New high-tech tool spies on global fishing practices from space and will help curb illegal fishing.
Illegal fishing is contributing to the depletion of fish stocks across the globe. This activity is considered a major threat to the long term stability of the ocean’s biodiversit.y Despite coordinated efforts, illegal or unregulated fishing has proven extremely difficult to combat.
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Recently, Google has collaborated with actor Leonardo DiCarprio’s foundation and released a new high-tech tool for curbing illegal fishing. The tool, named Global Fishing Watch, is a surveillance system that spies on global fishing practices from space and can help reduce illegal fishing in the oceans. Actor Leonardo DiCaprio himself unveiled the technology on Thursday.
“Today, this unprecedented technology is available to everyone in the world. I encourage everyone to go check it out," DiCaprio told during Our Oceans Conference. “This platform will empower citizens across the globe to become powerful advocates for our oceans.”
Millions of people depend on ocean for their livelihood as well as for a primary food source. However, world fish stock is threatened by overfishing, illegal fishing and habitat loss. According to a research, fish population especially tuna and mackerel have suffered a catastrophic 74% decline in the last 40 years. Using new tool, people can trace the paths of 35,000 commercial fishing vessels and keep an eye on illegal fishing activity.
“It gives the public an opportunity to see what is happening, even out in the middle of the ocean," said John Amos one of three partners involved in the project.
“We need the public to be engaged to convince governments and convince the seafood industry that they need to solve the problems of overfishing.”
The project had cost $10.3 million and it took three years to complete it and it can aid in tracking down illegal fishing. So, how does the tool work? Vessels with commercial purposes use Automatic Identification System (AIS) to track the movement of nearby ships and to avoid collisions.
For accessing this data, Google negotiated a deal with the satellite company Orbcomm. The free technology allows users to look at the area they are interested in and track the movement of the ships themselves via satellite. For instance, they could zero in on a specific area and see if any boat has crossed into waters where they should not have been.
Jacqueline Savitz, Vice President for the United States and Global Fishing Watch says. “We think it is going to have a lot of impact, first of all just the deterrent effect of vessels knowing that we could see them if they are doing something they are not supposed to be doing.”