking place around the world, making it possible to identify who's fishing responsibly. Illegal fishing is estimated to bring in $10 billion to $23.5 billion globally every year, and the practice poses a serious danger to stocks fished beyond sustainable limits. Fifty-three percent of the world’s fisheries have been pushed to the brink, according to the World Wildlife Fund, and 32 percent have been overexploited. “So much of what happens out on the high seas is invisible, and that has been a huge barrier to understanding and showing what’s at stake for the ocean,” John Amos, president of SkyTruth, said in a release. “But now, satellite data is allowing us to make human interaction with the ocean more transparent than ever before.” A Global Fishing Watch prototype was unveiled on Friday in Sydney, Australia, and draws from 3.7 billion data points gathered between 2012 and 2013.

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--- Matthew DeLuca